Original Zork source code available

One of the first computer games I played was Zork. It was back in 1981 and on a Dec 20 mainframe. I have a lot of happy memories of Zork so I was interested when Hackaday posted that MIT has released the original source code on Github.

It wasn’t the puzzles that interested me back in 1981. It was the whole concept that a world could be created that the player interacted with all based on text and running on a computer. For me playing the game was more about the features that developers had included, the humour and what responses our random inputs gave.

A couple of friends and I all spent lots of time trying to write our own text adventure games, but none were really completed. We didn’t have our own computers and the trip to the mainframe was a long way for a school students without transport.

I still have some printouts from that time.

Printout of Zork welcome text

While I don’t understand the language that Zork was written in it is interesting to look at the files as they have lots of easy to read text showing descriptions and interactions. Some look familiar but others for things we never thought of trying.

I only vaguely remember this here which appears to be on the matches

You too can make BIG MONEY in the exciting field of
                 PAPER SHUFFLING!
Mr. TAA of Muddle, Mass. says: \"Before I took
this course I used to be a lowly bit twiddler.
Now with what I learned at MIT Tech I feel really
important and can obfuscate and confuse with the best.\"
Mr. MARC had this to say: \"Ten short days ago all I could
look forward to was a dead-end job as a doctor. Now
I have a promising future and make really big Zorkmids.\"

I don’t recall ever lighting the leaves, presumably the ones at the clearing, but it looks like it was an option.

"The leaves burn and the neighbors start to complain."


"The sight of someone carrying a pile of burning leaves so offends
the neighbors that they come over and put you out."

I only remember moving them.

Another image of a printout including the text 'MOVE LEAVES'

If you ever played the game, the code is worth a look. Remember, stay safe, keep your lamp on and don’t get eaten by a grue .

Text including, 'It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue'

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: