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Microsoft Adventure

aka: Heath H-8 Adventure
Moby ID: 4074
TRS-80 Specs

Description official descriptions

The earliest commercial home computer port of the first mainframe adventure game, Colossal Cave. Players explore said cave, searching for treasure, solving puzzles, using magic, avoiding threatening little dwarves, and navigating mazes of twisty passages, all alike.

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Credits (TRS-80 version)

Produced by
  • Microsoft
Implemented by
Instruction Booklet by



Average score: 80% (based on 1 ratings)


Average score: 3.0 out of 5 (based on 24 ratings with 2 reviews)

First PC text adventure

The Good
It was the first, writing is solid one.

The Bad
I'm trying to experience old games as they were, taking into account technical limitations of that era. Despite being made in 1981, Microsoft Adventure is not the best, what was possible in those times, from technical perspective. The game is using 40x25 text mode even if 80x25 was available on PC. IMO, it was not good decision as there's not lot of text on screen with minimum text decorations, thus reading it is a bit strain on the eyes. From that point of view, text adventure games which just came 1 year later on identical hardware (Zork, Infocom adventures) are much better in that regard.

Edit: so I found that it's possible to have 80x25 text mode in this game. I found that DOSBox-X can emulate MDA (IBM's Monochrome Display Adapter). If you boot the game with MDA emulation, voila, 80x25 is there, which is way better. 40x25 text mode is used with more common CGA, which is strange, as indeed CGA has 80x25 text mode as well (in the end even early PC-DOS 1.00 booted into that text CGA mode).

The Bottom Line
Important from historical perspective. One of the first games on IBM PC and very first text adventure on PC, when almost nothing else was available yet. But soon, it was superseded by much better entries.

PC Booter · by Vladimir Dienes · 2023

A solid conversion

The Good
Microsoft Adventure implements the most popular version of the Colossal Cave Adventure: the one from 1977 with Woods' expansions to Crowther's original material. The programmer, Gordon Letwin, clearly tried to recreate the original as closely as possible, right down to the crude parser.

The only distinctive feature is the possibility to save the state to one of two slots on the diskette at any time during the game. It adds quite some comfort to the game play, especially if you're used to playing games that are a bit newer than this one.

If you're looking to experience the original game, Microsoft Adventure is a good choice. It doesn't leave anything out, and content-wise it doesn't add anything of its own.

The Bad
This might not be the right thing for you if you're not up for the real oldschool. In case you want to have a look at the original Adventure, but would like to have an improved interface and better mechanics than the original mainframe versions, there are a number of colourful clicky-button remakes with graphics and whatnot out there. But then I don't really see why you should be playing Adventure at all. Today, the game is mostly interesting for historical reasons because of all the concepts it introduced, and for that matter, an authentic implementation like Microsoft Adventure is better suited.

The Bottom Line
A good opportunity for home-computer players to experience the original mainframe Colossal Cave, much like it would have been to play the original one. An interesting history lesson, but probably too simple if you're not specifically interested in the topic.

PC Booter · by Daniel Saner (3509) · 2008



Being such an early game, it's no surprise that even its capability to save/load was advertised as a selling point!

Since advanced players can survive in Colossal Cave for hours, Adventure allows you to stop the action in the cave. You can use your IBM Personal Computer for other things, and yet return days or weeks later and continue your Adventure journey.

This was actually worth advertising as saving and loading games wasn't a common feature back then.


Microsoft Adventure was completely written by Gordon Letwin in 1979, two years prior to the IBM release.


PBS's TV documentary Triumph of the Nerds features a video recording of a staff meeting of Software Arts, on the day the IBM PC was announced, August 12, 1981.

Software Arts were the development team of VisiCalc, a spreadsheet program for the IBM PC.

On that meeting is discussed the release of the IBM PC and it's software, including VisiCalc and Microsoft Adventure.


A hint sheet, solution sheet, complete game map, and score breakdown were all available, but you had to special-order them.


Microsoft Adventure is a port of the famous Colossal Cave Adventure, the very first Interactive Fiction game, produced in the '70s.

Press Reception

The programs offered initially to run on the I.B.M. machines will be versions of programs that have been popular on other computers. They include VisiCalc, a popular business forecasting program; three business and accounting packages by Peachtree Software; Easywriter, a word-processing package, and even Microsoft Adventure, a fantasy game. The software, however, will sell in some cases for about twice the price of the equivalent programs sold for use on other competing machines.

Copyright ©1980 The New York Times


Microsoft Adventure was the only game included with the initial set of programs announced and published for the IBM PC, making it the first commercial game on this platform.


It's an interesting fact that Microsoft made Microsoft Adventure as a PC Booter game instead of making it run on top of the IBM PC's operating system, Microsoft's DOS.

Tim Anderson about Adventure

In early 1977, Adventure swept the ARPAnet. Willie Crowther was the original author, but Don Woods greatly expanded the game and unleashed it on an unsuspecting network. When Adventure arrived at MIT, the reaction was typical: after everybody spent a lot of time doing nothing but solving the game (it's estimated that Adventure set the entire computer industry back two weeks), the true lunatics began to think about how they could do it better [proceeding to write Zork].

Tim Anderson, "The History of Zork -- First in a Series" New Zork Times; Winter 1985)

William Crowther about Adventure

I had been involved in a non-computer role-playing game called Dungeons and Dragons at the time, and also I had been actively exploring in caves — Mammoth Cave in Kentucky in particular.

Suddenly, I got involved in a divorce, and that left me a bit pulled apart in various ways. In particular I was missing my kids.

Also the caving had stopped, because that had become awkward, so I decided I would fool around and write a program that was a re-creation in fantasy of my caving, and also would be a game for the kids, and perhaps some aspects of the Dungeons and Dragons that I had been playing.

My idea was that it would be a computer game that would not be intimidating to non-computer people, and that was one of the reasons why I made it so that the player directs the game with natural language input, instead of more standardized commands. My kids thought it was a lot of fun.

— William Crowther (creator of the very first version of Adventure).

Information also contributed by Nélio and stalwart


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  • MobyGames ID: 4074
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe.

Apple II, TRS-80 added by Nélio. Heath/Zenith H8/H89 added by vedder.

Additional contributors: wanax, Pseudo_Intellectual, Nélio, vedder, Patrick Bregger.

Game added May 13, 2001. Last modified June 25, 2024.