How to Play Macromedia Shockwave .DCR Files from the 90’s

If you have been on the Internet since the 1990’s, you may remember when just about web designer embedded cool, graphical Macromedia Shockwave files on their websites.

Back then these were called .dcr files and were made by a program called Director.  Typically they were used to create interactive menus, logos and even games you could play directly in the browser.

If you are like me, you may be wondering how you can view your old .dcr files on your modern Mac or PC.

The answer is you probably won’t be able to and will need to use a computer system with older software from around the mid to late 1990’s.  The good news is such systems are usually inexpensive and can be found on eBay.  Also, most of the software can still be downloaded today.

In the 90’s in order to view these files you had to have a compatible browser – which was usually Netscape.  I can’t remember if these worked on Internet Explorer or not.  It seems like it didn’t as they were working on their own version called ActiveX.  Back then it seemed as if Microsoft had plans to take control of the entire Internet.

Eventually Shockwave become what is now known as Adobe Flash.

Fast forward to the future and you now want to relive Internet history and see some of your old Shockwave creations.  Where do you begin?

I have done quite a bit of research and as of this writing there does not appear to be an offline or online application to convert .dcr to .swf or .mp4.

Step 1: Get an old Mac or PC

If you don’t own an old computer, you can pick one up on eBay, Craigslist or perhaps spot one at a local garage sale.  Try to buy one that is from around the 1995-1998 or so time frame.  You may wan to make sure the computer has an Ethernet card installed in order to download necessary files to get this to work.  If it doesn’t make sure it at least has a CD-Rom.

Remember, back then most people were on dial up and USB wasn’t around yet.  In order to get recommended programs on your old computer, you may want to hook it up to the Internet so you can download and not have to use floppies or burn a CD.

Step 2: Download old Web Browsers and Shockwave Plugins

This may require trial and error, but you will want to download old versions of Netscape as well as the Shockwave plugin necessary for the Director (.dcr) files to work.

If you have an old Mac, you can download Netscape (version 2.02 recommended) using this link.

For Windows, search around or try this link:

http://ftp.lanet.lv/ftp/windows/www/netscape2.02/

For the Shockwave plugin, it’s a little trickier and may require some advanced Googling.  Try doing a search like this: “index of” parent directory shockwave installer.  Add “.sit” for Mac or “.exe” for Windows.

Link to download Shockwave for Mac

Link to download Shockwave for Windows

Please note – be sure to scan any files you download before opening them.

Step 3: Install Old Web Browser and Shockwave Plugins

Once you have downloaded an old browser such as Netscape and Shockwave, go ahead and install them.  With the Mac this involved dragging the plugin into the “plugins” directory in the Netscape directory on the Mac hard drive.  You’ll probably have to play around a bit to get it to work.

Here is a link on the Adobe site with installation instructions on older operating systems.

Step 4: Test some .DCR Files on Your Old Computer

When you think you are ready to test, you can pull up this old link that has been preserved thanks to archive.org.  I’ll post a few test links below.  If you can get one of these to work, then you should be ready to test your own Director movies.

Test site 1: http://mcli.cogdogblog.com/tut/tut29d_ex/measure.html

Test site 2: https://web.archive.org/web/19970104072952/http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/director/shocklist/index.html

Of course the above two links will require that your old computer be hooked up to the Internet.  If that is not possible you can try saving the pages to a CD or floppy and load offline on the old computer.  Or, just skip the test and try to load your files.

If nothing works on the above two sites, you may need to go back to the drawing board or simply try your old files out to see if you have any luck.  Just keep trying.

Conclusion

I still have some experimenting to do and will update this post in the future as I have only tried this on a Mac.  I’ll test this out on an old Windows 95/98 PC soon and share what I find out.

But the bottom line is if you want to view your old Director creations you will likely need to get a time machine and do so on an old computer.  I have seen some reports that people have had luck using the Pale Moon browser, but it didn’t work for me.  But, might be worth a shot.

Recent Content