The Infocom Cabinet: Explore Text Adventure History

If you enjoy digging through video game history, documents, and artefacts, you’ll want to have a poke around the archives of Steve Meretzky. Back in the ’80s he worked at Infocom, the interactive fiction specialists behind dozens of classics and curious including Zork, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Leather Goddesses of Phobos. Meretzky sure collected an awful lot of stuff over the years. A few years back, he let the chap behind the GET LAMP documentary rummage and scan things, and now Jason Scott has uploaded literally thousands of pages of design notebooks, letters, sales data, photos, and more as The Infocom Cabinet. That’s not even it all.

Jason Scott explains:

“I scanned as much as I could, and after working on Steve’s ‘design binders’, which are very large combinations of every scrap of paper related to a game, I took a run at the file cabinet, which had pretty much every major communicated aspect of the Infocom company, from memorandums and business process through to interoffice softball game preparations and crab race outcomes. I definitely didn’t get everything, but I got a whole lot. Something on the order of roughly 9,000 scanned items, in fact.”

He’s far from finished uploading, mind, but for now The Infocom Cabinet “has every design notebook/binder that Steve Meretzky kept during the period of what most people consider ‘Classic’ Infocom.” That’s Planetfall, Sorcerer, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, A Mind Forever Voyaging, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, Stationfall, and Zork Zero: The Revenge of Megaboz. Plus a load of photos and business documents. Scott hopes to share most of the other 5000-odd pages online too.

Go on, get stuck in!

8 Comments

  1. orionite says:

    And if you want to try out some of these old gems, have a look here:
    link to pot.home.xs4all.nl

  2. ansionnach says:

    Nice to see this. Those lists of verbs might come in handy, although, looking at the ones for Planetfall there aren’t any crazy ones. A Mind Forever Voyaging and Trinity are games I must play some day…

  3. Person of Interest says:

    I love the Internet Archive. I used to climb into my grandfather’s attic to dig through his decades of old National Geographic magazines, pre-War department store catalogs, electronics diagrams and blueprints… The Internet Archive has thousands of collections like that.

  4. Arglebargle says:

    Oh, how I hated Infocom games. This culminated with me cutting up the floppies for Hitchikers Guide into little pieces. Guess the EXACT Word was never so tedious.

    Archiving all this is great. So the future can have a context for the pain. Applause for that.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Tam-Lin says:

    You might have also pointed out that Jason Scott is the person behind the Archive Team, which actively tries to backup user-generated content, especially of places that have announced they’re closing down. They’re saving Internet history, since the companies that hold that information don’t usually care.

  6. Llewyn says:

    This just makes me even more sad that I seem to have lost my Lost Classics disc at some point. I suppose I should have been aware that the clue was in the title.

  7. Bing_oh says:

    Infocom’s Deadline was one of the (if not THE) very first text adventure games I played on my IBM 8088 way back in the day of 5.25 floppies and no harddrive or mouse. That’s not to say it was the first text adventure game I BEAT…it remained undefeated for quite a long time.