Confessions of a paranoid DEC Engineer: Robert Supnik talks about the great Dungeon heist!

What an incredible adventure!

Apparently this was all recorded in 2017, and just now released.

It’s very long, but I would still highly recommend watching the full thing.

Bob goes into detail about the rise of the integrated circuit versions of the PDP-11 & VAX processors, the challenges of how Digital was spiraling out of control, and how he was the one that not only championed the Alpha, but had to make the difficult decisions that if the Alpha succeeded that many people were now out of a job, and many directions had to be closed off.

He goes into great detail how the Alpha was basically out maneuvered politically and how the PC business had not only dragged them down by management not embracing the Alpha but how trying to pull a quick one on Intel led to their demise.

Also of interest was his time in research witnessing the untapped possibilities of AltaVista, and how Compaq had bogged it down, and ceded the market to the upstart Google, the inability to launch a portable MP3 player (Although to be fair the iPod wasn’t first to market by a long shot, it was the best user experience by far).

What was also interesting was his last job, working at Unisys and getting them out of the legacy mainframe hardware business and into emulation on x86, along with the lesson that if you can run your engine in primary CPU cache it’s insanely fast (in GCC land -Os is better than -O9).

The most significant part towards the end of course is where he ‘rewinds’ his story to go into his interest in simulations, and of course how he started SIMH when he had some idle time in the early 90’s. SIMH of course has done an incredible amount of work to preserve computing history of many early computers. He also touches on working with the Warren’s TUHS to get Unix v0 up and running on a simulated PDP-7 and what would have been a challenge in the day using an obscure Burroughs disk & controller modified from the PDP-9.

Yes it’s 6 hours long! But really it’s great!

I’ve got to stop watching the blogger stats…

Because then I see something like this come my way as a query from google:

“is there a version of colossal cave adventure that runs on 64 bit systems”

Well I certainly can’t let that one go unanswered.

So whomever you are stranger, here it is. Well for Win64 x86_64 machines.

This is built using f2c on MinGW64. I’ll spare you the details, but it compiled, and fired up and I got lost in the woods… So I assume it is working…..

For those of you not in the know, colossal cave adventure, or sometimes known simply as ‘adventure’ is the grand daddy of all text adventure games.

As mentioned in this timeline of adventure versions, adventure was written by Willie Crowther and expanded by Don Woods. This version, the Kenneth Plotkin version was derived from Kevin Black’s DOS version and Bob Supnik’s Decus versions.

With that said, there is a tonne of INT2 and INT4 casting, which I’ve just removed as I’m passing it through f2c. I suppose I could have seen about fixing the variables, but I just fixed the ones f2c and gcc really complained about. Included in the download is the modified source, and the original source, so anyone can take a look at it.

Naturally Wikipedia has a most excellent article on the history of adventure, check it out.

Colossal Cave in 64bits!

Colossal Cave in 64bits!


Colossal Cave on the PDP-8 & OS/8 redux

Just an FYI I got a quick message from Rick Murphy regarding the OS/8 image for Adventure. The new image is now located here:

Naturally, check out his page with all the information regarding Adventure on OS/8 right here:

Once more again, special thanks to Rick for making this whole “adventure adventure” possible!!

Colossal Cave on the PDP-8 & OS/8

While I was tracking down some FORTRAN versions of Zork/Adventure I came across the original ‘advent’ for OS/8. Not realizing it at the time, but this ‘advent’ I had come across was not the ‘adventure’ of zork fame, but adventure of Colossal Cave fame. Colossal Cave was written by Willie Crowther and quickly became one of the most popular games for it’s time. Because it was written in FORTRAN it was portable to various machines, not limited to the original version for the PDP-10, to even the IBM-PC (Microsoft released it the same time as MS-DOS 1.0). The version in question has been expanded by Don Woods to include the fantasy aspect of it. And with SIMH it’s very easy to get running.

First you will need a PDP-8 emulator. Natrually I’d recommend SIMH. You can download source and binaries from the sourceforge page here:

With the emulator in hand, next I’d just recommend you use the disk image graciously provided by Rick Murphy with both OS/8 and the adventure program already compiled and indexed here:

Now all you need to do is setup an .ini file for the PDP8 emulator. It’s very easy just save this in a .ini file with the emulator in the disk image in the same directory. If you call it pdp8.ini it will auto execute when you run the pdp8 emulator.

set cpu 32K
set cpu idle
att rk0 advent.rk05
boot rk0

Now go ahead and run the emulator.

You will be greeted with a . prompt. Now type in:


This will run the FORTRAN runtime system… It’s funny to note that in this day and age we take things like runtime systems for granted as this kind of thing is bound to the exe, and we just run things never thinking of where they came from. There is no doubt the DLL has been an improvment over stuff like this from the 1970’s… Anyways with the FORTRAN runtime loaded we are now at a * prompt. We just have to tell it the FORTRAN program to run, in this case it’s ADVENT. So type in the following:


You will still be at the * prompt, to execute it, hit the escape key. Then you will get the following output:


Ok, now you are ready to enter the FORTRAN version of Colossal Cave under OS/8. And it shouldn’t have been *that* hard… 🙂

Now for anyone wondering about the original version of Colossal Cave, The original FORTRAN source to adventure has been located here:

And if anyone is brave enough, OpenWATCOM includes it’s FORTRAN compiler.. not to mention G77, and of course the original FORTRAN stuff that can be run in SIMH. I’d leave this up to the reader as my FORTRAN skills are… lacking. I don’t know if it’s me, but I started out with the IBM FORTRAN on the RS/6000 back in the AIX 3.2.1 days, and then went to Microsoft FORTRAN 5.. Now it seems I’ve forgotten just about everything, and what I do recall works on few and far of the things out there…. But that’s another story for another day. Oh and if you search around there is a C version of this….