back to article Star Trek: The original computer game

Ah, the simple pleasures of the earliest computer games - and you don’t get much earlier than 1971. As Star Trek: Into Darkness warps onto UK cinema screens this weekend, we look back at not only the first attempt to bring the franchise to computer screens, but what was arguably one of the most popular, certainly the most …


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  1. Efros

    Rogue: Dungeons of Doom

    Similar sort of game. I played this on a TRS80, a z80 multiuser CP/M machine and a variety of other behemoths of their day. Full story here

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rogue: Dungeons of Doom

      Oh christ....

      After seeing that green image of the enterprise, I am having severe non LSD based flash blacks...

      Christ.... I am fucked... need to lie down.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rogue: Dungeons of Doom


  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Never played it but I got a flashback to "4K computing on passive LCDs" .... urrrrhhh!


    "Super Star Trek’s debut in Creative Computing - Click for larger image"

    The face when it's a .jpg, not .png

    It's difficult to decipher those characters, it has nothing to do with age.

    1. Toxteth O'Gravy

      Re: Never played it but I got a flashback to "4K computing on passive LCDs" .... urrrrhhh!

      Lets start a campaign to BRING BACK LINE NUMBERS

  3. RyokuMas

    The good old days of type-in listings...

    Gotos a gogo!

    ... and even now, more comprehensible than trying to implement proper class structures in javascript.

    1. Annihilator
      Thumb Up

      Re: The good old days of type-in listings...

      Even swankier, gosubs a go-go! The attempt by BASIC to reach the dizzy heights of procedural programming! Think my first stack overflow was caused by a mistakenly looped gosub!

      1. RyokuMas

        Re: The good old days of type-in listings...

        Brings back memories - my first games which were basically a "while" loop with a bunch of gosubs inside it...

        Still made me a few quid!

      2. Bod

        Re: The good old days of type-in listings...

        BBC BASIC ... DEF PROC

        No more gosubs, procedures were the future.

        But when it comes to type in listings, can't beat spending an hour typing in a listing on the ZX81 with 16k ram pack, only for the cat to come over, brush against the thing and the whole machine resets. In fact you just had to cough and it would do that.

      3. LordHighFixer
        Big Brother

        Re: The good old days of type-in listings...

        Just a little FYI. The gosubs listed in the printout are not from the original game ala Mike Mayfield. Those were added later as an afterthought to control usage. The subroutine they refer to checked your credentials, time online, and time of day to see if you were using this program during authorized hours. I still have a copy of the original on paper tape and a printout neatly folded in a binder somewhere.

    2. Nigel Barrett

      Re: The good old days of type-in listings...

      Why did nearly all magazine listings contain fatal errors in them? I remember many hours of fun trying to re-invent a missing line of code; "Your Computer" springs to mind as the worst offender. I even sent a short listing in myself once, got it published and, yes they managed to type it in wrong.

  4. Crisp

    No mention of Rescue for the Mac?

    One of the better Star Trek games IMHO

  5. Alan Bourke

    Probably still better

    than the recent one.

  6. 1Rafayal

    Different covers

    On the Dragon 32 the cover art was largely the same apart from the title, which was Dragon Trek - no idea why.

  7. deshepherd

    Remember this well from school days ... must have had the BASIC version on the school's Data General mini computer (someone had the Dave Ahl 101 Basic Games book and I certainly spent many hours either dictating or type these into a teletype!) but also remember when someone published a version that would run on our new fangled 6800 micro system in the electronics lab. This needed to be typed in as hex code to get it into the system and being a humungeously large program it wouldn't fit in the 1kB RAM on the processor eurocard so was a big rush to build a 4kB memort expansion eurocard to add to it!

    1. Simon Harris

      Hex code? - thee were lucky!

      When I was at school we had to enter the bootstrap loader for the PDP-8/e using the toggle switches on the front.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        When we were kids we had to deflect cosmic rays into the core store to knock electrons into different orbits to change bit states.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      2. BongoJoe

        "When I was at school we had to enter the bootstrap loader for the PDP-8/e using the toggle switches on the front."

        God, I remember doing this and trying to peer at the funny LEDs which were behind some semi-opaque plastic and trying to get it all going in in the right order. Great fun those days.

      3. deshepherd

        Hex code? - thee were lucky!

        When I was at school we had to enter the bootstrap loader for the PDP-8/e using the toggle switches on the front.

        Don't worry, been there, done that (was a time at school when I knew the DG Nova bootstrap code from memory). And on a few occasions reinstalled RDOS starting with bootstrap load on swicthes followed by binary loader followed by several dozen boxes of fanfold tape and a chance to practice the skill of catching the tape coming through the tape reader (immensely high speed of 300bytes/sec!) so it re-fan-folded itself.

  8. Andrew Moore
    Thumb Up

    TI99/4a version...

    I did a version for the TI99/4a; I think I had more fun writing the code rather than playing the game.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: TI99/4a version...

      "had more fun writing the code"

      Doesn't that sum up most of the software we write as developers? Especially in a work scenario!

  9. TeeCee Gold badge

    Listings printed in magazines.

    Ah yes. When I was at Poly, one of the better off lads had both a flat(!) and a new BBC model B(!!)

    We went round mob-handed, to find that he had no games for it. A mag provided a listing for Star Trek for the beeb, comprising quite a number of full pages of very small type, and much midnight oil was burned typing it in (one reading, one typing, shift change every thirty minutes). We started at about 8pm and finished (including debugging all the typos) as the sun came up.

    Played it a bit, lost interest when the pubs opened, so we asked for the cassette recorder to back it up. Yup, you got it, he didn't have one of those either.

    Never have I heard so much invective directed at one person by so many.

    1. Annihilator

      Re: Listings printed in magazines.

      Did he not have a scanner with some OCR software to scan the code listings? ;-)

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Listings printed in magazines.

        Back then these were called "secretaries" and they had amazing hair-dos!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Listings printed in magazines.

          And some has jugs!

          1. Rampant Spaniel

            Re: Listings printed in magazines.

            herh I just remembered hours spent wandering around Chips looking through stacks and stacks of tapes and being amazed at how much time it saved over typing in code. The Aliens game for the speccy 128k was great fun! It took nearly as long to load from tape as it would have done to type it and failed half the time, but how freaking far have we come lol!

  10. Shark? what shark?

    Now that's what I call nostalga!

    You haven't fully experienced the joy of Star Trek unless you've loaded the code from paper tape onto a venerable OS (MAXIMOP on the City of Birmingham treasury departmental mainframe) and then played on a teletype (with your own paper) in a converted school broom cupboard.

    Now I think about it, having a direct connection from a school to the council finance system seems slightly suspect nowadays. It was a more innocent time.

    1. rurwin
      Thumb Up

      Re: Now that's what I call nostalga!

      I remember it well, although MAXIMOP was the upgraded system and it ran on an ICL1906. The first was indeed a HP2000. The changeover would have been somewhere in the mid to late seventies.

      At least on a teletype you could look back at your last long-range scan and not have to do another -- because at ten characters a second, they took a significant time to produce.

      1. arwel

        Re: Now that's what I call nostalga!

        Oh gosh. I remember playing this on my schools' dial-up connection to the local colleges' ICL 1903T at lunchtimes in 1975. And as for the UEA computing centre annexe on Friday evenings in 1976-79 when everybody was using up their weekly allowance of computer time... the introduction of VDUs saved an enormous amount of paper and was a lot quieter. As I recall, the UEA version had added black holes to randomly transport the Enterprise around the universe, and Romulans who were more numerous but a bit easier to destroy than Klingons.

  11. M7S

    "ahem - copied quite illicitly using a dual-tape cassette recorder"

    Clearly you are the one responsible for the fact that the computer games industry died an ignominious death shortly thereafter and is but a distant memory to a few older readers.

    The RIAA, MPAA, BSA and others will no doubt want to hold you to account for the fact that they're all living in penury.


  12. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Oh wow, yes. I remember playing it on a Bleasdale at Polytechnic.

  13. Danny 14
    Thumb Up


    this effectively morphed into the wonder that was PSI-5 trading company. That was an epic space game that had "star trek" written all over it (without the associated licensing costs)

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. nigel 15

    I made the enterprise in ASCII

    ________________ _


    \ \ ',--,-.___.----'



    sadly it doesn't format properly here even with the 'pre' tag. but if you look here it's awesome :)

  16. Irongut


    I wrote a Spectrum version in BASIC using a custom font for sprites. I had the numbered commands but incorporated the named quadrants and animations for the torps and phasers. I also included 3 dificulty modes that changed the size of the galaxy. I gave it away to everyone at school, in some cases as a swap for a copy of another game.

  17. Tim Walker


    I have vague recollections of seeing a "Trek"-type game running on a schoolfriend's BBC Micro (the jammy goit) in the early-80s, but my main connection with this kind of game came a little later...

    At uni in 1993, I inherited my first PC: a wheezy old DOS-running XT clone with an EGA colour monitor (don't ask me how that worked on an XT), which could just about get out of bed to run WordPerfect 5.1 and a couple of EGA-capable games. One of which (via a shareware floppy) was "EGATrek" - a very playable colour "Trek" clone, which I wasted enough hours on in my final year, that I felt honour-bound to send its author the $10 or so registration fee (and pre-Web/Paypal, I can't remember how I managed that).

    Amazingly, you can still find EGATrek quite easily if you search around - I've got it loaded into DOSBox on my Arch Linux-running Eee 701 netbook, and I even fire it up every now and then for a ten-minute blast around the quadrant. Even began writing a "definitive guide" in my spare moments, until I realised I didn't have any...

    Still hopeless at command levels 4 and 5, though. It's the "Mongol"'s plasma bolts.

    1. Simon Harris

      Re: EGATrek

      "a wheezy old DOS-running XT clone with an EGA colour monitor (don't ask me how that worked on an XT)"

      A lot of EGA cards had an 8-bit interface that would work in an XT.

  18. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up

    I remember...

    ... playing this on an 8k Commodore Pet!

    1. Dr_N
      Thumb Up

      Re: I remember...

      There was a very natty "animated" phaser firing Enterprise splash screen on the PET version, IIRC.

      1. Graham Marsden

        Re: I remember...

        I don't recall animated phasers, but when you fired a photon torpedo a little blob did run across the screen and hit the Klingon with an asterisk shaped explosion :-)

  19. JDX Gold badge

    Something's wrong...

    Nobody has made some vicious attack on the new film yet.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Something's wrong...

      There is a new film?

      Well, I hope Mr. Plinkett has not yet died in his wheelchair and will say something about that.

  20. andy gibson

    or mentioned

    Lens flare

  21. MacroRodent


    I ported a version to my Oric-1 around 1983, from a listing printed from a Honeywell mainframe at a computing center where I had a summer job. Spent dozens of nights of typing and then debugging it, and finally made it update the display in place, instead of scrolling like my source version did (it was written for paper terminals). Also had to add some Oric BASIC curiosities like "PULL" just before the code jumped out of a FOR loop, otherwise its BASIC interpreter ran out of stack... Educational.

    Before I did the porting, I had seen Apple Trek at my school, which two years earlier obtained an Apple II as their first computer. Part of my motivation was trying to recreate the game for the Oric. But not the same version shown in the article. In the one I saw, the opponents were "Klarnons", not Klingons, no doubt for trademark reasons.

    1. RyokuMas

      Re: Oric-1

      Nowadays, would the be "Droidons" or "WinPhons"?

  22. TheOtherHobbes


    dominated the attention of comp sci and electronics undergrads at a certain northern uni for a couple of weeks in the early 80s.

    Cursor animations on a terminal driven by a DEC mainframe at 2400 baud - although you could piss everyone off by flicking the DIP switches at the back and turbo-ing your speed to 4800 baud, giving you an unfair advantage until the terminal controller crashed.

    I have an old-fashioned paper photo of a terminal room with wall to wall Star Trek somewhere in the paper filing blob.

    Then someone discovered that hacking the embryonic Internet was more fun...

  23. Chad H.

    And just think...

    If you were to make and diatribute your own game based on a popular sci do TV series without permission today, you'd be sued into the Stone Age.

    Its progress Jim, but not as we know it.

    1. Steven Roper

      Re: And just think...

