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.


The oldest CP/M ‘simulator’ out there.

I was surprised to come across this little simulator simply called ‘com‘ tonight. This program started out as a 8080 instruction simulator for a mc68000 machine running CP/M, back in 1984, and was written by one Jim Cathey.

‘Com’ was then later written up, and published in Dr. Dobb’s Journal.

From there it’s evolved it’s assembly core to some other 68000 cpu families and platforms, then the MIPS and PowerPC. Then in 2006 the CPU core was re-written in C.

For a while it’s primary platform was a 68000 based Unix, and it still has a lot of unix’isims buried in the source. I’m sure it’d build in MinGW though.

But in the meantime I figured it was yet another reason to fire up the old gcc 1.37.1 for Xenix to give this thing a go.

The biggest, and dumbest thing I fought was without realizing there was both a ‘Makefile’, and a ‘makefile’, and gmake kept running the lowercase one, while I was editing the Makefile in vain… But with that out of the way, and a few includes to fix, it was VERY straight forward to build. Not to mention running Xenix on Virtual PC 2007 on my new intel core i7 cpu, it compiles the C version just about as quickly as I can hit the enter key.

Because it’s on Virtual PC the last few lines of the console are garbled.. Oh well, at least the floppy controller works (as long as you hard code /dev/fd0 to 2,60).

So, here is a picture:

Xenix 2.3.4 with ccom zork1

Xenix 2.3.4 with ccom zork1

And a disk image. All I’ve really done is tweaked a few things, and built this with gcc so it includes a binary for Xenix systems. Also the ‘com.tar.gz’ package did include quite a few sample programs… is fun, along with zork 1,2 &3!

On a final note, I thought the Xenix thing was a good road to head down because in the 1990’s there was this BIG push for ibcs2 compatibility across all these Unix platforms on the i386 cpu. Well it’s been largely abandoned work, and the best I got was OpenBSD complaining that its always out of memory, and NetBSD kernel panics!.. Open Solaris has *NO* ibcs2 compatibility even left.

I suspect it doesn’t matter, esp now that you can run some real ibcs2 OS’s in a VM, who needs 3rd party emulation?

I guess I’m just too late to the party.

Frotz on Xenix

Well after having some fun with gcc, I wanted to try something a little more… “fun”. I’ve had good luck in the past with ‘dumb frotz‘ on the old BSD stuff (4.2/4.3 etc) but surprisingly I had no luck at all with gcc & xenix.

Well that was rather odd.

So in some crazed attempt I tried the regular version of Unix Frotz 2.32. Xenix was lacking the memmove procedure, but thanks to an old post here, I was able to get it running under Xenix.

Ok, fair warning it is SLOW. It’ runs the cpu into 1.0 levels… I don’t know why. My attempts at building gdb and using it from that old Soviet site hasn’t met with much luck.

Oh, and it was easier to massage some make files with gnumake.

But it does run!

If anyone want’s to give it a whirl it’s available here.

Zork lives on the Altair!

Ok, I can’t sleep so I thought I’d rummage through the dungeon of Zork…

And what better platform to do so than the Altair?

First get your altairz80.exe, out of simh, or just build it yourself…

Then you’ll need a copy of CP/M! (

Finally a copy of Zork (

unzip everything into a directory, then run the following

C:\altair>altairz80.exe cpm2

And with any luck you’ll be greeted with the following:

Altair 8800 (Z80) simulator V3.7-1
64K CP/M Version 2.2 (SIMH ALTAIR 8800, BIOS V1.25, 2 HD, 15-Jan-07)

Just like MS-DOS right?. … Not quite. Anyways there is time to tour later, but for now there is dungeons to explore.

The Altair has two floppies (out of eight) and a 8mb hard disk!… So let’s go to the hard disk on I:


changing drives is just like MS-DOS, letter, colon then hit enter. Ok now lets copy in the zork game from the native PC into the emulator. Hat’s off to Peter Schorn for this!

b:read zork1.dat

If all goes well it’ll look like this:

READ V-2.21 (03-Dec-06) SIMH Interface V003

Read from “ZORK1.COM” and write to “ZORK1.COM”.
PTR: unit is read only8.5kB written.

READ V-2.21 (03-Dec-06) SIMH Interface V003

Read from “ZORK1.DAT” and write to “ZORK1.DAT”.
PTR: unit is read only83kB written.

Ok, now with that out of the way, lets enter the Dungeon!

ZORK I: The Great Underground Empire
Copyright (c) 1981, 1982, 1983 Infocom, Inc. All rightsreserved.
ZORK is a registered trademark of Infocom, Inc.
Revision 88 / Serial number 840726
West of House

You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with
a boarded front door.
There is a small mailbox here.

>open mailbox
Opening the small mailbox reveals a leaflet.

>take leaflet

>read leaflet

ZORK is a game of adventure, danger, and low cunning. In it

you will explore some of the most amazing territory ever seen
by mortals. No computer should be without one!”


Ok, now we are playing one of the greatest games ever. Wikipedia has an awesome article on Zork ( ) And along with ( ) You can party like its 1982.