The ISA-Bus

One blog to bind them all.

The old Star Trek mainframe game

I have now two Windows implementations of this old game on Download Central (WinTrek and Stellar Explorer) and have started researching its history a bit. It turns out to be rather complex, and the various accounts often contradict each other at least in the details. Here is one from David Ahl’s 1978 book BASIC Computer Games, where it was included as Super Star Trek:

Many versions of Star Trek have been kicking around various college campuses since the late sixties. I recall playing on at Carnegie-Mellon Univ. In 1967 or 68, and a very different one at Berkeley. However, these were a far cry from the one written by Mike Mayfield of Centerline Engineering and/or Custom Data. This was written for an HP2000C and completed in October 1972. It became the standard Star Trek in February 1973 when it was put in the HP contributed program library onto a number of HP Data Center machines.

In the summer of 1973, I converted the HP version to BASIC-PLUS for DEC’s RSTS-11 compiler and added a few bits and pieces while I was at it. Mary Cole at DEC contributed enormously to this task too. Later that year I published it under the name SPACWR (Space War—in retrospect, an incorrect name) in my book 101 BASIC Computer Games. It is difficult today to find a computer installation that does not have one of these versions of Start Trek available.

The next one is from the readme of a 2002 (according to the time stamps on the files) Windows version of Super Star Trek with the credits by David Matuszek and Paul Reynolds, with Modifications by Don Smith, Resurrected by Tom Almy. Most likely the author of these lines is Don Smith, since the account is found under the header modifications:

Back in (about) 1977 I got a copy of this Super Star Trek game for the CDC 6600 mainframe computer. Someone had converted it to PDP-11 Fortran but couldn’t get it to run because of its size. I modified the program to use overlays and managed to shoehorn it in on the 56k byte machine.

I liked the game so much I put some time into fixing bugs, mainly what could be called continuity errors and loopholes in the game’s logic. We even played a couple tournaments.

In 1979, I lost access to that PDP-11. I did save the source code listing. In 1995, missing that old friend, I started converting the program into portable ANSI C. It’s been slow, tedious work that took over a year to accomplish.

In early 1997, I got the bright idea to look for references to Super Star Trek on the World Wide Web. There weren’t many hits, but there was one that came up with 1979 Fortran sources! This version had a few additional features that mine didn’t have, however mine had some feature it didn’t have. So I merged its features that I liked. I also took a peek at the DECUS version (a port, less sources, to the PDP-10), and some other variations.


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