      Actually Paramount have been fairly open with fan-created content relating to Star Trek. As long as you don't sell it or do pornographic or offensive shit with it, they've been quite supportive of their fan base. If the fans put in enough effort, the Star Trek mob even get behind them on their independent projects - just look at The New Voyages and Phase II, both fan-made amateur spinoffs which ended up getting the backing of George Takei and Walter Koenig among other Star Trek notables. And there's the thousands of fansites and tons of fanart and fanfic out there that Paramount has always encouraged and never had a problem with.

      Now if Star Trek was owned by Disney on the other hand...

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: And just think...

        I distinctly remember nastygrams flying back in the 90's about the non-permitted use of "Star Trek" on the Internets, and fans wailing and gnashing their teeths...

  24. Titus Aduxass

    Basic computer games, the book

    I still have my copy of the first edition of David Ahl's book. It's how I learned to program back in the 70s. Which probably accounts for my er... peculiar coding style to this day :-)

    1. Simon Harris

      Re: Basic computer games, the book

      That reminds me...

      I really should return that copy of 'More Basic Computer Games' to the school computer room library...

      ... it's only 33 years overdue!

  25. CowardlyLion

    And still included in modern distros. Here on Fedora 17 for example install the "bsd-games" package and type 'trek'.

    1. Tim Walker

      Arch too...

      There's a bsd-games package in the Arch Linux "community" repo:

      One "sudo pacman -S bsd-games" later, and I'll be back in the 70s... thanks for the "head-up"!

  26. aui

    Perkin Elmer 3500 Trek

    In 1981/2 we had a 6800-based Perkin Elmer 3500 datastation with hi-res monochorome graphics card at work. It came with several 'unofficial' games, one of which was Star Trek.

    The disappointing thing about the game was the number of times the ship broke down, so I tinkered with the program to make the ship start with a realisitc health level of 1 (and no more) per system instead of a borderline flaky 0.

    For some reason, whoever wrote our version decided that the ship's weapons, warp drive, etc, were continuously repaired, even beyond 100% functionality. However, their starting level of 0 meant that the random fault generator could render the game 'over' after your first warp into Klingon territory.

  27. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Old BASIC games

    1) Download RiscOS image for the Raspberry Pi (with BBC BASIC)

    2) Type* in a whole lot of game listings harvested from game magazines of yesteryear

    3) Post image of legacy game machine online

    4) ...

    5) Profit.

    *By type I mean pay someone else, children for example, to type or perhaps debug the OCR output.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    From a time...

    Where people still could use a bit of their own fantasy and imagination.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    I remember the Altair version. My dad must have typed that one as a keyboard validation test. I can also remember playing it under GCOS on a Honeywell DPS-8/47.

    Aaah, memories.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Intel MDS-80 version

    Blimey, this brought back memories.

    In my first real job after graduating, I remember playing this on Intel MDS-80 development systems. I'm not sure if anyone remembers these, but they were hideously expensive (but rather useful) workstations, targeted for embedded development on Intel 8080 family chips.

    I can still hear the "chunka-chunka" sound of the enormous 8-inch floppy drive loading up the game.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Intel MDS-80 version

      I also remember playing this on the old Intel MDS-80. Between games, I used it to write PL/M and Assembler code for the old single chip 8048s (1k of EEPROM, IIRC). I then used to single step the programs using 'In-circuit emulators'. A great time was had ....

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is why I still read this website

    Every time I'm about to remove The Register from my RSS as being just a bunch of tabloid crap / climate denying nutjobs / arrogant self congratulatory **kers, they publish an article like this to keep me as a reader. Well done!

    1. JonnyBravo

      Re: This is why I still read this website


      I don't think anyone doubts the climate exists..

  32. big_D Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    I worked for an oil exploration company in 1980 as a summer job, whilst still at school. They had the Fortran version on the VMS 11/780 machines. That and the IM "phone" utility are what got into computing. There is nothing new in this world. ;-)

    I played dungeon on CP/M and Apple, when I worked as a computer repairman after school in '82.

    I download the BSD games on Linux as one of the first packages after a new install...

  33. Spotfist


    numberical miscaculating, RALLY???

