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History of MECC and Oregon Trail 149

Gammu writes "For the past thirty years, many children have been raised with a heavy diet of MECC games like Oregon Trail, Odell Lake and Lemonade Stand. These products weren't developed by a major game developer. Rather, they were developed by the state of Minnesota for use in their schools. What began as an initiative to get Minnesota students ready for the micro-computer age turned into a multi-million dollar a year business whose products are still used in US schools even a decade after MECC was sold off to another developer."
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History of MECC and Oregon Trail

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  • by toleraen ( 831634 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @08:38AM (#19476399)
    Was I the only one dorky enough to receive both the "Number Munchers King" and "Oregon Trail King" awards in front of the entire elementary school at the end of the year?
    • I miss Number Munchers so much. Smartie Troggles were the best.
      • I had the most insanely high scores at Number & Word Munchers. I so totally miss those games. We should start an open source project to recreate them in all their 8-bit glory =)
    • Alas, I was also a victim of the evil communist menace that is... SOCIALIZED GAMING. *insert scary 1950s music here*
  • by HaymarketRiot ( 931189 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @08:38AM (#19476401)
    Man, I miss shooting the hell out of all those bison. The shooting sections of that game really brought out a kill everything that moves mentality. Half the time I wouldn't even need food, but just wanted to shoot things.
    • While that was fun, it was interesting that no matter how many critters you killed, your guy could only carry (IIRC) 200 pounds of it back to the wagon. Keeping this in mind when hunting would actually help your game in the long run, when you would have to economize on bullets and time.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        (IIRC) 200 pounds
        I recall 100 lbs and this was done to show how very wasteful settlers could be. You killed a 1400 lb bison for a sandwich.


        The game was intended to teach but many people were lost on this part in my opinion ...
      • But at least you got a choice cut of meat.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yeah I remember some of the kids would always ask me how I managed to finish the game, My response was always "I didn't waste all my money on bullets.
      • you got Cholera and died

        I hated seeing that.
        • by Broken scope ( 973885 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:01AM (#19477163) Homepage
          [save game]
          River depth 3 feet
          1: Ford the River?
          2: Seal boat and cross the river?
          3: Wait?
          Ford the River!!

          Your wagon turned over
          You lost 3 Oxen
          You lost 1200lbs of food
          You lost 500 bullets
          You broke a wheel
          You broke an axle
          You broke a yoke
          Your wagon caught fire and exploded
          Max drowned and died... we never found the body
          Johnny died in the wagon fire
          Betty was crushed by the panicking ox
          Bill drowned
          Jeff caught Cholera and died in under 30 seconds, a new record!
          Jeff came back as a Zombie and killed everyone else, game over. .. wtf?

          [load saved game]
          river is 3 ft deep
          1: Ford the River?
          2: Seal boat and cross the river?
          3: Wait?

          river is 7 ft deep
          1: Ford the River?
          2: Seal boat and cross the river?
          3: Wait?
          seal boat and cross river ... ......
          The wagon sank, everyone DIED...
          Mother Fucker..

          [load save game]

          river is 3ft deep
          1: Ford the River?
          2: Seal boat and cross the river?
          3: Wait?

          The river is 19 feet deep, is flooding, full of debris, on fire, and has piranhas in it.
          1: Ford the River?
          2: Seal boat and cross the river?
          3: Wait? ... you ford the river.

          Everyone makes it across safely.

          • by Daetrin ( 576516 )
            2: Seal boat and cross the river?

            I believe the phrase you are looking for is "caulk the wagon."

            I've been told that a year or two after i graduated my dorm set up a computer with a lot of emulated games on it in the lounge, including Oregon Trail. Every time someone was playing the game and encountered a river everyone in the room would shout out that they should "caulk the wagon." :)

    • by daeg ( 828071 )
      Except those damn squirrels. Those things sucked!
    • by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:08AM (#19476647) Journal
      At my middle school, our computer lab instructor went totally postal whenever he'd see a student do that. "Oh my god! You MONSTER! That is just sick! That is sick! You are exterminating the buffalo! You can't possibly use all that meat, it's just going to rot!" (If you didn't already know, that's correct. As others pointed out, you can only bring back 200 lb, I think 100 lb in some versions.)

      And no, he wasn't being sarcastic or anything, he really seemed to have an emotional attachment to electronic buffalo, and punished students who slaughtered them.
      • At least he didn't preach about eating everything on your plate and then go on a rant about people starving in some other country as if "what you didn't eat" would make a difference to them and in turn end up creating a nation of obese people.
    • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:27AM (#19476817)
      The shooting sections of that game really brought out a kill everything that moves mentality. Half the time I wouldn't even need food, but just wanted to shoot things.

      Paging Jack Thompson...Paging Jack Thompson...
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @08:39AM (#19476411) Journal
    Having grown up in Minnesota, I was raised in a grade school that had many copies of the Oregon Trail.

    But something that isn't often mentioned about the Oregon Trail is the controversy that surrounded one of the first releases about it. We're all very familiar with the original but before that there was an even older one with crappier graphics. I distinctly remember playing the very old one only to have the teacher come up to my computer, ask me where I got that & then she took the disc and formatted it. Now that was curious behavior for a teacher.

    So I came into the lab after school, got another copy of the disk from where I had found the original (stacks of old disks were common) and popped it in. The graphics were worse but I soon realized why this particular version was frowned upon. Instead of saying, "You have encountered Native Americans ..." or something like that, it said "Indians Attack!" and then you were holding a shotgun from the point of view of the shooter. There were three frames of images with a Native American on horseback and a bow. He would ride at a random speed in front of you and you had to shoot when he was in the middle of the screen. The better you did, the less supplies you lost.

    I could see how you could argue either way to keep that in the game. Maybe that's really how some Native Americans reacted to settlers. Maybe you don't want your kid thinking that Native Americans were (and still are) like that. One thing is for sure--it was never in another version of the Trail.

    Minnesota's history is ingrained with Native Americans. I have many Native American friends and thoroughly enjoy Pow Wows & their amazing celebrations. At the same time, I recognize that there was conflict going on with settlers being killed or wounded at towns like Milford, Acton & Slaughter Slough. Interesting history to me, haven't heard anyone who's known about these events aside from Native Americans.

    Is it right to just forget about it? I personally don't think denial is the best way to deal with history. Although, the displacement of Native Americans from the east to parts further west like Oklahoma, Minnesota & Wisconsin (resulting in many deaths) isn't very widely known by most Americans.
    • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:04AM (#19476621) Journal

      Although, the displacement of Native Americans from the east to parts further west like Oklahoma, Minnesota & Wisconsin (resulting in many deaths) isn't very widely known by most Americans.
      I know that the "Trail of Tears" (the largest such forced migration) was reiterated countless times to us in school in the 70s/80s.

      A lot of the history of conflict between Native Americans and European settlers is swept under the carpet now -- we, as Americans, don't like to admit that we waged a war of genocide. Sure, there were people who actually had respect for Native Americans, and the war was never couched that way, but when push came to shove, Native Americans were exterminated or driven from land that settlers wanted.

      Now, as for Oregon Trail, I think it has to do with the changing attitudes about civil rights and respecting other cultures. People became much more aware of the fact that a lot of hatred is learned, and that there is no place for teaching hatred in our schools. Part of the whole anti-discrimination movement of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, I think.
    • by antdude ( 79039 )
      Is there a ROM for this? I'd like to see this myself. Virtual Apple 2 [] doesn't have it online. :(
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I just read Ambrose's account of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Yes, some Native Americans stole from settlers. Of course, settlers were also guilty of abominable behavior to natives. Judging either group as a whole is simplistic to the point of being naive.

      If "real history" came into such edu-sims, they wouldn't be rated E for everyone, and the tribes would've been quite different. Some friendly traders who even offered up their wives for the settlers, believing that this captured their power. Some w
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nimey ( 114278 )
      I had probably four or five versions of Oregon Trail just on my Apple //c, and one did indeed have attacking Indians. You would encounter Injuns, and the game would say if they looked hostile or not (it was never wrong). You could keep going, circle the wagons (which had no effect), or fight. If they were hostile and you kept going, they'd raid your supplies. I don't remember what happened if they were friendly but you fought -- either they ran off or you killed innocent pixels.

      I can't remember if that
    • You had copies of Oregon Trail? We had to play (in '78) via model 33 teletype's, on acoustic coupler modems... I always liked the terminal on the far wall, because it had a jack for the other terminal's phone line. When MECC was busy, a paperclip in the old 4-prong jack and a quick dial of the rotary phone and I was in!
    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
      Simple truth is there is no simple truth.
      Some tribes did murder rape and kill.
      Some tribes where peaceful and really suffered greatly at the hands of settlers.
      Some settlers where every bit as blood thirsty as some of the worst of the tribes.

      Then you have acts of individuals and groups of individuals.
      There where good and bad people on both sides as well as a complete lack of understand of each other on booth sides.
      • by Endo13 ( 1000782 )
        I don't think that's the issue at all. I think the real issue is that we took over this land and made it "our" country in the first place. You really have to see it from both perspectives.

        First, you have the perspective of the Europeans who came over to settle here. Many of them were fugitives, and were just looking for a safe place to call home. North America looked extremely inviting - it was merely inhabited by barbarians, and open to the taking! Many of the settlers really wanted nothing more than to ju
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
          Guess what I am part Native American I am Iroquois from the Seneca tribe to be exact. Your view of Native Americans is idealized at best. Native American's respect for the environment has everything to do with there level of technology at the time. The Celtic people and many other European cultures worshiped nature until they reached a certain level of technology. Not only that but many people believe that the Maya civilization collapsed because it destroyed it's environment. I can also promise you that i
    • I seem to recall playing a game called Slave Escape that was very similar to the gameplay of Oregon Trail. You'd roll up a character (with a 1/10 chance of being literate; most of the time you couldn't read, and all the signs would be mapped to random characters).

      You would set out to escape to Canada and freedom. Along the way, you would follow the underground railroad as best as you could. You had to learn things like on what side of a tree moss grew (or be fortunate enough to get a compass), you could
  • I think that Oregon Train is single handedly responsible for my addiction to resource management sims.
    • by Devir ( 671031 )
      Oregon Trail and lemonaid stand did it for me. To this day, I still stink at these types of games. Sim City? yeah I go bankrupt fast.
      • by llefler ( 184847 )
        Sim City is easy. You just hack the saved game. Never had the patience to wait for taxes.
  • by ( 71379 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @08:52AM (#19476503)
    AQUAMAN has drowned

    YOUR MOM has died of dysentery

    Good times.
    • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:01AM (#19476595) Homepage Journal
      Haha, that was the best!

      We used to purposely pick names that would look good on the tombstone, since anyone who played the same disk after you would see it when they passed by wherever on the Trail you died. It also let you write an epitaph for yourself, which led to a trail full of stones like..

      Here lies HEMAN
      skeletor finally won

      Here lies SANTA
      no more presents for anybody

      Here lies (TEACHER'S NAME)
      still can't find the on switch on the IIc

      Good times.
      • We used to purposely pick names that would look good on the tombstone, since anyone who played the same disk after you would see it when they passed by wherever on the Trail you died. It also let you write an epitaph for yourself

        Or my personal favorite:

        The game is also notorious for the ability to create custom inscriptions on the tombstones of deceased party members. Perhaps the most visible example of this is a tombstone found in most copies of the disk image available for download: the tombstone reads "H

      • Abstract nouns are always a good choice too:

        You get messages like:
        God has wondered off
        Love has contracted cholera
      • Here lies (TEACHER'S NAME) still can't find the on switch on the IIc

        Very sad to say, but doing something like this these days would probably have gotten you expelled or sent to an alternative school. It would literally ruin your life.

  • Opensource Effort (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yohanes ( 644299 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @08:52AM (#19476509) Homepage Journal
    I never heard of the games mentioned in the article. But reading the article, I think it will be wonderful if there are coordinated efforts from the open source community to build more educational games for the kids (I know about edubuntu, and stuff, but I was hoping more like MECC).
  • by MECC ( 8478 ) * on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @08:55AM (#19476537)
    With fond memories I remember time spent on kronos and nos playing the mainframe 'oregon trail'. So many failed ventures, so many families lost, so many missed deer and buffalo. I was a poor shot.

