The Green Screen

by mike on June 24, 2010

in Gaming,Geek,Reminiscing

The Colossal Cave

It’s Thursday, and I can feel Friday coming right around the corner.  It’s too soon already, and yet I am eager to go home and see my family.

For fun, I am experimenting with a minimalist editor called “Writer, the internet typewriter“.  Of course, it’s only usable if you’ve got an internet connection, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem these days.  Its black background and green text are appealing, soothing and allow me to properly reminisce about my first contact with computing.  (If you’re using Firefox, visit this editor and then hit F11 to go into full screen mode and you’ll get a better sense of what I’m seeing.)

Many years ago when I was but a child, my father, an accountant at the time, would take me to the office with him every so often.  He is a workaholic and would go in to do some filing, or run off some reports and I would tag along and “help.”  Most often, I think I spent my time filing, sorting, drawing on old printouts, or helping my Dad thread those giant green-bar printouts onto hanging binders.  After a while I was promoted and allowed to help double-check his math with an adding-machine.  Yes, one of those giant-sized calculators, about the size of a small cash-register.  Finally, I got access to a computer terminal, one of those TV-screen-looking things with a keyboard.  No mouse!  When you turned it on, there was a bright red LED that would light up on it, and after it warmed up you would see the main menu.  And… all the way at the bottom of it, was an entry for Games.

Games?  On an office computer?  Yes!  Hang-Man, a dozen or so others and… Adventure, “The Colossal Cave” —  Just like in Wargames.

I’d rush through my tasks for that office visit so that I could play Adventure.  A few times, my dad even brought a terminal and modem home so I could play from the dining room.

I can still remember the excitement of staring at the glowing green phosphors of the screen.  No mouse.  Just me, the clicking of the keyboard and a flashing cursor on the screen.

“Inventory”  “Go west”  “Get lamp”  There were a limited number of words that Adventure would recognize, and they had to be used in the proper context and in the proper order.  What fun!  I remember being able to stare at that screen for hours, just playing those games.  I would beg my dad to bring home the terminal.

So here I sit, with this (so far) awesome green screen text editor.  Just me, the green LCD pixels…  the barely audible keyboard and the incessant droning of the people who sat down next to me and decided to have an office meeting where everyone could hear them.  <sigh>

Does anyone have access to a mainframe that still runs Adventure on a green screen?

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{ 5 comments }

Walrilla June 25, 2010 at 10:34 am

That’s awesome! I started on 3270 IBM green-screens way back in the day, and still use a 3270 emulator at work for accessing TSO/ISPF as a mainframe sys admin.

mike June 25, 2010 at 11:39 am

Oh? And do you have Adventure running on it, HMMM?

Teresa June 27, 2010 at 2:50 pm

My first PC had a black and amber screen. At that time I was also working on a tandem via a terminal with the black and green screen. Unfortunately I was trying to get work done, take care of a family, and go to school so the nostalgia part eludes me. LOL.

mike June 27, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Ahhh… Good ‘ol Black and Amber. Sounds almost like a good name for a beer.

Perhaps your nostalgia might be equivalent to the “we walked to school up hill, both ways, without shoes on a gravel road… and we liked it!”

Teresa June 27, 2010 at 11:55 pm

LOL! I’m trying to remember. I know that since I was dialing in on a 2400 baud modem, it took me forever to write code. I was in school part time (2 classes a semester) one class was code of one sort or another the other was nearly always a math class. So I did only get one hour of sleep a night for the last 5 weeks of every semester. It all rather blurs together after all these years. Every night they’d pull the plug at 4:30am which I always found very annoying.

When I was doing the Unix class (that was an easy one and I did it as summer school) the first thing I had to ask the teacher was how to turn off the chat feature! OMG – idiot people wanted to chat with me while I was trying to get homework done. I’ve never really taken to chat since that time. *grin*

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