  34. buggane


    That took me back. The ZX81 release was by Silversoft, I think.

  35. Kubla Cant

    The original computer game?

    Not even near. When I read that part of the ancestry of Star Trek was a game called Space Wars, it reminded me that I'd read about an earlier game with a similar name. It seems that Spacewar! is no relation to Star Trek, but it's much, much earlier.

    According to a "reliable source", Spacewar! was written in 1962, on a PDP-1 (I never knew there was such a computer, though it makes sense that DEC didn't start from number 8. Were there ever PDPs 2-7?)

    While I'm writing, is "numberical" a word you made up?

  36. Kimo

    I played this on the Portland Public Schools mainframe in the early 80s. I recall it used a lot of paper.

  37. gannett

    And the spin-offs ..

    Blake's 7 anyone ? o-= becomes *-= with a few other string substitutions your in any universe you choose. Such were the blessing of src code distros. I have a terminal session stuck in a "Twisty maze of passages all alike" here on OSX, hints anyone ?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: And the spin-offs ..

      Shit - I wonder just how much we will all remember, after we are all dead and gone, a million or even a billion or perhaps even a trillion years from now?

      1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        Re: And the spin-offs ..

        " I have a terminal session stuck in a "Twisty maze of passages all alike" here on OSX, hints anyone ? "

        Sounds like you're trying to debug a medium-sized Java application that has a delegate chain longer and more convoluted than the European Commission.

        Control-C and re-write it in Intercal - it'll be quicker in the long run.

    2. Chris 3

      Re: And the spin-offs ..


    3. BongoJoe

      Re: And the spin-offs ..

      I have a terminal session stuck in a "Twisty maze of passages all alike" here on OSX, hints anyone ?

      It took me months to realise that each of the wordings of the twisty passages were slghtly different depending on which node you were in in the maze.

      Dungeon/Colossal Cave was sadly responsible for the obligitory maze in eveyr adventure game; even Myst. Grrr!!

  38. TeaLeaf

    Just Played a Quick Game ...

    On an IBM mainframe under VM/CMS using a version created in 1975. I have 4 slightly different versions on this (obviously work) machine. I believe these are written in IBM/370 assembler. Downloadable (with other VM/CMS games) from

  39. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    Dumb Merican Question

    Quick question - Tony twice used the word "numberic" or "numberical" in this article. Is that a British thing (like "colour" instead of "color") or a simple typo?

    I'm not trying to be snarky, just wondering if I accidently learned something cultural today.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dumb Merican Question

      I'll put money on you not being dumb, and that both are typos.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Dumb Merican Question

      It's a common typo. The correct word is "numeric", but your fingers think "number" and helpfully insert the extra 'b' for you, which you then can't remove 'cos there's no edit function here.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not sure if it was the exact same

    But in my case, the Star Trek game was as on a terminal inside a major insurance company's head office (my mother's place of employment) while waiting for a lift home from school.

    A year or so back, while discussing programming on early computers, my friend uncovered from his stash a book (whose name escapes me) on programming a Star Trek like space combat simulation (it went as close as it could without mentioning that TV series). Lot on the meta-programming of the simulation; it made the Star Fleet Battles board game look like a highly abstracted system.

  41. Madeye

    Wandering off topic

    Hah! That is the game I first played and loved in 1981 on a TRS-80 Model 1 (the one with the 32k RAM expansion you could beat someone to death with). I have often credited this game (and hacking it's internals) with setting me on course for a stellar career in software development. More lately I've been cursing it's name for setting me on course for a unrewarding two and a half decades listening to idiots explain why doing a slovenly, half-assed job is in whichever business' best interests at the time

    That icon is a pint of bitter, right?

  42. Rob Crawford


    My first experience of a computer was playing this on a Sharp MZ80K in late 81 which one of our lecturers owned. Over the years I tried many other versions but always compared them (poorly) to that articular one

    It had truly annoying music and we where told that it could not be removed as the program was written in machine code.

    Needless to say after being told that it couldn't be done, sparked my interest in taking other peoples code apart, though sadly this was not one of the targets (as it took me over a year to get my first machine.)

    Possibly I should hunt out a sharp emulator and finish the job.

