[ Fuzzy Memory ] Mainframe Games

November 13th, 2008 by Benj Edwards

Fuzzy MemoryIt’s not every day that I receive a Fuzzy Memory dating back to the early days of personal computing. Come to think of it, it’s no every day that I receive a Fuzzy Memory. But I digress — in this case, the computer in question isn’t even personal, but a mainframe PDP 11/34. The year? 1979.

Like always, I’m not an oracle of infinite knowledge and resources, so I need you (my adept readers) to help solve the mystery. And besides, I like making you do most of the work.

Advent, Trek, and Tripe

Robert wrote me a few days ago regarding a neolithic computer game from the disco era:

I have a new “fuzzy memory” search for you. When I first became addicted to computers in 1979, it was on a PDP 11/34 at my local college. That computer had 3 text-based games that endeared me to computers forever: Advent, Trek, and Tripe.

I have been able to find both Advent (which was the precursor to Zork) and Trek (a text-based Star Trek battle/strategy game). I have never tracked down a version of Tripe.

Tripe was a text-based parody of Star Trek. Key things that I recall about the game include:

  • Away teams would raid a planet and “kill the women and rape the bad guys!”
  • The ultimate weapon was the “dusn’t matter probe”. When fire, it would start playing one of Kirk’s famous speeches, at which point the enemy would commit suicide.

I don’t know if this game ever left the confines of the PDP, but it sure would be cool to track down a version of it.


The Search Begins

In this case, we’re fortunate: Robert knows the name of the game he’s looking for, and he knows the platform. But one key absence still prevents him from reliving his fondest gaming memories: the game itself. If anyone out there knows more about Tripe or how to obtain a copy of it, please let us know in the comments section. Perhaps there’s a more recent port of the game for another platform, or maybe someone has a disk image of the game that Robert could run on a PDP/11 emulator.

While you’re at it, feel free to leave your own mainframe memories in the comments below. Good luck!

Have a memory of a computer, video game, computer software, or electronic toy you need help identifying? Send me an email describing your memories in detail. Hopefully, the collective genius of the VC&G readership can help solve your mystery.

6 Responses to “[ Fuzzy Memory ] Mainframe Games”

  1. Layne Says:

    I’m on the trail as best as I can be. Not much of a PDP guy, but pretty good with a search engine or two.

    Here’s some good stuff I’ve found so far (but still no Tripe):
    ftp://ftp.update.uu.se/pub/pdp11/ (a lot of the same stuff as dbit but probably better organized).

    I’m still looking.


  2. Layne Says:

    Oh….and I also found this: http://www.gamecareerguide.com/features/578/no_more_it_for_me_how_one_tech_.php

    Apparently this was from the person who sent Benj the e-mail.


  3. Layne Says:

    More good stuff: http://www.bitsavers.org/pdp-11.trailing-edge.com/rsts11/

    I haven’t gone through all of them, just the obvious ones. Still no Tripe.


  4. Jason Scott Says:

    Not to depress you, PDP-using guy, but I have very grave doubts you will find this program (it’s hardly a fuzzy memory, just a program you once used which you remember clearly). If it is as you say it is, a program already extant with some strings and aspects re-jiggered to be more profane or silly, chances are it lived and died on the system you used. You’d probably want to find people who worked on that machine and find out if backups ended anywhere.

    But that’d be WORK, wouldn’t it…

  5. Benj Edwards Says:

    Aside from actually finding the admins who ran Robert’s original PDP-11 like Jason said (which would be the best way to find Tripe), Robert’s (or any sleuth’s) second best bet would be to contact a PDP-11 guru who might have heard of the program, if it were distributed to any extent. The only PDP guru I know offhand is Pavl Zachary, who I’ve met at the Vintage Computer Festival (as seen on this page, among others), but I don’t know how to contact him.

  6. Robert Says:

    Hey, thanks everyone for your comments. First of all, yes, Layne, I am the one who wrote the article you refer.

    As for the likelihood of finding Tripe, I realize it is almost nill. The only thing that even made me consider it is that I can still find Advent and Trek which both originated as text based games on the same platform. It is very likely that Tripe is written in BASIC which means “porting” it would be rather easy.

    Anyway, I’ll definitely check the links you all have turned up in research, and this has been fun.


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