Infocom Games


Did you ever love Zork?  Personally I was into Planetfall.  And what made Infocom cool was the ‘feelies’.  I guess it’s pretty obvious that if you found me here, then you know all about the rise and fall of Infocom, and how it was how they wanted to diversify into business applications… And their portable strategy backfired big time.

But back to the games.  While talking to someone and the topic of Infocom came up, I had to see how many I had as I’d managed to buy one of the ‘collection’ sets of Infocom games.  Sure I felt like “I had them all” but after finding accardi-by-the-sea I found out that not only was I missing some, but they actually had every version of these games that had been released!

Talk about an exceptional collection!

And if you love all the packaging, check out here & here.


Zork on Windows NT 3.1 Pre-Release

So I’ve had a few pre-releases, and I’ve not ported anything to it as yet so it’s been kind of silly. So at any rate I figured I’d clean up dungeon to run. So I managed to get the source onto the drive under qemu (-hdb fat:\temp\zork), and from there I got it to compile, and it crashed out.


Well that was painful!

So I took a que from the sample directory, and saw how it built a simple hello world, and took notice of the ‘cvtomf’ process… No doubt this early pre-release stuff is not anywhere near as stable as what NT was when it was around late 1992 or when it shipped in 1993. So spending some 30 minutes with the makefiles I got an exe that didn’t bluescreen the OS…

But still crashed. If only I had a debugger… Oh wait, what is this? Some kind of built in debugger?

I’ve never used NTSD, or the “NT Symbolic Debugger” before. It’s like debug from MS-DOS days, just with far more bells and whistles… Although the pre-release versions are lacking a lot of these features, I did manage to find the #1 thing I end up using, and that is the callstack, it’s bt in gdb speak, but it’s nice to see who called who before it exploded.

Here you can see how the program flowed from the mainCRTStartup which then catapults into main, then we see it calling sigcatch & signal, then it dies. Well I’m pretty sure that Zork doesn’t need signals, and that Windows NT around 1991 was far from feature complete and I bet emulating Unix signals wasn’t exactly high on the priority list.. If anything they were going nuts about meeting some kind of Comdex show deadline, and trying to bring the MIPS port up to parity with the i386. So I did the logical thing, which was to remove the signal portions from f2c & libf2c, and recompile.

So here we go, All the hallmarks of 1991 and Windows, we’ve got solitare, reversi and Zork (Dungeon) translated from fortran into C, and actually running!

So here is October of 1991, and December of 1991. Both needed long filenames to compile, I just used a HPFS slave disk. I just used Windows NT 3.51 to transfer stuff in & out as it’s got TCP/IP to make it easy, as it’ll also read HPFS. I guess you could use the MS-DOS pkunzip and fix the filenames yourself but I’ll leave that to the reader. The source trees ought to be identical, I left the object files & executables in there.. Naturally the December pre-reelase won’t run the October executable… Or link correctly with it’s object files.

I’d also imagine it’ll work on any version of NT that ships with a cl386 SDK… and probably any modern one by fixing the reference to cl386 in the makefile.


This isn’t virtual, but rather the real deal. I scored an HP zx2000.

HP Itanium

My HP zx2000

Just got it out of the box, I had to remove the funky sides to get it under my desk… And I’ve just installed Windows XP onto it now. My first observation is that the included DVD drive from HP, the HL-DT-ST GDR8160B has got to be one of the slowest drives I’ve dealt with in a while. And kinda finicky as the first attempt at installing XP failed with all kinds of errors, while a swift kick and a power cycle got the thing running. And let’s see it in action..

This thing likes to tell you over and over that it’s the 64bit version. It may look like XP but it’s not the 32bit version. It is however much like the x86_64 version with no NTVDM, no WOW. But worse, no Virtual PC. It can run i386 win32 exe’s but at a performance penalty. I saw mention that the Itanium C compiler can be found in the November 2001 Platform SDK, so I downloaded that, and installed it.

It’s slow.

It’s annoyingly slow.