    And, using up the remaining minutes on xtalk and mmt (wait, was that YIM, AIM, or just texting) typing with people from as far away as luvern and worthington - the far reaches of civilization yet as close as a modem. All that time spent on appleseeds (oops, I suppose now I'm busted). And, of course, 'cheating' (no kidding, that was the accusation) on biology homework with just a brief soliloquy of code. *sigh*

    It was all fun until the paper ran out. Thank god for crt's.

    So much has changed, so much has stayed the same.

    • by Scutter ( 18425 )
      The first version I ever played was also mainframe based, but the interface was a teletype. There was no video display. My games usually ran 10 or 12 pages of fanfold greenbar paper. :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by plover ( 150551 ) *
      Like everyone else on MECC I played some Oregon Trail, but it was too random to be lots of fun. Far too much was out of the player's control -- fording rivers or descending hills was always a roll of the dice (sorry, a call to RANDOM.) But COMBAT -- now there was a thinking nerd's game.

      It's amazing to me that I still can't describe just how much fun it was to play a multi-player shoot'em'up with nothing but quickly printed tables of polar coordinates and vectors. How the advent of 300 baud modems made

      • Waiting... Waiting... Check that watch... Now!



        I don't remember anymore if those should be comma-separated or not... :-(

        I knew a John back in the MTS days. Argiledhel in Rochester. I also remember folks like Coiled Snake on COMBAT taking me out far too many times to recall. Bastage. :-)

        • by plover ( 150551 ) *
          Oh, man, I hated Coiled Snake. He was *good*.

          The best I ever got was estimating and altering my rotation speed to track the opponent's ships instead of the easier high-speed rotating past them, and waiting for them to drift in front of me. I also remember building up speed, swerving left and right, and eventually swinging 180 degrees as I passed my opponents and timing lasers to fire within a few hundred km after passing them. It was a totally devastating attack, on those few occasions when it worked.

        • by SEWilco ( 27983 )
          Most people played COMBAT as if they were knights armed with only a lance, racing headlong at each other while shooting. Although often only one did the rushing. It was easy to kill most players by simply rushing at the maximum single thrust speed a few degrees away from their direction. They'd often sit still, taking potshots which were increasingly ineffective as the angle of approach quickly increased. Most people had trouble estimating the proper rotation for shots at closest approach. Why did I me
          • Yeah, that was my approach for a while. Charge in at high speed at a slight angle, dueling all the way, then spin quickly at the end to attempt a cheap in-close laser shot at the victim's back shield in passing. :-)

            Eventually I encountered a group of folks who were consistently better than I was, and I started trying out different strategies with actual movement patterns, and I finally figured out how to do a zig-zag rush at people, which is what I think the infamous Coiled Snake did. I also got relativel
    • MMT - Multi Mouse Talk? I also remember MTC and later XTALK, and DDT let you roll dice in the various channels.

      Those programs were rather addictive. :-)

      • by plover ( 150551 ) *

        Those programs were rather addictive.

        I'd say! I met my wife on MECC 27 years ago, back when I was online 80 hours a week just for fun. Now I have to be online 40 hours a week for work (the other 40 is just for fun.)

        Do you remember "limbo" in MTC, where the program's "supervisors" would send you if you annoyed them too much? It was a loop where you had to solve octal math problems before a timer expired (or hang up and get back on again if you couldn't figure them out.)

  • Hmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Broken scope ( 973885 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @08:58AM (#19476569) Homepage
    What about other games like bit-bots math games or.. oh you had a little red hat and you ran around a factory looking for vehicle parts and doing different science related problems to get through doors... forgot the name. Dinosaur Tycoon and a whole bunch of others that they had on the macs and the PCs.
    • The game you are describing sounds like gizmos and gadgets. At one point in my elementary career, there were so many user profiles created that I had to go through and delete most of them randomly to be able to play. Then the teacher yelled at me...ok, I am done.
  • Anyone know of a link to an online version? Sure I should be working but I want to shot small furry animals!
  • We had the MECC system in our elementary schools in Mankato, Minnesota. My first exposure to it was around 1977 when I was in 4th grade. All of the MECC terminals we had were paper teletypes, and the original version of Oregon Trail had no graphics whatsoever. Thus, it was just a text adventure. At the beginning of the game, you could change your word for firing your gun. Most people used things like "bang" or "shoot". You had to type the name in fast or you would miss. Longer names were given a bit o
    • Count me among those old-timers who played the teletype version of this game (complete with the acoustic modem couplers). I think I played a revision to your version, though, around 1978. At that point, the maintainers had gotten wise to your cheap "wert" trick, and the words you needed to type to shoot your gun were randomly chosen each time the gun needed firing. "Pow" and "bang" were definitely two of them; I think there were a few more, like "wham" or "fire".

    • I knew I wasn't crazy. I'd remembered that game, but no one else I knew did. Didn't it have Mexican's attacking as well as Indians?
  • by antdude ( 79039 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:18AM (#19476717) Homepage Journal
    Play Oregon Trail [] on Virtual Apple 2 []'s emulator. There are other games as well.
  • This is a datapoint for all you young whippersnappers... Back in 1978 when I was a freshman in high school, we had a teletype terminal in a room next to the library that was tied into a GE timesharing system. In addition to Trek and Hunt the Wumpus, one of the games we played was Oregon Trail. Also, I remember playing Lemonade Stand on our schools's Apple II's. Was I playing games commissioned by the state of Minnesota, or did they just steal the ideas?
  • Not an MECC game, but still quite educational in my formative years. There's a Java port called Droid Quest [].
  • by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:31AM (#19476861) Homepage
    While playing "Lemonade Stand" seems harmless for children, the friendly way it introduces computer-based sales entrepreneurship can serve as a gateway to a dangerous lifestyle. Child gamers in the 80's who become addicted to the rush of successful lemonade sales can find themselves playing games such as:
    • Elite: trading money is supplemented by violent piracy activity
    • M.U.L.E: forcing your fellow players into starvation is encouraged as a way to maximize profits
    • Taipan: selling weapons and Opium is the only path to success

    If left unchecked, you can expect that these players will have moved onto a Dope Wars adulthood where they borrow money from shady lenders, sell drugs on the street, and shoot at law enforcement, all while holding onto just a slim dream of retiring to the Carribbean as their only possibility for redemption.
  • I have no relationship/vested interest in the company, but I think this shirt [] is awesome. It's a great shibboleth for geeks of a certain age.
  • by JoeCommodore ( 567479 ) <> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:47AM (#19477037) Homepage

    A couple years ago I got an email from a person trying to get the PET game Trail West to run for his dad (who wrote Trail West) on an emulator and in part of the reply was this message:

    "P.S. Glad you like the game. A little trivia about it... When my dad first made that game, just after the first PET came out, he had a meeting with some people from MECC (Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium) who were interested in buying game ideas. They thanked him and left. Never a word from them after that... EXCEPT... they magically came out with their famous nationwide best seller "Oregon Trail" the very next year, which of course was pretty much exactly "Trail West". Go figure!"

    If you want to see what Trail West was like, the file is located in this disk image [], and is playable on the VICE Emulator []. After LOADing but before RUNing, you need to POKE 639,94 in order to circumvent the ancient copy protection. (my bad, should have fixed it)

    • The teletext version of Oregon Trail was around a long time before the PET hit the scene, and I remember the Apple version of that game being pretty much a direct translation of the teletext version, with the addition of a graphical map and using a "Duck Hunt" style shooting section instead of the "Type POW" tecnique. Seems unlikely that the microcomputer version of Oregon Trail was ripping off Trail West; more likely that TW drew its inspiration from the original just as the official OT did.

    • by plover ( 150551 ) *

      When my dad first made that game, just after the first PET came out ... [MECC] magically came out with their famous nationwide best seller "Oregon Trail" the very next year, which of course was pretty much exactly "Trail West".