  43. Endymion
    Thumb Up

    Forget that Star trek nonsense...

    Star Raiders on the Atari 400/800 was the thing to have - I remember being quite blown away at the time (1980?). Amazng execution of the Star Wars gameplay, with a sort of 3d-ish cockpit view allowing you to blast the baddies in person. There was a cool star field effect, and a Star Wars-esque hyperspace effect as you moved from sector to sector on the Galactic Map.

    Awesome stuff at the time.

    1. Madeye

      Re: Forget that Star trek nonsense...

      Star Raiders was a decent commercial stab at making an all-action version of the Star Trek game but was very different in character. You had photon torpedos but not phasers and generally you knew exactly where the klingons were. Consequently It lacked the tension and strategy of the original in favour of greater accessibility to the arcade generation. Still, it gave me a real thrill the first time I made Star Commander Class 1

  44. Endymion

    Re: Tension and strategy

    No doubt waiting for a screen repaint over a 300baud modem or a teleprinter also heightened the apprehension/tension too!. When I used to play MUD on Essex Uni's DEC-10, us poor external users always hated Internal users running at 9600baud!.



  45. Mike Sallman

    I am so old

    I (vaguely) remember playing a version in high school via modem and acoustic coupler to the mainframe at the local university and printed out on a line printer.

    Now get off my lawn!

    Beer... do I need a reason?

  46. Stevie


    I played this at UEA on a 1903 running GEORGE-3 using one of three Tectronix VDUs (the computer centre was mainly Teletypes in those days).

    In that environment the Job Description steering lines had been set up so that when you hit BREAK IN to drop out of the game the wretched program would intercept the command and declare ANTIMATTER PODS EXPLODE DUE TO BREAK IN - CONDITION PURPLE, locking you in for the duration. (SWON BITS BREA as I recall, but it has been 36 years).

    A plan formed.

    Everyone had a limited budget for online computer use, but should the mainframe be taken down while you were "working" your budget for the session would not be tallied, presumably because you had lost the work you were doing.


    Start game late at night after work finished, kill all enemies, press BREAK IN and let game idle itself into the maintenance window.

    Worked like a charm.

  47. Charles E

    Almost my first computer game

    I remember playing this on an early HP-3000 at my university when I was just a little kid, it must have been around 1973. I was pleased to see it was available on the Processor Tech SOL-20 computer I built from a kit in 1975. It was known as TREK-80, since it was ported to assembly language on the Intel 8080A processor. I remember being quite pleased to read in the manual that you could put a radio next to the computer, tune it to an empty channel, and the radio interference from the CPU would be picked up to make phaser sounds.

    Here's a scan of the old TREK-80 manual, with a screen cap (a photo of the CRT screen).

    But I'm sure that wasn't the first computer game I ever played. I recall playing MoonWar on the PLATO IV system, long before the university got their HP-3000.

  48. TheOldBear

    Still have the source code for this around [ASR-33 paper tape] from a vintage 1972 port to DEC TOPS-10. Printing out a full galaxy map took a while

    And I recall a version of the game ported to the HP 67/97 calculators [on six program cards, plus a data card]

  49. The Grump


    You are in the lobby of Starbase 314.


    You are facing a door In the Starbase lobby. It has warning signs in Romulin - keep out.


    You are in a darkened room. You may be eaten by a grue.


    You hear footsteps approaching. You hear a horrible gurgling sound.


  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Matuszek and Reynolds version was better.

  51. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Steven Roper

      Re: Such is my blind hatred for everything TREK...

      And nothing of value was lost. Don't let the door hit you on your way out.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Simon Harris

          Re: Such is my blind hatred for everything TREK...

          I guess you didn't work out how to configure your hosts file to ignore The Register as promised in your first post.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Signed overflow

    On the Apple, you could exploit 16 bit signed overflow: convert energy into photon torpedoes - make enough torpedoes, and the energy it cost to do so overflowed from 32767 to -32786 (or more/less), and you got positive energy and positive torpedoes.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm surprised nobody's made a Javascript version for a browser

    I'm surprised nobody's made a Javascript version for a browser.

    (he said, waiting/hoping to be provided with a URL....)