All that talk of EPIC, and moving the complexity to the compiler isn’t a joke. Did I mention, it is *SLOW*? I thought it was running an i386 version of the compiler but the taskman didn’t show any stars next to the processes so I’m assuming not, but I’m not sure. I also am assuming that the November 2001 SDK is timed with the “Windows 2000 Advanced Server Limited Edition” for the Itanium. So I figured for a quick test, I’d build some dungeon… Except the f2c interpreter broke in some strange manner. I’d first think it’s something to do with integer sizes, but it worked on x86_64.. So I cheated, used the i386 version of f2c, and built the library and dungeon. Also I found out about this flag, /As32 which builds exe’s in the 32bit address space. f2c will run once it’s built like that. And although compiling f2c takes forever, once built it is FAST.

It worked. The exe is over 900kb! Without at doubt when they called it EPIC they meant the compiler speed, and exe size. For the crazy, you too can play zork on your Itanium here.

And yes my attempt at building SDL bombed too. But I’ll have to spend more time with the box.

iBCS2 & NetBSD

I know that there is some people out there that seem to be all into Xenix, and old binaries… So I thought I’d share this little gem I found before I head out for the day… I came across this post, talking about how ibcs2 has fallen apart in the latest version of NetBSD. But the gem in there is that version 4.0.1 works perfectly fine!

So I copied in the old gcc, filled in some bits and….

Qemu 0.14.0 NetBSD 4.0.1 running Xenix gcc

Qemu 0.14.0 NetBSD 4.0.1 running Xenix gcc

It works!

Robots is so perfect you’d never know!

Qemu 0.14.0 NetBSD 4.0.1 running robots

Qemu 0.14.0 NetBSD 4.0.1 running robots

And it runs Xenix Dungeon/Zork without missing a beat!

Qemu 0.14.0 NetBSD 4.0.1 running dungeon

Qemu 0.14.0 NetBSD 4.0.1 running dungeon

So this may be yet another avenue for some people… I’d suspect that you could even build the 32v userland under the Xenix tools…? Since all the default stuff is keyed to licensing, but you could roll your own Unix v7 32bit userland which basically is Xenix and go from there…. Maybe even some of the OpenSolaris SYSVR4 stuff as well but that sounds too ambitious!

SPARC NetBSD on Qemu 0.14.0

I came across this link, in some kind of vain search to see if NetBSD Sparc could run on Qemu.  And the answer is a resounding yes!

I have to admit it was pretty simple to setup too. I did a network install, so all I needed in a minimal config was a GENERIC kernel, and the miniroot. I did it this way because booting with the inserted kernel lets me easily choose my root…

First I created a 2GB data disk, then start up Qemu like this…

qemu-system-sparc.exe -kernel netbsd-GENERIC -L pc-bios -hda sparc.disk -hdb miniroot.fs -net nic -net user

And it’ll boot up!

I specify the root to be sd1c, I’m not sure if it’d pick up on sd1, or sd1a but at any rate sd1c certainly works. The other gotcha I found was the keyboard, sun-type4 worked best. I also had to configure the network manually (maybe I missed something?) but the settings are simple for NAT.

mask 0xffffff00

Any attempt to ping the gateway will fail. But it’s nothing to worry about, and the install can continue normally. I pulled the rest of NetBSD down via HTTP, and it booted up!

I should also add that the CD-ROM iso install works as well. And the NetBSD site has lots of ways of getting the install ISO for the sparc.

And of course, will it run Zork?

Yes it does!

A little more fun with the Windows 3.0 working model

FORTRAN Dungeon on Windows 3.0 Demo

So with a little pushing around I managed to create a stand alone version of dungeon (zork) for Windows 3.0 . Naturally this version doesn’t require windows, just some kind of MS-DOS system with a 80286 processor, and either EGA or VGA graphics card. I guess I could have tried some CGA/MDA love but I didn’t.

So for anyone wanting to have some fun with an ancient box, I’ve provided both floppy disk images, and an install directory source to install this. It’s kind of funny how 7zip can get another 50% on the Windows 3.0 compress utility.

Otherwise it’s like the other Windows Demo/Working model software..

Text based installer…

GUI Installer

And the desktop.

This is the old f2c version of dungeon/zork I ported ages ago. Oh and thanks to the magic that is jdosbox, you can testdrive it from a Java enabled pc just by simply clicking here.

