You Can Now Browse the Internet with a NES
Ashley Allen / 4 years ago
Who’d have thought, back in the Eighties – before the World Wide Web was even a glint in the eye of Tim Berners-Lee – that our humble Nintendo Entertainment System was capable of accessing the magical future tech of the internet? Thanks to Rachel Simone Weil, retro gaming nut and founder of the Femicom Museum, that sci-fi fantasy has been conjured into reality.
Weil has developed a WiFi modem specifically for the NES, called the ConnectedNES. Built from a Particle Photon WiFi development kit and parts of an NES controller, the ConnectedNES plugs into the console’s controller port and renders internet content through a custom ROM installed on the modem.
“ConnectedNES is a unique open-source project released in May 2016 that wirelessly and easily connects the 8-bit NES game console to the internet with a custom “modem” you can build yourself!” Weil writes on her website No Bad Memories. “It is currently bundled with a realtime Twitter client but has the potential to be expanded to a collaborative platform.”
— cathode rae ✌️ (@partytimeHXLNT) May 9, 2016
“When you play NES games, you press buttons on the controller, and the controller in turn sends a signal made of bits (1s and 0s) through the controller cable and into the NES console,” Weil adds. “These bits indicate which buttons were pressed or not pressed, and this information is then used to control the game. As it turns out, tweets, images, and other digital content is also made up of bits. What if we could use the controller port to stream different kinds of data into the NES? We’d have something a lot like ConnectedNES!”
ConnectedNES is far from practical – superficially, it is fuelled purely by novelty – but the ingenuity and imagination that brought the tech to life is worth celebrating.