Classic Gaming Page
My wife is a list member of RECIPE
DU JOUR at
imagine my surprise when she showed me the following article
from her recipe site !!
Simply Tim: STICK SWORD IN EAR
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