DOSGames.com has been online for 20 years as of January 2019! To put this into context, this site was founded seven years before Twitter, six years before YouTube, five years before Facebook, and only a couple of months after Google incorporated!
The purpose for this website is to provide a source to download free (shareware, freeware, public domain, etc) and legal (no warez or abandonware) DOS games. There are many sites that provide games, but most include non-DOS games or also include illegally distributed files.
The website was founded by me, Darren Hewer, in early January 1999. I originally started the website because back then, DOS games were becoming increasingly difficult to find. There were few other websites focused solely on DOS games. So I started one, since I loved playing the games that I grew up playing. Back in those days, there was no DOSBox, so sometimes even getting the games running was a chore involving carefully tweaking settings, add-on utilities like VDMSound, or even BOOT DISKS (gasps!). (Nowadays unless you want to build your own dedicated DOS PC, you can use our DOSBOX Guide to run most DOS software on your modern computer.)
Here's a brief chronological history of the website.
In the beginning
Launch: Long ago, way back in early January 1999, DOSGames.com was born. Although back then it didn't exist on the DOSGames.com domain. It was hosted on our ISP's free webspace at the glorious URL www.inforamp.net/~biglarr/dosgames/. The free redirect subdomain dos.gamespage.com would also take you there. The first design was not particularly fancy but it was fully functional and contained 50 games. A month later, the total surpassed 100 games.
Domain name purchased: By February 1999, I was able to convince my dad to use his credit card to purchase the domain name DOSGames.com from Network Solutions (the only place you could buy a .com domain back then) for $70USD. The site was hosted with DigitalSpace.net which has been acquired by another company since then. This is the first of many hosting moves over the years.
Redesign #1: The first redesign on April 7, 1999. Many areas remained the same, but the iframe was removed and the front page was redesigned. See the earliest existing archived copy of the website, from April 1999, on Archive.org!
Free email service: The DOS Games Email service (free!!) launched. A company known as BigMailBox allowed you to set up your own free webmail service like GMail and Hotmail. This service ran for several years and at its height there were hundreds of people using it, including myself for my own emails. Eventually BigMailBox shut down sometime in 2003 and so did the free email service. See how it looked back then on Archive.org.
2000: Server moves and big traffic challenges
Server move #2: A year after launching, the website moved to its own dedicated sever. Most games were hosted locally rather than linking to other places. However, due to some shady/negligent behavior of this now defunct web host, the site would move back to shared hosting later in the same year.
Redesign #2: The second redesign of the site started in April 2000. It took a couple months to convert the whole site. See the design in all its Archive.org glory!
Redesign #3: I started working on another new design for the site while on Christmas break from school. SEE the majestic table-based design via Archive.org! It's missing a few of the graphical pieces.
2001: A website odyssey
DOS Games Store: The DOSGames.com Store launched on March 20, 2001, hosted by CafePress, where you could buy poorly designed t-shirts, mousepads, etc. I think a total of about a dozen were sold, not including myself and my own family. See the ugly t-shirt designs via Archive.org! (Not sure what I was thinking with that fireball swirl design thing ...)
Traffic stats: By November 2001 the site received around 4,000 unique visitors and approximately 45,000 pageviews per day!
Christmas logo tradition begins: December 2001 marked the beginning of a tradition that continues yearly: A Christmas-themed DOSGames.com logo! See the logo archive for all of the logos over the years!
Redesign #4: Yet another redesign of the site was completed on December 21, 2001. This was major and became the mainstay of the website and the one that most people will remember. It was a major redo, and used then-current standards of web development. For example, it used CSS! Wow! See the amazing (?) DOSGames.com design that lived for 17 years!
2003: Back to a dedicated server!
Dedicated server (again): In early 2003, the site was moved to its own "RAQ4" server (
top middle of the line back then) hosted by 4WebSpace ... the website for which shockingly still exists and offers the same servers at the same prices as 2003; I suspect it's just defunct and was never updated!
Hosting other sites: In July 2003 the server began hosting another DOS gaming website, dosgamesonline.com, which was hosted for free. Since then it was sold to a different developer, and now the old website itself is gone! (See how DOS Games Online used to look in 2012 thanks to archive.org!)
No more pop-ups: On July 13, 2003, the website became a "popup ad free zone" during a time when annoying popup and pop-behind ads were still common. This ban on pop-ups still applies today!
2004: Crashing & recovering
Hard drive crash: After a massive hard drive crash on June 17, 2004, the site was down for awhile but thankfully was soon back online from the backups!
2005: Stayin' alive
Another new web server: Another year, another new server! After two years of great service from my previous host, a "Super Server 2.4" was purchased from Server Matrix, which was owned by The Planet, which was eventually swallowed up by the company known as SoftLayer, which is now owned by and integrated into IBM Cloud Computing. Whew.
Over 400 games: On March 16 2005 the total number of games on the website surpassed 400 for the first time!
No time for gaming: In September 2005 I started grad school at Tyndale University College & Seminarty, which would limit the amount of time I could spend working on the website.
2006 and Onwards
Final (?) hosting move: On September 16, 2007 the website moved to its (as of 2018) final web host, LiquidWeb. They have offered great service for over 10 years and I wholeheartedly recommend their managed services.
Over 600 games: On August 1, 2011, the archive of games hit 600!
2011 updates and beyond: The website continued to be updated with new games, although the frequency decreased, and nearly stopped entirely by 2012. One update that remained constant was a new Christmas logo replaced the normal DOSGames.com logo for a brief period in Dec-Jan of each year. Not a lot happened during this period! (With the website, I mean. Personally, I got married, got a "real" job, bought a house, will soon be a father ...)
DOSGames.com v2.0!: Perhaps the greatest day in
website history: June 9, 2018. The entire site was redesigned, not just visually, but also structurally, with every game on the site painstakingly entered into a database. This redesign included many new improvements, and even a few new games! Since it will be easier to add new games to the website, updates can happen more regularly. Read more about the release of DOSGames.com v2.0 here.
Continuing the Legacy
Not many independently run websites have been consistently in existence with the same mission since 1999. There are unfortunately few truly independent sites like this one remaining. Think about most of the other popular gaming sites of the late 90's / early 2000's like HappyPuppy, GamesDomain, etc. All gone! If you would like to help keep DOSGames.com going, please consider supporting my work on this website. Thank you!