Technologizer: The Great Operating System Games


By Harry McCracken

Since the dawn of computers, games have been an entertaining way to demonstrate a system’s capabilities. Manufacturers like DEC distributed them as early as the 1960s: They were as powerful sales tools with universal appeal. The tradition continued with some of the earliest PCs. Simple (but often addictive) games are bundled with operating systems to this day.

Here’s a look at notable games that have shipped with OSes through the ages–including ones written by a few of the most famous programmers of all time.

Operating System: Unix and descendants

Year: 1971-present

The first edition of Unix, released in 1971, shipped with four games: blackjack, chess, moo (a guessing game), and tic-tac-toe. All were primitive and text-based. Since then, just about every Unix-like OS has shipped with text games to be played via a shell console. Today’s popular “bsd-games” package includes ASCII classics like Adventure, Trek (seen here), Snakes, Hunt the Wumpus, and more.

Operating System: TRS-80 Level I BASIC

Year: 1977

The TRS-80 Model I shipped with two demo games written in BASIC and supplied on cassette: backgammon and blackjack (inset), both seen here. The backgammon board and pieces and cards had to be approximated in the TRS-80′s low-res monochrome character set. Radio Shack stores across America ran these two games as sales demos, introducing many people to computer games for the first time.

Operating System: Apple DOS 3.2

Year: 1979

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak designed the Apple II’s specifications so he could reproduce Atari’s Breakout in software. The resulting software was “Brick Out,” a program written by Wozniak in Integer BASIC (also coded by Wozniak).

Brick Out made its informal debut on a prototype II at a Homebrew Computer Club meeting in 1976, then debuted commercially in a new version (“Little Brick Out”) programmed by Bruce Tognizzini that Apple released as part of DOS 3.2 in 1979.

Article continued here

[This post is excerpted with Harry McCracken’s permission from his Technologizer blog.]

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3 thoughts on “Technologizer: The Great Operating System Games”

  1. Angus Mainwaring

    With you both on this.
    Pure snobbery, in my opinion.
    In the late 80’s and 90’s the Amiga games were streets ahead in graphic quality.

  2. Hard to understand how Coomodore64 or the Amiga can be omitted in this article. I totally support Dave H on his comments.

  3. Trash-80 and Apple were garbage compared to the Commodore 64 that you don’t mention. The link to the rest of the article shows screen images of games much cruder than the omitted Commodore 64 or the Amiga, both of which were computers with games much more advanced than anything Tandy, Apple or IBM had for years. It’s a shame you were an Apple geek and left in the dark about this interesting branch of history.

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