Matt Chat 80 - Adventureland with Scott Adams

Matt Barton's picture

In this week's episode, industry pioneer Scott Adams talks about his first foray into commercial publishing with Adventureland, the first in what would become an epic series of text (and later illustrated) adventures for the smorgasbord of early 80s computer platforms. Scott talks about his experiences with Colossal Cave Adventure, his favorite platforms, and the trials and tribulations of managing a hugely successful business without any formal training whatsoever.

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Mark Vergeer
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Great interview

Great interview again Matt. The exact TRS80 shown here was the one we had in highschool and I must say I filled up that memory quickly with my programming. I remember trying out and modifying an Elisa program adding variables for various states of mind and even a rudimentary way to learn and expand vocabulary.
I am still fascinated by computers using human language and AI.

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Rowdy Rob
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Joined: 09/04/2006
TRS-80's and Scott Adams.
Mark Vergeer wrote:

Great interview again Matt. The exact TRS80 shown here was the one we had in highschool and I must say I filled up that memory quickly with my programming. I remember trying out and modifying an Elisa program adding variables for various states of mind and even a rudimentary way to learn and expand vocabulary.
I am still fascinated by computers using human language and AI.

Me too, Mark! My first personal computer experience was with the very same TRS-80 pictured in the video (Model I Level II). They had it sitting out in the high school library, and I saw someone playing "Space Invaders" on it. I said to the guy "Hey, that's pretty cool," and he replied "that's because this game was written in MACHINE LANGUAGE!" I had no idea what that meant (what other language could a machine have except "machine" language???), but I was intrigued, and caught the TRS-80 bug. Soon, I too was messing with programs like ELIZA, turning it into a typical juvenile-humor joke response program. I joined the school computer club (as well as the computer club for our Air Force Base, which consisted mostly of adults), and was hooked. Like you all, we were into computers when computers weren't cool!

(Actually, I first saw, and dabbled with, the TRS-80 in a Radio Shack store. I was fascinated, but I wouldn't count that first impression as actual TRS-80 experience.)

I found it fascinating that Scott Adams was a major computer prodigy in his youth. I figured he was the typical (for the time) geeky kid who learned how to program on his home computer and just happened to hit it big with a cool game. It seems he was way ahead of the curve, and basically invented the commercial game software biz from the ground up! That makes him a pioneer on many levels, an important figure in computer history, gaming or otherwise!

Anyhow, great Matt Chat. I am left wanting more!

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
I've never seen a TRS-80 in

I've never seen a TRS-80 in the wild, and have only recently began to tinker with them via emulation. One of my colleagues here was a TRS-80 nut back in the day, and he's always reminiscing about some kind of dinosaur game he loved.

It would have been so cool if our schools had more systems for us to play on. I fought (and lost) even here at SCSU to get us a lab with all three major platforms. My vision was to have Windows, Macs, and Linux machines in the same lab--so that people could come in and try them out. That got dashed instantly because the techs felt it would be a nightmare for them to maintain those incompatible systems. But I still think it would be a neat idea. Maybe one day I'll build a history lab where you can come in and play on not just those but also old systems like the TRS-80 and TI-99 4/A. Wouldn't that be a blast!

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Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Through a lucky happenstance,

Through a lucky happenstance, I have a huge amount of TRS-80 stuff, though honestly too much for me to handle (lots of binders, books, redundant hardware, etc.). In my schools, the oldest TRS-80 we had was the Model III (the all-in-one unit), and that's the unit I fell in love with and that's the unit that I wished to acquire first. Long story short, among my many TRS-80 systems are a fairly well loaded TRS-80 Model IV and several 4P's, which makes the prior systems obsolete in more ways than one. In fact, the biggest way it makes the prior systems obsolete and specifically the Model 1 in question, is that you need to do a one-time, one way conversion on the software to make it work on the IV, typically making it incompatible with the Model 1. So I have a few Model 1 systems that still work (though I've yet to get the disk drives to work reliably), but there's little reason to go to the effort of setting them up for a variety of reasons, including higher difficulty (and more) connections, and not all of the software I have working with them anymore.

Like I said, I have an unusual affection for the systems because that's how I learned real BASIC programming, though of course I had a Vic-20 and later C-64 at home (I just learned better in the structured environment). They're not great games machines, though they were very well supported for quite some time. I guess, like we've always said, classic systems have certain "personalities" and I always like the TRS-80 "personalities".

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