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The Oregon Trail

Published by
Developed by
Released
Platforms
MobyRank MobyScore
Atari 8-bit
...
3.9
Windows
...
3.8
DOS
...
3.7
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Notes for later submissions...

Pseudo_Intellectual (44371) on Dec 06, 2011


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Q: It's established that the Oregon Trail "made" the Apple 2 when it won out over the TRS-80 for big educational contracts in the late '70s. Why then is it marked here as an '85 release date on the Apple 2?

A: There have been numerous versions and revisions of the Oregon Trail:

Original original "release" was Dec 3, 1971, on an HP 2100 minicomputer running HP Time-Shared BASIC. This version ran on teletype machines and had "type BANG" for hunting, and was played only by students in the class.

With more features, it became a network game in '74 under MECC,

then had source code published in May '78's Creative Computing magazine in BASIC 3.1 for the CDC Cyber 70/73-26.

It doesn't seem to have made its way to the Apple 2 until hereabouts, a conversion by John Cook provided on A.P.P.L.E.'s (Apple Pugetsound Program Library Exchange) PDS Disk series #108... undated in my morning's casual sourcing, but in this chronological ballpark.

Then an official MECC Apple 2 port happened in 1980 in the Elementary Vol 6 compilation, with the game simply entitled Oregon, with minimal graphics on Elementary Volume 6 in 1980.

(Some sources claim that the game's authors were careful to keep out insensitive "Indian attack!" events, while other players swear it was part of their Apple game -- if so, those likely belong to one of these two above releases.)

Then there was the '85 version that really was a mass experience, and then a later multimedia one... (and now facebook and iphone versions, re-igniting interest in the dormant brand.)

A good general source for the Oregon Trail story is http://www.citypages.com/2011-01-19/news/oregon-trail-how-three-minnesotans-forged-its-path/

All this because in the "40th anniversary of the first playing of Oregon Trail" gushing over the past three days I read a reference to students spending negative integers on store purchases and tricking the game into paying them. That's worth a trivia entry, I thought, plus discussion of how it was prototyped in board game form (and then developed in only two weeks), but none of those trivia items actually seem to apply to the '85-era version this entry describes, and I haven't been able to find a good source for the intermediary versions. So instead, I freeze my research in this forum thread.

Re: Notes for later submissions...

雷堂嬢太朗 -raido.jotaro- (55611) on Dec 07, 2011


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Wow. 40th anniversary, huh? I knew it was old, but I didn't realize it was that old. Amazing!

Played the Mac version of this so much as a kid. :)

Re: Notes for later submissions...

vedder (20150) on Dec 07, 2011


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Never heard of it until I started browsing around MobyGames years ago. Must've not been as popular in Europe.

Re: Notes for later submissions...

Parf (7195) on Dec 07, 2011


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I never played the game myself, but I got this t-shirt in the US a few years back because it's awesome:


Re: Notes for later submissions...

Pseudo_Intellectual (44371) on Dec 07, 2011


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Must've not been as popular in Europe.

Westward expansion into North America in the 19th century figures more prominently in the North American curriculum, to be sure, as an exercise in illustrating the hardships our forefathers experienced while taming the land we inhabit (apparently -- all my ancestors arrived off the boat in the early 20th c.) Instead, you guys get games like Europa Universalis 8)

Re: Notes for later submissions...

vedder (20150) on Dec 07, 2011


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The only educational titles I remember from elementary school are Thuis in het Milieu, Mario Teaches Typing and some topography learning tool that was included with every Grote Bos Atlas. I liked the last one, because I was always really good at it. Maybe that's why I like Europa Universalis now :)

From high school I only vaguely remember some game about a viking community and something about crop rotation or something similar. Or maybe they were the same thing. Funny that I have a better recollection of the games I played longer ago. (I guess alcohol affects the short-term memory more...)

Re: Notes for later submissions...

Pseudo_Intellectual (44371) on Dec 07, 2011


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We always remember the older games more vividly for a few reasons: fewer other games to distract from them (I know before the discovery of wareZ I played my games into the GROUND), also everything is fresh -- first impressions count for a lot! Later games you can mentally file with derivative summaries.

Re: Notes for later submissions...

Pseudo_Intellectual (44371) on Dec 07, 2011


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Wow. 40th anniversary, huh? I knew it was old, but I didn't realize it was that old. Amazing!

My favorite part of the article is when the original developer is asked by a waiter what brings him to town and he says he's being celebrated and recognized for inventing the Oregon Trail game. The waiter's eyes get big and he has to go back to tell all the staff who he's serving.

Re: Notes for later submissions...

Rola (6835) on Dec 07, 2011


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Because of the number of versions released, someone needs to clean up the whole series. E.g.: OT2 25th Anniversary Limited Edition has no covers, but they're on site under initial OT2. Screenshots need clarification of which DOS version they come from, etc.

Re: Notes for later submissions...

Pseudo_Intellectual (44371) on Dec 07, 2011


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Because of the number of versions released, someone needs to clean up the whole series

But before we can reparent submissions to the game version they truly belong to, these different versions all need entries. My above summary is a start to unraveling the tangle of the initial game. (OT2 existed before the "canon" Apple II one everyone thinks of!)