When you think of text adventure games (or interactive fiction as it is sometimes referred to), you probably think of Zork. However, Zork was not the first text adventure to show up on home computers. That distinction goes to Adventureland which was also Scott Adams first text adventure. It was originally released in 1978. It’s true that Zork appeared the previous year but it was originally only available on mainframes. Adventureland beat it ever so slightly to the home computer market.
Adventureland was a new type of game for most people at the time of its release. Most people had not yet heard of Zork. While pretty primitive, even for text adventures, it was one of a kind at the time and got very positive reviews for the most part. Adventureland accepted one word commands (e.g. North would move you North) or two word combinations (e.g. light lamp). It recognized about 120 words. The ultimate goal of the game was to collect thirteen treasures.
Scott Adams and the company Adventure International which he co-founded went on to produce many more text adventures. While these haven’t seen any modern re-releases, similar to the Infocom games there are more modern interpreters, including a Java interpreter, that will allow you to play these games on modern machines with the appropriate data files. And as always, you can always emulate your favorite vintage platform.
The screen-shot and box art above are from the VIC-20 version of Adventureland.