Colossal Cave Adventure — Will Crowther’s Original Source Code

Colossal Cave Adventure Source Code (data file)Crowther’s original source code,[12] which had been presumed lost for decades, was recovered in 2005 from a backup of Don Woods’s student account at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab (SAIL).[13] The recovered files, dated March 1977, and bearing the in-game message “WELCOME TO ADVENTURE!!”, confirm that Crowther’s original was in fact a game, with puzzles (such as a sequence that involves interactions between a rusty rod, an empty birdcage, a bird, and a snake), subtle humor (such as the surprising way that the bird helps the player get past the snake), and fantasy (including a magical crystal bridge, magic words, and combat with axe-wielding dwarves). Yet Crowther’s adventures in Colossal Cave began earlier, via the Cave Research Foundation (CRF). Several caving resources shed light on the pre-history of “Adventure”, including Crowther’s 1975 map of the Bedquilt region of Colossal Cave (sometimes confused with Crowther’s original game), and a manual describing recreational caving as the CRF practiced it in the mid 70s. Insights gained from a recent CRF expedition to Colossal Cave — together with an analysis of the recovered source code and new feedback from Crowther, Woods, and others with knowledge of the original “Adventure” — clarify our understanding of an important digital artifact. — Dennis G. Jerz, “Somewhere Nearby is Colossal Cave: Examining Will Crowther’s Original “Adventure” in Code and in KentuckyDigital Humanities Quarterly 1.2 (2007)

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