This Woman Inspired One of the First Hit Video Games by Mapping the World’s Longest Cave

The Medium headline calls Colossal Cave Adventure “one of the first the video games,” but it’s a stretch to use “video” to describe the modality of a command line text parser game. The former Patricia Crowther was very helpful to me when I interviewed her by telephone for my DHQ article. I could have written quite a lot more about her as a technologist, rather than mostly as a caver, but I wasn’t writing a book.

I enjoyed reading this article by Claire L. Evans, an excerpt from her 2018 book, Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet. This passage does an excellent job capturing the value of studying computer code as a human artifact:

Patricia Crowther’s ex-husband coded her cave maps into one of the first hit adventure games in the 1970s, and she had no idea.

I wouldn’t have phrased this as “her cave maps” since a mapping expedition is a communal process.

I also found this passage notable: