Microcomputer Games


In 1979-80, the Museum bought it's first microcomputer. At the time, the University did not use microcomputers, and the purpose of acquiring one for the Museum was so that microcomputer games could be added to the collection.

The graphic on the left depicts the Museum's first microcomputer. It was produced by the Compucolor Corporation in Norcross, Georgia. It was a one piece plastic case with a 13" monitor, a big keyboard, and the system unit all in one piece. There was a small separate battery operated speaker that could be attached that would add a variety of beeps, clicks, and whistles to the games. The computer could generate 8 different colors on the monitor. There was 8K of RAM - a surprising amount for that time, but adequate for playing the many games.

The "operating system" was written in the BASIC language. Commands were typed and were text based. The "operating system" had to be "loaded" into RAM from a floppy disc before any game could be played. This version was designed to make particular use of the many electronics in the Compucolor Computer. This was before there was such things as a "graphical user interface" or a "mouse".

Ppaer Floppy

The graphic on the right is of the 2nd generation 5 1/2" cardboard floppy disk which contained the magnetized computer code that could generate the game on the Compucolor computer. All the games were written in a special version of the BASIC computer language. Some of this game code was produced by the Compucolor Corporation. Additional games on floppy discs where available from Ralfarithms Software Services in Los Angles, and a large number of coded games were from the Northern California Compucolor Users Group. Some discs contained a number of games, while other discs only included one or two games. Usually the latter were the more traditional games that required a sizeable amount of computer code to generate the graphics and the action in the games

The Museum collection includes 38 games for the Compucolor Computer. The following is a list of these games:

Acey Deucy Backgammon Battleship
Blackjack Breakthrough Camel
Caterpillar Chess Concentration Letters
Concentration Numbers Derby Race Dungeons
Gomoku Hammurabi Hangman
Kino Kismet Mancala
Mill Monopoly Popshot
Quintominoes Reversi Roulette
Scif Auto Race Shoot Out Slot Machine
Snakes Space 2020 Star Trek
Target Three Out Tower Puzzle
Trade Trap Two-Ten
Yahtzee Zilch

Micro Floppy Disc

In 1981 the Museum was given its first IBM PC by the University, and within a short time the collection of microcomputer games grew. These early games over time were written in a number of computer languages, and were available on 3.5" plastic floppy discs.

Eventually many of the traditional games that were written for the Compucolor Computer also became available for the IBM PC. These latter games operated under the Microsoft Windows system. Later, as the hardware improved, so did the playability of the games with the use of a "graphical user interface" and a "mouse".

The Museum collection now includes many different types of microcomputer games ranging from those which Microsoft provided along with each new version of Windows, many single games adapted from traditional board games, to a series of very elaborate jigsaw puzzles for the computer which were purchased on CDROM.

As game playing on a microcomputer has become a universal phenomenon, most games that were designed for other media are now also available for microcomputer play, while some have been designed especially for microcomputer play such as ZUMA (screen photograph above). Production and sale of these items are now a major business throughout the world. In fact, passengers on major airlines are now offered the option of playing some of these same interactive microcomputer games at their seats on specially built microcomputer hardware, instead of watching a film or a television program.

The only phenomena that appears to be supplanting the playing of games on a desktop mircrocomputer or notebook computer is the next stage in their development - the computerized game machine and Internet game playing not only on a notebook or netbook computer - but on a cellphone!

Last update March 22, 2010