Infocom was one of the first companies selling interactive fiction during the 80s. Members from MIT’s Laboratory of Computer Science, a small group known as the Dynamic Modeling Group, founded it. After being exposed to Adventure, coming out of Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, they started working on Zork with the intention of one-upping their rivals. Written on a PDP-10, using Muddle, a LISP like language created by the DM Group, the game took two years to complete, taking up over one megabyte on the mainframe. A huge a mount of memory compared to the 16k machines that they would have to fit the program onto.

After leaving MIT the group wanted to stay together, so they founded their own company and decided to release Zork for the personal computer. It started an industry of high quality games that relied on text over graphics. Zork was their widest selling product, but other games like Enchanter, Planetfall, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Leather Goddess of Phobos are some of the best games from the cannon, and they released a total of 35 games before closing their doors in 1988.

By today’s standards these games are hard to play. They’re puzzle-fests with hunger and sleep daemons, inventory limits, instant deaths and you can’t undo commands, which mostly focus on exploration over cluing the player with a direction to go in. But they’re also classics, and even though they can be a little hard to get through, they’re still fun to play.