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Wikipedia: Infocom
Infocom
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Infocom, was a Cambridge, Massachusetts based software company, that produced numerous text adventure computer games. It was founded on June 22, 1979 and lasted as an independent company until 1986 when it was bought by Activision. Activision finally shut down the Infocom division in 1989, although they released some titles in the 1990s under the Infocom Zork brand.

Overview

Infocom was well-known in game-playing circles for the parsers used in its witty, ambitious text adventures, which allowed the user to type complex instructions to the game. Unlike earlier adventure games which only understood commands of the form 'verb noun' (e.g. "get apple"), Infocom adventures could understand commands like "get the green apple on the table." Infocom games were written using a programming language that ran on a standard virtual machine the Z-machine. As the games were text based and used variants of the same z-machine interpreter, Infocom was able to release most of their games for the various popular personal computers of the day -- Apple II, IBM PC compatible, Atari ST, Amiga, Commodore 64 and the Mac. The company was also known for shipping creative props with its games.

Inspired by Colossal Cave, Marc Blank and Dave Lebling created what was to become the first Infocom game Zork in 1977 at MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science. The game was released in 1980 and eventually sold more than a million copies. Lebling and Blank each authored several more games and additional game writers were hired, including notably Steve Meretzky. Other popular and inventive titles included the rest of the Zork series, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and A Mind Forever Voyaging.

In 1984 Infocom started putting resources into a new division to produce business products. In 1985 they released a database product, Cornerstone. Unfortunately this product sold only 10,000 copies, not enough to cover the development expenses. Whereas their games had benefitted significantly from the portability offered by running on top of a virtual machine, this strategy did not prove to be a significant advantage for Cornerstone. Most businesses were moving to the IBM PC platform by that time, so portability was no longer a significant differentiator. Infocom had sunk much of the money from games sales into Cornerstone and were left in significantly worse financial position. This led ultimately to the acquisition by Activision.

Titles

  • The Zork series:
    • The original Zork Trilogy: Zork I (1980), Zork II (1981), Zork III (1982)
    • The Enchanter Trilogy: Enchanter (1983), Sorcerer (1984) and Spellbreaker (1985)
    • Beyond Zork, 1987
  • Deadline, 1982
  • Starcross, 1982
  • Suspended, 1983
  • Infidel, 1983
  • Planetfall, 1983
  • The Witness, 1983
  • Cutthroats, 1984
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (co-authored by Douglas Adams), 1984
  • Seastalker, 1984
  • Suspect, 1984
  • A Mind Forever Voyaging, 1985
  • Wishbringer, 1985
  • Ballyhoo, 1986
  • Hollywood Hijinx, 1986
  • Leather Goddesses of Phobos, 1986
  • Moonmist, 1986
  • Trinity, 1986
  • Border Zone, 1987
  • Bureaucracy, 1987 (co-authored by Douglas Adams)
  • The Lurking Horror, 1987
  • Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It, 1987
  • Plundered Hearts, 1987
  • Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels, 1987
  • Stationfall, 1987

Legacy

The copyrights to the Infocom games are believed to be still held by Activision. Many Infocom titles remain available throughout the Internet community (legally in the case of the Zork trilogy, but illegally in most other cases). They are available as Z-machine story files, which require a Z-machine emulator (a Z-code interpreter) to play. These interpreters have been written for numerous platforms, ranging from older computers to palmtops to the IBM PC and Apple Macintosh, and even Java.

External links


  

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
Modified by Geona