Speaking as a former 13-year-old computer-obsessed kid from the late ‘70s, who had occasional access to DEC or Altair BASIC on a VT-52 or Teletype, and who dug up every source of BASIC code he could, most importantly David Ahl’s 101 Computer Games …
That kid is right now completely mind-blown that the ELIZA program in that book —which was one of if not the most impressive and complicated programs he/I had ever seen — was written by another 13-year-old kid who didn’t really know what he was doing, was just trying to recreate something cool he’d seen, like me. (My own teen magnum opus ended up being an expanded version of Hunt The Wumpus with a randomized cave and more weapons and items…)
If anyone’s interested, the version of ELIZA in BASIC is here.
Very cool! This was before my time but it’s cool to hear the stories of what it was back then.
At one point, in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s, my friend and I had started writing an adventure game, based on the BASIC program listing we had seen in a magazine. Though neither of us had access to a computer at that point, or even a reference manual for any version of BASIC. It was mostly a bunch of if .. then sections where you could travel from room to room, trying to get out of the dungeon or whatever.
if .. then
I don’t know about magnum opus, but my friend wrote a Wargames (the movie) simulator. You would “dial” into a DoD computer (the VIC-20 in question didn’t have a modem), hack the password, and then I don’t remember exactly. It was, of course, used to prank his younger brother and other friends to believe that the government was coming to arrest them for their computer crimes.
I myself typed in a bunch of the computer games from the David Ahl compilation books checked out from the library, including the Eliza version discussed. It was actually a good way to learn the BASIC on my Color Computer, which differed slightly from the BASIC used in the book. My favorite from the book was the ICBM intercept program, where you try to steer an anti-ballistic missile to destroy an incoming ICBM. I ended up converting it to 3-D which made it a bit harder.
My “magnum opus” from that time would have been the Chess program that I never got quite working right. It was a simple 1-ply affair, where it just calculated a score for all possible moves and picked the best one. It wasn’t too easy to implement, with only global variables and GOSUB as the only means of structured programming!
Host here. This is a look into the history of ELIZA and Jeff Shrager’s efforts to find the original source code for it and get it working.
One of the things that I found most interesting about this is the fact that the original Eliza had the capability of being programmed interactively - one might say it was a form of ‘live coding’ :)
Really great work @adamgordonbell! Love the podcast.
(FWIW this episode pushed me over the edge to join your patreon.
That’s awesome @feoh!
Thank you very much for your support.
thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed it