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June 4, 2008 / Ben Chun

1982-84: The Golden Era

I’m on an educational computer game nostalgia trip right now. Yes, nerdtastic. I was drifting around the internet today and somehow ended up getting reminded of Rocky’s Boots and Robot Odyssey. These were puzzle logic games that I played on the Apple IIc. I was in elementary school and that thing came with 128k of RAM and a 5.25″ floppy drive. Color display. Ready to rock. I’m not sure how my parents knew that they should give me games that would teach me about logic gates, sensors, and circuits, but I have a feeling that these games influenced and fueled my later interest in computer science.

I have not consciously thought of these games for many years. I did run across this set of Apple IIc unboxing photos a few months back, but that didn’t trigger any memory of these games. Weird. I must have spent hours and hours on these. Once I saw the screen shots and started thinking about them, I knew I would want to play with them again. So I found an emulator and loaded them up. It’s amazing how much can be communicated and accomplished with so little. It’s a reminder of the incredible, exponential advancements that have been made in hardware. And it’s also a reminder that it is not graphics or raw processing power that creates engagement, but the content and the presentation in context.

I guess I was just hungry for little puzzle-like things to figure out. I know I also played stuff like Where In The World is Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail, but somehow those didn’t impact me as much. But I would also guess that Rocky’s Boots and Robot Odyssey were pretty far outside the mainstream. Anyone else remember these or any other old-school educational games that shaped your brain?

2 Comments

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  1. orange / Jun 5 2008 11:41 am

    nowhere near as nerdy, but: apparently not everyone in my age group played Number Munchers to excess the way i did. i don’t know why–it was soothing but goal-oriented at the same time. god i loved that game.

  2. Dad / Jun 5 2008 5:45 pm

    You were in 1st grade.

    mornings, daylight just peeking, kneeling in your PJ’s with enclosed feet in from the of IIc

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