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The company Infocom was founded on June 22, 1979 and produced numerous computer games, most of which belong to the genre of text adventures, the name used for the Infocom Interactive Fiction. Headquarters was Cambridge, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.


The company Infocom was famous for its high literary quality of their witty and challenging adventure games. While most other contemporary games of this genre understood only simple structured two-word commands like "take apple" ( "take apple " ), the games of Infocom also came with more complex input such as "take the green apple on the table " ( " take the green apple on the table " ) or " take everything from the box " ( " take everything ready out of the box " ), which was due to a very mature and well thought out text parser. This was based on the findings of research into artificial intelligence and was written in LISP - like programming language ZIL ( " Zork Implementation Language ").

Another feature of the Infocom games were the many carefully package inserts such as newspaper clippings, business cards or matchbooks with which the mood of each game was haptically mediated and proved himself to be an excellent copy. Infocom renounced as one of the few publishers that time to physically copy protected disks.

In the early home computers beginning of the 80s of the 20th century with its limited disk and memory capacities, moreover, no hard drive, it was hardly possible to have both appealing graphics and appealing text to pack in a single game. Infocom decided to use plain text. While other early computer games spelling errors were not uncommon even the games of Infocom convinced by their vivid descriptive, often laconic prose. Only shortly before the end of the company in 1989 some adventures have been published with graphics, but also in these dominated the text.

The first (and very successful ) game called Zork was written in 1977 laboratories of the University referred to as a pet project for Unix systems at MIT within an LCS ( " MIT Laboratory for Computer Science" ). Some of the authors were two years later participated in the founding of the company Infocom, which was created as a group of fellow students of the LCS. The aim of the foundation Infocom it had never been to become an entertainment software company in order but Infocom could produce a first product, the mainframe version of Zork for publication on home computers with lower capacity was divided into three parts ( 1980-1982 ).

The way of Infocom was mapped out with it, and more important titles were the other games of the Zork series, as well as, inter alia, Planet Fall (1983 ), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ( based on the book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ) ( 1984) and A Mind Forever Voyaging (1985).

Infocom released his games on as many platforms as possible, so many of the older games for more than 10 different computer systems of the time were available.

The attempt to establish itself in the market for business programs with the database software Cornerstone (1985 ), failed. Competing products such as dBASE were too powerful and Cornerstone was a failure, the Infocom in great financial difficulties led. As a result, Infocom was taken over in 1986 by the game manufacturer Activision.

After a change of management at Activision in 1989, the remaining employees of Infocom were dismissed and set the operation. Then you used when Activision called " Infocom " a few more years as a label. Some developers (including Steve Meretzky ) switched to the company founded by Bob Bates Legend Entertainment, which freshened the classic text adventure with graphics elements and, in turn, could produce a number of notable titles.


Text Adventures in the Zork universe

More text adventures

Graphic Adventures


A computer-assisted board game

Application programs


Most games from Infocom are (though not legally) still available via the Internet.

Activision, however, has published several collections of games on CD or floppy disk: "Lost Treasures of Infocom I & II " (both without the Leather Goddesses of Phobos, which had to be purchased with an accompanying voucher extra) and " Masterpieces of Infocom " (without " Hitchhiker 's Guide "and " Shogun " whose rights were reverted to the book authors ). These are only available used.

Core of all Infocom games (except Fooblitzky and Quarterstaff ) is the so-called Z -machine game file using a Z -machine emulator (including ZIP, ie Zork called Interpreter Program, which has nothing to do with the compression format ZIP) is played. This concept allowed Infocom to publish their games for the multitude former home computer platforms and systems in each identical content form.

Such interpreters are now available for many platforms and operating systems of the home computers of the 80s (such as the Apple II, Commodore 64, and Schneider / Amstrad CPC), modern Windows and Unix - based systems up to several palmtops, PDAs and Handhelds making the games even on modern computers are still usable.

With Inform there is a programming language with libraries, which makes it possible to write my own games for the Z-Machine. The Inform language is fundamentally different from ZIL, but produced Game files in the same or a slightly expanded format.