    1. Geoff May

      Re: I'm surprised nobody's made a Javascript version for a browser

      Google is your friend...

  54. JohnG

    I played trek in 1976 via a teletype on an IBM system at Exeter University's computer science department. The only bit I can remember now is where the game would suddenly announce "Yeoman Rand has spilled coffee on the command console" and dump you somewhere new. It may sound crap now but it was way better than "lunar lander" on a teletype.

  55. ecofeco Silver badge

    Dammit Jim!

    Fascinating. I forgot all about this game.

  56. Irony Deficient

    Anoraks ahoy!

    Yup, this game was essentially my introduction to computing. My high school had two Teletypes and one CRT which were acoustically connected to the neighboring town’s high school’s HP 2000; it was much easier to get time on one of the Teletypes, since the CRT was practically the private reserve of the head of the computer club. In my case, the game (in HP BASIC) was called UFO, and it had the retreatable Klingons. I’m fairly sure that I’ve still got a paper tape listing of this game up in my attic. … Misty water-colored memories …

  57. Brett Weaver

    IBM System /34 Anyone?

    1981 on a System /34.. Used to print out a certificate when you finished.. Something like .. "Congratulations Captain Kirk you have killed <Random Number> of Klingons with an efficiency rating of NN."

    Unless you were killed - when the certificate was quite abusive as I remember.

    The competition to get your efficiency rating high was immense..

  58. johnwerneken
    Thumb Up

    we had something similar in 1966

    On IBM 360-70, with starships, planets, gravity, missdle trajectories accurately displayed (as moving points of light / not much in the way of the now-obligatory graphics). We called it Space War.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Like most games of the period it was fun to play once or twice, but it lacked staying power."

    Startrek on big ICL VME-B 29xx mainframes' terminals was popular with people working long hours on big projects in the 1970/80s. It provided a welcome mental diversion during break periods. The other two favourite games were "Zork" and "Moon Lander".

  60. Dick Head

    Played it on a Univac 1110 4x4 computer sometime after 1972.

    It was in Fortran. I spent many man-hours of work time turning it into a bootable Uniservo 16 tape so you could play it from the Uniscope 100 console while I was on nights.

    I claim the biggest misuse of company money to implement Startrek. The official monthly rental for this configuration was over $200,000 per month.

  61. Jim McCafferty

    Basic Fail

    I remember spending hours typing basic programs into my spectrum - just to see them fail horribly. Then one day I discovered the colon key - and realised it reset the cursor back to "K", allowing you to enter multiple commands on a single line. Hey ho.

  62. Mr. Peterson

    1980 Atari 2600 Sears Exclusive

    clocked more time on this 8 bit gem than on all the video games collected since that time - due to the 8 x 8 sector layout, as infinitely re-playable as Chess

    "It'll never die, JIm!"

  63. rurwin

    Ship's Computer

    I just remembered we wrote a scriptable on-board computer for this game. You could program it to fly to the next sector, fire phasers until there weren't any more klingons, and then fly on. IIRC, it could play the entire game by itself... if you programmed it right.

  64. Lukin Brewer

    C+VG Magazine published a version of that...

    ...back when they still did listings and hadn't abbreviated their title. Issue 5, March 1982, to be exact. This version was credited to one Lance Micklus, ran on a TRS-80 in 24kB (or 16kB if you left out the REM lines and disk I/O routines), and featured not only Klingon-killing but also exploration and planet surveying. 494 lines of BASIC. In fact, since the whole issue (and many more besides) is available on, here is the URL:

    1. Simon Harris

      Re: C+VG Magazine published a version of that...

      Upvoted for happy memories of the old days - there are a few reviews of mine in the early C+VG issues and the listing of a skiing slalom game I wrote for the Atom somewhere in that archive.

  65. deMangler
    Thumb Up


    First computer game I ever played. On a TRS-80. One of mum's boyfriends, for reasons unknown to me at the time but quite clear now, was very keen for me to disappear off and play this game for hours.

    I also fondly remember the 308-z and 480-z but can't recall every playing Star-Trek on them.

    Good memories anyway. Probably one of the main reasons I really got into computers at an early age.

