Forty Years of Lunar Lander

July 20th, 2009 by Benj Edwards

Lunar Lander 40th Anniversary on Technologizer

Forty years ago today, man set foot on the moon for the first time. To celebrate the anniversary, I decided to take a look at the history of that old computer game stalwart, Lunar Lander.

Lunar ModuleMuch to my surprise, I soon discovered that Lunar Lander itself turns 40 this year as well: a few months after Armstrong’s first stroll on the moon, a high school student named Jim Storer wrote the first version — all text — on a DEC PDP-8 computer. Yep, in 1969.

Up today on Technologizer is the world’s first in-depth history of Lunar Lander, one of the earliest computer games ever written. The article tells the story of the first text version, the first graphical version for the DEC GT40, and Atari’s 1979 arcade game of the same title (now turning 30, interestingly enough) through information from the men who created them. It then examines notable versions of Lunar Lander through the years, bringing us up to the present.

Lunar Lander 40th Anniversary

I’d especially like to thank Jim Storer, Jack Burness, Howard Delman, and David Ahl for their help in writing my article. I couldn’t have done it without them.

So without further ado, here’s the history of Lunar Lander. I hope you enjoy it.

4 Responses to “Forty Years of Lunar Lander

  1. Fessic Says:

    One of the great things about Lunar Lander (the trademark of all classics) is that the gameplay is still just as fun today as back when. I reviewed a modern remake of the Atari graphical version a few months back.

    After trying a good handful of available lander clones this one easily came out on top as being fun, accessible and true to its roots. Love the authentic Apollo mission sound effects as well. Thanks to your article Benj it puts a great freeware title like this in proper perspective.

    Note: The game runs on Windows…no installation required; in other words you can take it with you on a USB drive.

  2. d finky Says:

    Wow, still, in my opionion one of the hardest video games. Fun though, and very simple to learn, very hard to master!!!

  3. Moondog Says:

    I had a clone of the game which ran on the C-64. I agree about the arcade game – the concept was simple, but harder to execute.

  4. Rick Says:

    Thought you might be interested to know that the original Moonlander for the DEC GT40 is now in the iTunes App Store under the name ‘Moonlander Classic’. It is a free app and includes the 1969 Focal version as well (if you can ‘win’ the Moonlander game first) and can tolerate using a teletype as the user interface (just like in 1969).

    I was around to play this in the mid-70s and now it is available to everyone to enjoy.

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