The History of the History Game Oregon Trail

Can you believe it? The game Oregon Trail will turn forty years old in 2011! The first version was a little different from what you may remember:
With no monitor, the original version of Oregon Trail was played by answering prompts that printed out on a roll of paper. At 10 characters per second, the teletype spat out, "How much do you want to spend on your oxen team?" or, "Do you want to eat (1) poorly (2) moderately or (3) well?" Students typed in the numerical responses, then the program chugged through a few basic formulas and spat out the next prompt along with a status update.

"Bad illness—medicine used," it might say. "Do you want to (1) hunt or (2) continue?"

Hunting required the greatest stretch of the user's imagination. Instead of a point-and-shoot game, the teletype wrote back, "Type BANG."

If the user typed it in accurately and quickly enough, the hunter bagged his quarry.

The game was first played in a history class on December 3rd, 1971. Students had to wait up to a half hour just to take a turn! But they wanted to play again and again. Strangely, the code was deleted from the school computer at the end of the year, but the teacher, co-creator Don Rawitsch, printed out the code -hundreds of lines- on a roll of computer paper. It may have never been used again if Rawitsch hadn't looked for a community service job in order to avoid the Vietnam draft. What happened was that Oregon Trail became "the most widely distributed educational game of all time." The story of how three Minnesota student teachers invented the game but never saw any profits is a fascinating tale. Link -via Rue the Day

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We did Oregon Trail- an advanced version from the first one but pretty awkward compared to the current one- in the early 80's. I don't think I ever did make it to Oregon then!
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