  66. TheOtherMe

    Too big to run

    I remember coming across the code in a computer magazine and laboriously typing it all in only to find 8K was insufficient memory to store it and execute it. Had to do some modifying to reduce the size so there was enough memory left to allow execution - Aahh the joyful teenage days in front of a monochrome display, tape drive & keyboard built in - all hooked into a primitive processor with less capacity or capability than today's digital watches...

  67. GENGHIS7777

    You forgot the Newton version!

    Check it out:

  68. OrientalHero

    Modern Update - multiplayer!

    Artemis is an updated version per se. Each player with their own PC is assigned a station from Science officer to Engineering to Weapons and Comms. Yes there is a Captain's station too. But they don't actually have anything to do!

    I managed to get a bunch of friends together to play this and it played out like the game scenarios people have been describing!

  69. edmanet
    Thumb Up

    In case anyone is interested in compiling the C version for Linux, I slightly modified Chris Nystrom's C version of the original so that it would compile with gcc

  70. DrFed

    The first multiplayer Startrek game - "Trek 7" on VMS circa 1979

    I believe the first multiplayer (turn based) trek game was called 'trek 7' - it was written in fortran for VMS by a student at the university of western ontario named Donald Ecclestone." - it was a fun game that could support multplayer games of up to 4 players (2 federation and 2 klingon). You could also play against computer generated enemies whose behaviour was based on that of their respective star trek episodes (i.e. gorn, orions). You could even fight moonbase alpha for fun!

    it was pretty complex for a mainframe game in '79. You could lay mines, board ships, transfer power from engines to phasers and such. Incredibly engaging (especially for a little kid growing up in the department).

    It was ported to run on open vms and linux on sourceforge. Check it out!

  71. oilyfishhead

    High School

    I played it on an HP3000F, time shared BASIC, circa 1973. Output device was a teletype. We didn't have any of them new fangled CRT screens. Quite an addicting game, though.

    /Now get off my lawn

  72. Robert Baker

    I wonder if it's just me...

    ...but to my eyes, that cassette inlay looks as if somebody is standing behind Kirk, bopping him in the back of the head with wadded-up balls of paper!

  73. Bernard M. Orwell

    Good Heavens....

    ... an RML380-Z and then a TRS-80?

    That's where I began, so many years ago; memories are evoked of typing in hours of code copied from from C&VG magazine.

    CP/M always was better than MS-DOS.

  74. Dramoth
    Thumb Up

    And this is why

    I got into programming in the first place

    1979 in Perth... a bored school kid decides to book some time on the schools computer (read a vt50 dumb term with a 300 baud modem connect to the mainframe at Murdoch University) to play games. Being a bit of a trekkie even back then he picks the StarTrek game... and now 34 years later... I am a programmer.

    Thinking back nostalgically... it's simple things like that that really influence people.

    I went on to learn programming in basic (on cards) at my next high school and used to wander into Tandy Electronics stores and asked the salesmen if I could use the computer to program (I think that I sold more computers for Tandy than the actual salesmen did) saving my code onto the tape drives they used back then.

  75. Anonymous Coward


    "Like most games of the period it was fun to play once or twice, but it lacked staying power. "

    What exactly do you mean when you say "of the period"???

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great memories

    This article brings back some great memories about how I got hooked on computers. I was a high school senior in 72-73 and used to go out to a University's computer center, with some other young nerd friends. I thought submitting FORTRAN programs on punched cards was cool, but then one of the students let us play Star Trek on an Teletype KSR-33, connected to the University's CDC 6400. I was fascinated by the fact that you could create something that would interact in real-time with people. The next year when I was enrolled at the University, I drained the account for my first computing class playing this Star Trek game. I enjoyed playing Star Trek, but what I really wanted to know was how the game worked. Many thanks for this article.

  77. SBU

    Back in the nineteen seventies...

    The computer club at the school I went to had a Star Ttrek program running on a Wang 2200B written in BASIC running in real time. It was great. If you didn't move eventually all the klingons and Romulens would eneter your sector and attack you. Not a bad inteface for a 80 by 25 Character B/W screen. The machine had 8K of RAM and a 32K ROM based basic interpreter, twin tape drives and a card reader. Nice keyboard though, with smart function keys.

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