Early Windows applications

With the dawn of Windows 2.x there was some push to make Windows a ‘runtime kit’ or basically Microsoft would let vendors ship a stripped down version of windows with their application to get people used to the idea of Windows. Back in the 1.x & 2.x days nobody really used it full time, but it was more so for the one or two applications of the time that needed it.

Adobe Pagemaker was the first application to take advantage of this runtime version of windows, but with the introduction of Windows 3.0 it was the end of the runtime version.

However Microsoft did have a ‘working demo’ version of Windows 3.0 . I still haven’t been able to track this down, however I have been able to find working demos of Power Point, Excel and Schedule.

So let’s take a look at this little thing, shall we?

For anyone who want’s to check it out, you can download this file, which has the whole thing setup. If you want to install it yourself, you can find what I’ve found so far here.

I’m running this under DOSBox, so I don’t have to worry about copying files in & out, or redistributing any operating system, like MS-DOS.

As you can see from the MS-DOS setup, it looks pretty similar to the Windows 3.0/3.1 setup that we all know.

And just like 3.0 / 3.1 there is also a graphical phase.

Once the setup is complete we run this demo as ‘windemo’.

As you can see it looks just like Windows 3.0. Well for the most part it is Windows 3.0 .

And as you can see, the demo executes in 286 protected mode, giving us the maximum 16mb of ram.. Not to bad for a demo.

So we get a limited version of Excel 2, that is good enough to test out some basic stuff.. Or for basic people it’s really all you would ever need. And yes the model will let you save, print, and do a simple graph. I think that is what the bulk of people with Office 2010 do anyways, here you go, and for FREE!

Next is Powerpoint 2.0 I’ve never been one for presentations myself, but here is a ‘hand tiger’.. I’ve never gotten why the clipart is so .. clipped, but there you go. Sorry no Ligers.

And finally Microsoft Project 1.0 The tutorial is lubriciously missing. Perhaps there should have been some kind of written pamphlet that accompanied the disk? Also see the conventional memory? This screams Windows 2.0 application.

Of course the working model of Windows 3.0 will not let you run ‘normal’ applications. But exiting, and copying the application to ‘progman.exe’ will get you there.

This is my f2c port of dungeon (zork) to win16, running on this minimal environment without issues.

Who knows there may be enough windows there to host QuickC for Windows. I haven’t tried, I have a real copy of 3.0 so I’ve not worried. But for you other people……

If anyone has a working model of Word, let me know…

Zork on the IBM Mainframe (VM/370 CMS) it lives!

There we have it, after a LOT of fighting the emulators, missing bits, LOTS of help the hercules-os380 mailing list, and the EXCEPTIONAL of one Paul Edwards, and it’s running.

It seems to be Dungeon version 1.2C

read news
01-MAR-81 Late Dungeon Edition
This is a version of Zork on VM/370

The problems with it are:
-Lack of an endgame.
-Simple parser (no compound sentences).
-Numerous bugs and spelling errors.
But so what.

If you encounter problems or find logic, spelling, or usage bugs,
keep them to yourself.


It’s a little odd playing zork on a mainframe…

Zork on the Mainframe?

Ok, I know this title 99% of the time is a ‘oh whatever’ as most people seem to have confused mini’s with mainframes… PDP-10’s, PDP-11’s, VAX’s (even the massive 11/780), were all minicomputers…

But I came across this post, which just mentions in passing that there was a port of dungeon (zork) to the IBM Mainframe…

And rescued via the internet archive, is Melinda Varian’s home page, which includes…. Dungeon in VMARC format…

The sad thing is that I can barely remember logging on to TSO, using ISPF, and getting out… I was so bad with the system that I’d use an empty file as a template, as copying files was easy, but creating a file on the host took me a whole day.

I vaguely recall using this IND$ thing to transfer files, but I don’t know what you need exactly to facilitate it…

So I’ve downloaded hercules/380 along with the VM370 SixPack and… remembered that I don’t… remember much, let alone enough to actually operate VM/370.

I tried passing VMARC files through PC ARC, and got.. nothing, I even manually byteswapped the files to get nothing.

Oh well I’m at an impass, but maybe some mainframe dude will see this one day, and take a peek.

Oh it’s the end of 2010, welcome to 2011.

I got it to run on VM/370 CMS.