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Explore the groundbreaking Colossal Cave Adventure, 41 years on

The first ever text adventure gets an open-source update for modern PCs.

A browser-based version of Colossal Cave Adventure.
Screenshot/Dan Ackerman

Some of the earliest classic PC games were called "text adventures," and consisted of little more than text on a screen, with some rudimentary user-input moving the story along. The Zork series is perhaps the best-known example of this nearly extinct genre. Now, the first-ever text adventure computer game, 1976's Colossal Cave Adventure, has been uploaded in a creator-endorsed open-source format that plays on modern computer operating systems.

As noted by Motherboard, the game has recently been uploaded to open-source portal GitLab. The game, developed by programmer William Crowther on giant mainframe computers, went through versions written in Fortran and C before being ported by Microsoft to work in MS-DOS 1.0 in the early 1980s. Various browser-based remakes and copycats have been floating around for years, including this one on the website for the AMC show Halt and Catch Fire.

Open-source advocate Eric Raymond is behind this new version, and he writes on his blog:

"Crowther & Woods's final version - Adventure 2.5 from 1995 - has never been packaged for modern systems and distributed under an open-source license...With the approval of its authors, I bring you Open Adventure. And with it some thoughts about what it means to be respectful of an important historical artifact when it happens to be software. This is code that fully deserves to be in any museum of the great artifacts of hacker history."