      I'm not sure he had all his facts straight. Oregon Trail was written in 1971 [], six years before the release of the Commodore Pet in 1977. [] That could hardly be considered "the very next year" after the PET came out.

      I'm not sure why the author of "Trail West" would have made such a

      • Maybe the Apple version of Oregon Trail was a copy of the PET code or game play? (the PET used graphics, minimal, but beyond what a TTY could do) Not sure, just what information I got.
  • ...or at least that is what I thought it was called. It was you basic dungeon crawl with The Fantasy Trip (if you are dorky enough to get that reference) like rules. I used to have the source code printed out and the entire rule book. Any body got a copy?

  • I loved Odell Lake and Odell Woods, and have since gotten a copy of Odell Lake for my Apple II, but alas, no love for Odell Woods. There also seems to be a lack of info on the game online. Is my school the only one who bought it? :(
  • MECC was for ME! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ALeavitt ( 636946 ) * <aleavitt@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:25AM (#19477449)
    As a Minnesotan student who grew up in the 80s, I got to play a lot of MECC games on our school's computers. I remember playing the Oregon Trail, Odell Lake, Number and Word Munchers, and Storybook Weaver.

    One thing that I haven't heard mentioned yet, though, is Freedom. I remember this game very well. In it, you played a slave in the south, and the game began with your escape. The game randomly generated a character with different starting statistics each time. Sometimes you would be able to read, sometimes not - in which case all signs appeared as gibberish. Sometimes your character would have a compass or tools, other times you would have to rely on the sun or the growth of moss on trees. The game was presented from a first-person perspective in static screens. The goal, of course, was to make it to the Free North. Over the course of the game, the player met sympathetic people who sheltered them, members of the Underground Railroad, and of course, many people trying to catch and return the escaped slave. It was a very deep and engaging game. The Oregon Trail and Odell Lake were educational, but even on an Apple IIGS Freedom was scary and immersive - I really was afraid when I heard that distorted bark and knew I had dogs on my trail (and no cayenne pepper to throw them off!) Of course now I would probably laugh at the simple graphics and sound, but at the time the game was incredible.
  • I was at Discland and saw a black shirt with pixelated lettering saying "You have died of dysentry".

    2 days later I was at work, and a coworker had a blue shirt with an old West font saying "you have died of dysentry."

    I never thought an educational game would spawn two different t-shirts with its catchphrase.
  • Anybody remember Combat on a teletype? 2D real time space combat, over a modem. Having to track your movements and the movements of the other ten people you were in combat with pounding in commands the instant you got a chance waiting waiting to see "**BLAM** you have been hit for 52%" and thinking, "Damn, and that was only the first missle" There was even 'clans', I think there was one called DMS, one of them I think was DMS Pnesssut or something like that. And as long as I am gathering wool with old MNer
    • I remember MU,COMBAT,USMK001 (the first one I played, I think), and MU,CCOMBAT,USMK031 which is still around on a tape I think. I also remember a COMBAT variant where the missles went "CLANG" instead of BLAM and that was more tailored for 110 baud terminals, but I don't remember the name (and it wasn't around very long).
    • by Teancum ( 67324 )
      Amen! That space combat game was years (decades?) ahead of its time in terms of game mechanics and AI, and other non visual aspects. The hardest part about playing that game was trying to keep track of the information (like team-mates when you could get on with them!) and trying to figure out how to evade the very good players. Especially when you were one "lucky" enough to score a hit on the current leader and "steal" their energy.

      The "clans" were very informal (not really a part of the game) but certai
  • Seeing as how the state created the programs for educational purposes, and not profit, it's a shame that they didn't allow the source code to be available for free. Seems like in the long run, that would have had a larger impact on education. It's even more a shame that they did not open the code once most of the profit had dried up.
  • My wife worked there (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cris E ( 34068 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @11:20AM (#19478081)
    My wife worked at MECC for about five years until Softkey (*spit*) bought and liquidated them. It was a wonderful place to be right up to the end.

