This handful of paper is all that remains of an epic text adventure game I wrote in the summer of 1984 in BASIC on an Atari 800 with the 64K memory expansion cartridge. It had two features I was especially proud of: a parser that could understand phrases up to six words, and the ability to save and restore your progress in-game to an external floppy drive. It also barely ran, because the program itself chewed up so much memory.
So much of what I did with that old computer is long gone now, because I didn’t have the foresight to save any of those floppies. Also now missing along with that text adventure: “Lunar Lander,” a sorta-kinda game where you pilot a landing module to the surface of the moon, and an unnamed Robotron-style game, featuring you as an elf shooting arrows as enemy creatures came at you from all directions (including through the walls, as I hadn’t learned how to manage those types of collisions). Plus dozens of experiments and tutorials I had meticulously typed line-by-line from issues of COMPUTE!
Those floppies were either thrown out or sold along with the 800 when I went to college and lost interest in programming for ten years. I was hoping they’d be stashed in a shoebox somewhere, ready to be rescued and archived permanently in the cloud. No luck.
Young programmers! Save your work, no matter how mundane it seems at the moment. Throw it up on Github or Dropbox or Amazon S3, put it somewhere safe where it’s unlikely to be lost. I guarantee in twenty years you’ll want to see how far you and the world have come. You’ll want to remember the feel of those summer days in 1984, the chirping of the keyboard, the anticipation of typing RUN after a few blurry hours. Or whatever your equivalent experience would be these days.