Computer malware and viruses have been around since the 1980s but instead of being designed to rob you of your data, they would destroy your computer.
They were created for no real reason but to cause mayhem for the owners, and yet those behind them were creative in how it did so, using animations and even games to get the point across.
Such viruses are long gone but the Internet Archive, which has archived numerous MS-DOS games among other things, has started archiving a selection of these viruses online in the Malware Museum.
Archived by Jason Scott and taken from the personal collection of Mikko Hypponen, a chief research scientist at the antivirus company F-Secure, the viruses and malware run on an emulated version of DOS. The malicious parts have been taken out so you can just admire the creativity (or cruelty) behind them.
To give one example, the malware called Casino requires you to play a game of chance where winning stops it from wiping your hard drive clean. If you match three pound signs, you win but if you matched three question marks, the game says it will provide you with the hacker’s phone number.
Unsurprisingly, the game is rigged and instead of a phone number, a message tells you you’ve lost, and its creator is “punishing you for trying to trace me down”.
Other viruses were more visual like Marine, which just shows you a crude boat sailing left and right over and over again.
While others are a little more colourful like Crash, which just overwhelms you with different colours and code, and LSD, which is exactly as it sounds.
There’s very little in this than to see the different ways your PC could have been infected back in the 1980s and 1990s, but considering the limitations, you can appreciate the work that went into creating a virus back then.
Or you could just admire how someone would simply throw up a simple ‘Ha!’ to let you know you were infected.