Is Oregon Trail a text-game?

Continuing the discussion from 50 Years of Text Games: From Oregon Trail to AI Dungeon by Aaron A. Reed:

Is Oregon Trail originally a text game? Because the version that I played is with graphics and iirc not text-controlled.


From my recollection it had graphics, but they were just indicative of what was happening in the story. The game I always played alongside this was Lemonade Stand which also had graphics but was a marketing sim. Oregon Trail is about stats and resource management. One might actually compare Oregon Trail with 80 Days which is a choice narrative but uses graphics to indicate progression almost like a board game.



I played Oregon Trail many years ago. Maybe even 15 to 20 years ago. I remember that you made decisions in an eastern city and then had a long treck through the plains with random events and nearly no control over what was happening. There were diseases and attacks and wheel breakings. I don’t think the player’s decisions were entered text-based. But my memory is a bit pale on that. The review or summary of that book gives the impression that Oregon Trail was released 1971. But I’m pretty sure my version was from the 1980s or early 1990s.

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IIRC, you were typically given a numbered list of choices and you’d pick one by typing the number into the parser and hitting enter, but I could be misremembering.


Oregon Trail started as a text-only game in 1971 written in BASIC on an HP2100 minicomputer accessed with a teleprinter. The source code was printed in the May/June 1978 issue of Creative Computing ( That version was found on Apple II computers in schools all over the US until the graphical one showed up in 1985.

See also for something ready to go on an emulator or a real Apple II.


Here’s Aaron Reed’s original article: 1971: The Oregon Trail - by Aaron A. Reed



I remember being able to hunt animals in an arcade sequence in that version. I also remember missing a lot.


I think the only things that were not text based were the hunting and the river rafting, so it’s a semi-text game I guess, but it could be remade in if for mat, albeit with a few things missing.

Edit: Actually that was probably a later version with graphics added.


The very first thing I ever did on a computer was play a game called OREGON on an Apple II+ at my elementary school, circa 1981. It was on MECC’s Elementary Disk 6, and was clearly an intermediate version between the text-only game and the later graphics-rich one all the Millennials are nostalgic for. There were only two graphical elements: a map that showed your location on the Oregon Trail, and the “shooting” screen, used for hunting or defending against attackers.


I confirm the origins as text-only game in BASIC, as described by David and Aaron.

oregon trailgot more or less the same treatment of other late 1970s-early 80s games, receiving graphics and improved graphics.

nihil novi sub sole, if we think about the HD remasters of many 1990s/early 2000 PC/console games…

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.