1970's BASIC Computer Games compiled for Linux
Remember typing in code from magazines and books? Let's compile a bunch of those old games for modern Linux.
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Back in the 1970s and 1980s, typing in computer software from magazines and books — most often in BASIC — was a key part of the computing experience.
And, throughout the 1970s, a man named David H. Ahl (publisher of the legendary Creative Computing magazine) released a series of books called “BASIC Computer Games”. These books were the holy grail of “games you could type in”.
Fun side note: “BASIC Computer Games” was the very first “computer” book that sold more than one million copies. Absolutely legendary.
Multiple versions of the book were released — each with the games tweaked and modified to work properly on different types of computers of the 1970s (and into the 1980s).
From Digital’s minicomputers all the way through to the Radio Shack TRS-80 (with a few stops in-between).
The individual games looked like this:
But how do we enjoy these games nowadays, in 2022?
I’ve grabbed a big collection of these BASIC games, and compiled a whole bunch of them for Linux. For all of us to enjoy.
To start with, I’m standing on the backs of giants here. Both AtariArchives.org and Vintage-BASIC.net have done an amazing job of archiving these games (including scans from the original books). This sort of preservation work is absolutely critical for computer history. A major high five to the operators of both of those websites.
For example: here is the classic Hamurabi game (which was originally developed in 1968 at Digital for the Focal language… and later ported to BASIC)… running on modern Linux:
How I did this isn’t exactly rocket science.
Luckily a large portion of these games are somewhat compatible with Microsoft QuickBASIC. Which means that it is possible to compile many of these games with both FreeBASIC (a GPL’d BASIC compiler that sits on top of the GNU toolchain) and QB64 (a QBasic compatible compiler for Linux, Windows, and Mac).
The result is a big collection of games, from the 1970s, that are actually playable! I recommend turning on your CAPS LOCK as many of these games were written assuming all input would be upper case.
Because… it was the ‘70s.
You can grab a big .Zip file — containing the source and the compiled executables for Linux — over on Itch.io. No cost. Just grab them and enjoy the best of 1970’s, typed-in computer games.
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Thank you, Mr Lunduke, for this effort at convenient preservation!