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Forty Years Later: How 'Oregon Trail' Was Born

Forty Years Later: How ‘Oregon Trail’ Was Born

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Forty Years Later: How ‘Oregon Trail’ Was Born

Jessica Lussenhop | City Pages | January 20, 2011 | 4,278 words

With no monitor, the original version of Oregon Trail was played by answering prompts that printed out on a roll of paper. At 10 characters per second, the teletype spat out, “How much do you want to spend on your oxen team?” or, “Do you want to eat (1) poorly (2) moderately or (3) well?” Students typed in the numerical responses, then the program chugged through a few basic formulas and spat out the next prompt along with a status update. “Bad illness—medicine used,” it might say. “Do you want to (1) hunt or (2) continue?”