|The Crowther and Woods 'Colossal Cave Adventure' game|
Here's where it all began...
Before there was Doom, Ultima, Rogue, or even Zork, there was... Adventure.There were other text computer games before Adventure, such as STARTREK and WUMPUS, but this was the first of its kind; the first text "interactive fiction" game. It may seem outdated and quaint by today's standards, sort of like seeing the Wright brothers' original flyer parked next to a Boeing 747, but many of us remember it fondly.
In 1972, William Crowther and his wife Pat were working for Bolt, Beranek and Newman in Boston, otherwise known as BBN. Will was
Other activities Crowther enjoyed were rock climbing and a regular game of Dungeons and Dragons, a roleplaying
Unfortunately, Crowther's marriage ended in 1975. Sometime thereafter, feeling estranged from his two daughters and wanting to be closer to them, he decided to write a program that they might enjoy: a simulation of his cave explorations that also contained elements of his fantasy roleplaying. He was intrigued by the idea of trying a computer-mediated version of the game.He wrote a computer simulation based on the maps, for a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-10 computer, in FORTRAN. His first version included caver jargon such as "Y2" (a typical notation on cave maps denoting a survey point), and many of the names of rooms in this version came from actual features in the caves Will had been exploring.
Crowther's daughters enjoyed the game, and it was passed from friend to friend during the early days of the Internet, appearing on countless computers on and off the fledgling network. Often someone would install 'Adventure' in the wee hours of the night — without mentioning it to the computer staff — and move on, resulting in a mysterious yet impressive game program seeming to appear as if by magic.
Crowther's exploits have been chronicled in a number of books, both for his computer and caving activities:
In 1976, Don Woods was working at Stanford University's Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, otherwise known by the acronym SAIL.Woods found a copy of Crowther's rudimentary program left on one of the university computers by some unknown Johnny Appleseed, so to speak.
He contacted Crowther by the simple expedient of sending email to "crowther@sitename," where sitename was every computer then on the Internet, only a mere handful of sites at the time. After corresponding with Crowther and getting his blessings, Woods greatly expanded the program.The 'Adventure' continues
Jim Gillogly at the Rand Corporation spent several weeks in 1976 porting the code (with Woods' and Crowther's blessings) from the original FORTRAN source into C for UNIX. Most UNIX systems run successors of this C version. Gillogly later ported the code to Heathkit and then IBM-PC personal computers with the help of Walt Bilofsky, founder of The Software Toolworks (which was eventually renamed Mindscape). This version was marketed in 1981 under the name "The Original Adventure." Walt explains:
"On receipt of the code, we would send the player a lovely Certificate of Wizardness, bearing (facsimile) signatures of both Crowther and Woods, and an embossed seal. (It was pretty much the only use we ever got out of our corporate seal.) "