Oregon (video game)
Oregon, also known as The Oregon Trail, is an educational strategy video game developed by Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger for the HP 2100 which debuted on 1971-12-03. The game was created as a teaching aide for students and meant to educate them on the difficulties pioneers would have faced traveling in a covered wagon along the actual Oregon Trail in the 1840s from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon. The game was originally played, not on a monitor, but printed on a teletype.
After a few years, the game became popular among schools in the Minnesota area, and publishing rights were bought by MECC in 1974. MECC ported the game to the CDC Cyber 70 in 1974 and Sol-20 in 1978. The CDC Cyber 70 source code was published in Creative Computing in the May 1978 issue. The game became quite successful, and, in 1980, MECC created an updated version for the Apple II which was included in a program called Elementary Volume 6. The game went on to spawn over a dozen sequels and spinoffs in the Trail series.
The HP 2100 original was programmed in HP Time-Shared BASIC, the CDC Cyber 70 port was programmed in an updated Control Data BASIC, and the Sol-20 port was programmed in Processor Technology BASIC. Source code for some of these versions is linked to below. In 2015, Chris Torrence ported the 1975 source to the Apple II using Applesoft BASIC.
In elementary school, I played a later version on the Commodore 64 in a compilation package called Expeditions. I only learned about this original version while researching the history of the game. After finding the 1975 version ported to the Apple II, I played and beat the game on 2021-04-28.
Much of the source code for these ports has been released to the public, so the game is effectively free. I have beaten it.
Best Version: Apple II
— This section contains spoilers! —
- It helped popularize the historical event and probably caused some players to become more interested in history.
- The manual that MECC produced helped teachers add educational value of the game.
- The game is short, dull, and uninformative. I found it trivial to beat, and there are no difficulty settings to make it harder.
- The frequent random events are entirely outside of your control, and, for the few things you do have control of, don't matter all that much. As long as you buy items sensibly and succeed at shooting, the game pretty much plays itself.
- The game is completely lacking in media. There are no graphics, music, or sound effects.
Creative Computing, May 1978 - Cover.
Because Oregon was released as open source, I'm including it here. This download includes the source of four different ports with the FreeBASIC port compiled.
- archive.org/details/OregonTrailMainframe - Play the 1975 Apple II port online.