The ancient history of interactive fiction

Exploring Adventures on the Commodore 64 - Peter Gerrard

The reason I liked this book so much when I was a kid was because it contained the code for four adventure games (which you had to type into the computer yourself). I was always trying to get my hands on it so that I could type them up and then play them. As I have mentioned previously, back in the early days of computers you did not have that many games available so one had to resort to typing games out by hand, and these books were great because they also assisted you in learning how to program a computer. Mind you, back in those days you would not see anything like this:


GTA Bus ad



or this:


GTA Bus Shelter Ad



Computers and computer games were the hobbies of a small minority and as such it was difficult to make a profit from a computer game since the market for such games was quite small. As such, you would have magazines like this:


Byte Magazine



which were devoted to providing you with the code for games and other programs so that you could either enter them into the computer (which was time consuming), or use them as examples so that you could develop your own programs (or games). I also remember magazines like this:


Zzap 64 Magaine



which were little more than advertisement rags for new computer games, though they also contained a section with hints for adventure games and cheat codes for arcade games.

The internet has changed all of that because if one wants to share programs, hints, or cheat codes, one simply places it online. In the older days one would have to release their products through computer stores, or publish their code in a magazine. Now all they have to do is upload their program to the internet. The days of sitting down in front of a computer typing out code is long gone (though people still do it – they are called computer programmers).

However my Dad (who has used computers his entire life and has witnessed their development from one room monstrosities to the laptops we have today) told me last night that these books were quite useful as they taught people how to program a computer. I know that I learnt most of my computer skills from sitting down for hours on end copying out code. There were also some games that one could hack into the code so that you could work out the solution to the game (at least if they were adventure games). However, I think I will move on to the next topic of discussion when I get to my next computer book.