Classic Gaming Page

My wife is a list member of   RECIPE DU JOUR at      So imagine my surprise when she showed me the following article from her recipe site !!


Needless to say, the holiday season brings all of the toy manufacturers out of the woodwork and onto the television screen. And whenever I see an advertisement for computer games, I can't help but slip back to the early 1980's when I bought my first computer. It was a Radio Shack Tandy Model 4. In those days there were no hard drives; a lot of memory was considered to
be 64-K (bytes). [1,000 K = 1-KB (kilobyte); 1,000 KB = 1-MB (megabyte)] Relax.

To put all of this gobbledygook in perspective - - if my math is correct - - it would take nearly 16 THOUSAND Radio Shack Model 4 computers to equal the mnemonic power of a single modern computer's standard 1-GIGABYTE (one BILLION bytes!) of memory, and you can bet modern computer games use every bit of it.

But 64-K of memory was enough the night I slipped my first computer-game diskette into the Model 4's floppy drive. The game was called ZORK. There were no graphics, no colors, no such thing as a mouse. Not even Windows. There was only a keyboard and a black and white screen. The game was a TEXT-only fantasy game, meaning you were presented with a descriptive  paragraph to which you would type in an appropriate response. The response directed you to another paragraph of text. For instance:

"You are standing in a mountain field. To the East is a stone farmhouse. To the South is a meandering brook. To the West you can barely make out a pathway that leads to a dark forest. To the North is a. . ."

You type: "GO EAST" and hit the <Enter> key.

"A rusty gate bars your way to a two-story farmhouse. Just inside the gate on a cobblestone walkway you notice a paper bag. The walkway disappears on the West side of the house, where a rope swing is tied to an old and
gnarled oak tree."

You type: "Pick up paper bag."

"You can't do that. A rusty gate bars your way."

You type: "Open gate."

"The gate is now open."

You type: "Enter."

"A nasty Troll leaps from behind an unnoticed bush and cuts off your head with a very dull sword. You are dead. Would you like to restart?"

As a serious player I eventually learned to draw maps and save my game location frequently, so I could return to the moment of safety just prior to being destroyed by a host of critters far nastier than a meager troll. I played right through that first night until - - all of a sudden - - the sun was peeking through my kitchen window. How did that happen? Undaunted, I put on a pot of coffee, called work, slathered a few choice, flu-like symptoms into the phone, took a day of sick leave, and played ZORK non-stop for another eighteen hours.

"You are standing in a cold, dank cave. You are holding a lantern whose yellow light barely illuminates the cavern. You own a sword, a magic amulet, a section of rope, a clove of garlic, a rubber raft, and a bicycle pump. From the East you feel a chilly breeze. To the South you hear the faint fluttering of wings. Large stones block your way to the West and to the North."

You type: "Raise lantern."

"Vampire Bats descend. You drop the lantern. In the sudden darkness you feel teeth tearing at your face. Tiny bat-paws are clinging to your lips."

You frantically type: "THROW CLOVE OF GARLIC!"

"It is dark. You can't find the garlic. Stinky bat-tails are wriggling up your nostrils. A bat has grabbed hold of your tongue. You are on the verge of blacking out."

My heart is racing. I am actually SWEATING. I save the game location with a practiced keystroke, and just for the heck of it, I type: "%!&# you!"

The floppy's busy-light flickers, the disk whirls. Computer byte-brains are flying out of the floppy drive's bay door. Then, the mighty ZORK responds:

"I am sorry, but I do not understand the word 'YOU'."

It is too late, anyhow. I crack up laughing.

"You smell like bat guano. Your tongue looks like spaghetti. You are drained of blood. You are dead. Would you like to restart?"

ZORK was a wonderful game whose days were numbered in the same short moments as those sound-effect-ridden Radio Day shows. Gone forever and - - if my math is correct - - remembered by few.

So, I HAD to do it. Went looking for the oldies. Thought YOU might like to see what made old-time gamers like myself feel the emotions expressed so well above. (You can download and



Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy