Type in Classic Computer Games

Dig up old classic magazines to find programs you can type in.

The type-in listing was a mainstay of specialist computer and gaming publications from the early to mid ’80s. Its popularity was due to three factors: they were cheap to buy (the cost of a magazine with ten type-ins was a fraction of the price of a commercial title), they filled up space in a magazine really easily (editors could pad out half their pages with these listings, which were bought cheaply off aspiring programmers), and the inclusion of some form of BASIC on every home micro computer let everyone try their hand at being a game creator.

A type-in listing typically took the form of page after page of BASIC commands, each one on a separately numbered line. Since most versions of BASIC were the same across all formats, with some tweaking you could get (for example) Sinclair Spectrum type-ins working on a Commodore 64. Since the point of BASIC was that most commands were written in English, it was easy to see what the game was going to be like as you were typing it. Text adventures tended to spoil themselves the worst—by the time you start the game for the first time, you’ve already read the ending.

Type-in programs, like games of today, covered nearly every genre popular in the day: arcade clones, text adventures, sports simulations, maze explorations, and platforming quests. They were often crude, slow and full of bugs, but being able to type them in yourself and see the end result ...

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