Was Lost But Now Found: Math Blaster Episode 1 for DOS

On November 24, 2022, Math Blaster Episodes 1 and 2 became available on digital distribution for the first time ever, on the ZOOM Platform. While Episode 2 has a 32-bit Windows version that can be made to run on 64-bit Windows with minimal hassle, Episode 1 does not. As a result, it required WineVDM, a compatibility layer that allows 16-bit applications to run on 64-bit Windows.

There was, however, known to be a DOS version of Math Blaster Episode 1. Despite this, it was nowhere to be found in any corner of the internet I scoured. Worse, it was never released on CD-ROM in any form; only the Windows version was.

One day, I found an interesting auction: a sealed copy of Math Blaster: In Search of Spot. And it was the DOS version! I snatched it up, knowing that the disks inside were guaranteed to be pristine. Up to that point, I didn't bother with collecting games on floppy disk, preferring to get them from CD-ROM releases whenever I could. In this case, I made an exception to that rule.

Once that box came into my possession, I removed the shrink-wrap (figuring that preserving the game itself was worth diminishing the value) and opened up the box. Inside were three 3.5 inch floppy disks, the manual, and other printed material of little importance. What interested me about the disks is that they have no write-protect tab at all, so they're permanently write-protected. I don't think I ever saw that before. The permanent write-protection made sense, since you're not supposed to write to those disks, only install from them.

And so, I installed the game to my DOS computer, inserting disks as prompted. The install was successful, and I immediately zipped up the installation directory into a .zip file. Later, I used OSPLus Disk Imager to make disk images of the disks, ensuring that they'll be preserved. Then I announced on ZOOM Platform's Discord server that I had acquired and set-up the DOS version of Math Blaster Episode 1. I was then contacted to send the game data. I did so, and on February 28, 2024, the DOS version became available, not just for Windows, but macOS and Linux as well.

And now you know how I saved an extremely rare DOS version from extinction to bit rot. I'll be detailing the differences between the DOS and Windows versions next time...