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 Silver badge

    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 Silver badge

        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 Silver badge

    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 Silver badge

      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 Silver badge
    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. boltar Silver badge

      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 Silver badge
    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 Silver badge

      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 Silver badge
      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 Silver badge


    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 Silver badge

      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...


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