USgamer features a new interview with Zork co-author and all-around Infocom implementor Dave Lebling. Very nice!
The opening flourish of the article, though, implies that in the days of Adventure, people used either green-on-black or amber-on-black video terminals to access computers, and players would see glowing letters and the “darkness of an empty command line.”
This is actually fantasy, not history. As I’ve written about in “Continuous Paper: Print interfaces and early computer writing,” as others have experienced and noted, and an amazing binder of print terminal output from an MIT student testified to me, a great deal of very early interactive fiction interaction was done on print terminals, including but not limited to the famous name-brand “Teletype.” A few people (including Lebling!) had access to top-notch video terminals, but lots of interaction was done on paper.
Will Crowther even wrote the original version of Adventure in Fortran on an ASR-33 Teletype.
So, when writing and first playing Adventure, perhaps the space that you would see on the paper is intentionally left blank – but you aren’t likely to be eaten by a grue.
I was startled to discover these two things at the post office today, the immediate implications of this message:
- The US Postal Service has developed a kiosk/robot capable of experiencing pleasure.
- Said robot is stimulated pleasurably by selling me a stamp.
I wanted to somehow let the robot know that I also appreciated the necessary service it performed. I thought about getting one of these Priority Mail stickers, writing on it “It was a pleasure, also, to be served by you, robot!,” and then slapping it on the side of the Automatic Postal Center. But the robot wouldn’t be able to read that message, would it? Maybe I could hold up a note with a similar message to the camera that is used to surveil patrons of the APC. But then I’d have to wait in line again, and I doubt the robot is capable of handwritten character recognition – it wouldn’t have asked me to type in the zip code if it was.
I can only hope that this faithful servant is among the many robot readers of my blog.
Also, I feed certain there must be some applications outside of the mail system for pleasure-experiencing robots, although none come to mind right away. Any ideas?
(Obligatory self-reference: An Automated Postal Center appears in my 2005 interactive fiction Book and Volume.)