National Software Reference Library: An Important Digital Tool for Forensic Investigators


The story starts with Stephen M. Cabrinety, the Stanford University Libraries, and NIST’s National Software Reference Library (NSRL). Cabrinety collected more than 50,000 pieces of commercial software and nearly 300 functioning microcomputer systems—some dating back to the mid-1980s. Stanford University Libraries acquired Cabrinety’s collection in 2009, fourteen years after Cabrinety died from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The acquisition and preservation of the collection had been a dream of his.

One has to wonder why the NIST and NSRL became involved. Truth be told, it’s their job. The agency has been tasked with collecting, archiving, and making verifiable forensic information on individual pieces of software available to public and private organizations. In fact, NSRL is likely the largest publicly-held repository of digital software in the world. The NIST press release Digital Forensics Rescues Retro Video Games and Software explains why the collection is important:…

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