    Little known fact about OT: if you started on the exact day, followed the exact path and stayed on a specific schedule (resting, waiting, etc) when you got to the Donner Pass you'd die in a snowstorm just like they did. The people working on the project (and all of the historical ones really) were adamant that historical details be correct, so someone embedded this and it stayed though many versions. (I do not recall the details, but I'm sure there are people out there who could produce the specifics.)

    Cris E
    St Paul, MN

  • I don't know the word MECC, and not being an American, the term Oregon Trail means nothing to me beyond being a trail in or to Oregon. There is a camping store in my city called Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). So having flash-skimmed the summary, I was left wondering why the second C in MEC and what does it have to do with a camping outfitting store on a trail in Oregon.

    Sigh!... /me hands in his geek card.
  • By the time I was in grade school, we were playing Oregon trail on the Mac Classic at school. My parents bought a copy for our Mac Classic home, too. Reading the manual revealed the default administrative password for the game: "boom" (a reference to the older versions of the game).

    Of course, the copies of the game at school used the same default password. You couldn't do much; the most exciting thing you could do was increase the frequency of animals, and bump the hunting session time from 30 seconds to
    • by Forge ( 2456 )
      I am actually replying to your next post.

      Once you are recruited from an existing job, there is a premium offered. Working in an industry that people reject offhand also caries a premium.

      Bottom line. If you don't personally have a problem with porn, This is a way to triple your take-home pay and build that early retirement fund.

      If it sickens you however. Stay right where you are. One must sleep at night.
  • kde-edu seems incomplete without a remake of this, Number Munchers, etc.
  • That was probably one of the most important things that led to my love of programing, when I saw it on a PET computer back in the late 70's as a child. It blew my mind, particularly the concept of simulations (as opposed to munching dots or zapping aliens), and later when I finally scored the only computer cheap enough (a sinclair) I wrote my own simple version.

    Unfortunately today I just program boring business applications for the mortgage industry and websites... but I remember those days fondly. I wis
    • by Zwack ( 27039 )
      Lego Mindstorms...

      Or look on Cool Tools ( for all sorts of strange, cool, inspire your kids things.

  • Apple/MECC history (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @07:56PM (#19484617) Homepage Journal
    A little tidbit about Apple Computer and MECC history merging together happened in the Summer of 1977. Steve Jobs was then still a pauper and desperate for trying to sell his crazy idea of a personal computer, and was seeking to intentionally market the Apple ][ to the educational market. By an off chance, he heard about an educational computing conference being held at Utah State University, and decided to show up with a couple of demo models with dreams of orders coming from the conference.... or at least gaining a foothold in the then non-existant market of educational personal computers.

    In attendance at this conference were some representatives from MECC, who were busy gathering information that would be used by the school districts in Minnesota. By Minnesota state law at the time, no school district could purchase computer equipment unless it had been explicitly authorized by MECC.

    Notable enough was that Steve Jobs had impressed the MECC staff sufficiently that they returned home to Minneapolis and changed the computer purchasing orders for the entire state of Minnesota to include the Apple II and Commodore PET as "authorized" purchases... with a strong recommendation to purchase the Apple computers. All told, several hundred Apple computers were purchased by the Minnesota school districts at a very critical time in the history of Apple Computer, and Minnesota began their movement from their central timeshare system to having nearly everything on PCs (and the demise of the MECC timeshare computer).

    My own experience more directly in this incident was at Austin High School (Austin, MN) where the high school had a fairly well established Computer Science program (quite popular among the students), and the primary computer system in use for instruction simply crashed cold and hard with no way to repair it. BTW, that was a Wang minicomputer with a whole 32K of RAM shared between 4 terminals. Faced with the possibility of having to cancel the class and re-arrange the schedules of nearly 300 students, the Austin School District decided to check with MECC and see what was available for a replacement. Fresh from the trip to Utah, MECC recommended that they check out the Apple computers from Cupertino, and immediately ordered the computers. BTW, the serial numbers on those computers had only 3 digits when they arrived. I didn't even notice that until 4 years later right before I graduated from H.S., and well after Apple computer was well established and acknowledged as an industry leader.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie