In honor of Cruzio’s 30th anniversary this year, we’ll be putting out some of our crazy old stuff.
Our obsession was Rogue. Everyone played it when they should have been working. The graphics were all keyboard characters, like letters of the alphabet or symbols like # and @.
Why were we playing with such rudimentary graphics? Because that’s all we had. That’s right, this was before people had access to graphical computers, especially at work where we were using something called “dumb terminals.” In the early 1980s most people didn’t even have a mouse on their computer! Rogue was keyboard-driven. You didn’t even need to use the arrow keys: H,J,K, and L moved your player around the maze.
We didn’t have real graphics till Steve Jobs and Apple came out with the first mass-marketed graphical computers in 1983 (the Lisa) and 1984 (the Macintosh. Remember the 1984 superbowl ad? It’s worth a look, even now).
But when we played with ASCII, the game was Rogue. The game was maddening and addictive. It put you on a treasure hunt and attacked your vulnerable little self-character with bats, snakes, kestrels (kestrels? yes, kestrels) and all manner of imaginary creatures. A bat looked like this: B. A snake looked like this: S. Treasure looked like this: $
And you, little you — you were an at sign, @, constantly running, dodging, picking up $ whenever you could.
Cruzio’s founders worked in a software company where we and fellow engineers often worked all night and all weekend. We took brain-vacations at our desks by playing rogue. Everyone in the office played it.
Rogue was hard, and after getting through tunnels and mazes and evading weird creatures you got attached to your simple virtual @ self. Yelps and cries were heard in the office when the end finally came to a game. Then, back to work.
Rogue was created by Michael C. Toy and Kenneth C.R.C. Arnold in 1983. By the way, the aptly named Toy is a Santa Cruz resident so it’s one of those great Santa Cruz contributions to the world of tech.
Want to play? You can play Rogue on a simulator here. Try it!