Historically significant games originating on TRS-80 Model I/III or PET?

Are there any classic TRS-80 Model I/III/IV games of historical significance? I remember classroom TRS-80’s as having a lot of fun games, like Taipan, Crazy Painter (much better than the other versions, like the bad TRS-80 CoCo Color Computer version), Thirteen Ghosts, Outhouse, Sea Dragon, Rear Guard, Super Star Trek …

But most of the TRS-80 games I remember were clones of popular arcade games, while the weird but great games (13 Ghosts, Crazy Painter, Outhouse) seem to have been forgotten and not really had a big impact.

I remember Taipan being a big deal, although I remember the Apple ][ port being more popular. Did Taipan originate or popularize the trading game genre? If so, then this counts!

I think Temple of Apshai may have originated on the TRS-80, but it seems to have been developed for the PET at the same time? Temple of Apshai is a significant game in developing the CRPG genre, and also historically significant in its role establishing Epyx (which was a big deal in videogames for some time). But if this was simultaneously developed for the PET, this is a half credit.

In contrast, I think there is nothing so significant on the VIC-20. AFAIK, the VIC-20 did not originate any genres or significant gaming innovations. I think its only really significant game is Jeff Minter’s Gridrunner, but Gridrunner was basically a Centipede clone.

In the other direction, there are tons of really significant computer games that originated on the Apple ][, Atari 8-bits, Commodore 64. I’m not sure about the Commodore PET, or TRS-80 CoCo. Speaking of which, for some reason I just don’t like the CoCo the way I like the classic TRS-80 Model I/III. Maybe it’s the CPU. Anyway, whatever. Just a personal hangup.

Any ideas about TRS-80 Model I/III significance to videogames? Thanks!

Also - same question but Commodore PET.

I’m really not familiar with the PET/CBM; I’ve never seen one, much less seen any games for it (other than some really obvious PET BASIC games which happened to also run on C64).

I think the PET/CBM never had a lot of games, unlike the classic TRS-80, so it’s not surprising if there aren’t many significant PET/CBM games.

That said, the PET does have at least one really important game to its credit - Telengard. This game was actually developed on the PET in the 1970s but it wouldn’t be until 1982 that Avalon Hill discovered it at a convention and then brought it to the masses. The most popular version would be the C64 version.

And Temple of Apshai, I already mentioned above.

Thanks for any ideas!


A very interesting question - and an interesting family of questions, too.

For example, I believe both Elite and Thrust originated on Acorn’s BBC, although quite possibly reached more players on other platforms, such as the C64.

But pushing further back, to influential games first seen on machines from the 70s, that could be fascinating. If quite difficult!


From memory only, I’m not aware of any significant PET games that were not related to something that already existed otherwise. I think, it’s a common theme with early home computers: having something like a “real” arcade game (or something known from bigger systems) at home on your screen, doing as good as you can by just ASCII or PETSCII characters, was already significant in its own.


Yeah, see the thing is … the big three of 1977 included the Apple ][, and no one has to think twice to remember at least one monumental genre popularizing game that originated on the Apple ][.

The PET? Well, it had primitive graphics abilities so it’s maybe not surprising if it didn’t spawn a whole lot.

But the TRS-80? It had a lot of games, so you’d expect some with some serious historical significance.

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In this thread I see a mention of Jedi Knight:

This 1981 strategy game for the TRS-80 microcomputer is credited to Stan Schriefer. The game is particularly notable for presenting an original story set in the Star Wars universe rather than simply recreating portions of the movies.

And on this page we learn that Scott Adams started on TRS-80:

Scott Adam’s prototypical adventures–12 in all–spruced up with 100-color graphics and Votrax vocals. Fun, not always logical, very story-oriented series. Each adventure has its own theme and often exotic locale. They map small but score big on imagination. Adventure International.” S.A.G.A. stood for Scott Adams Graphics Adventures. Originally published as text-only adventures for the TRS-80 computers, these were enhanced with graphics and released for the Apple II.


It might be that the VIC-20 was Minter’s first platform, so if we count ‘Jeff Minter’ as a game genre in itself, ungulate-themed action games, that scores one for the VIC-20. (Andes Attack, 1982)

From an interview:

The first machine I actually owned was the ZX80, and in fact I did a few pre-Llamasoft games for the ZX80/ZX81 for an outfit called dk’tronics in the U.K. However, they treated me spectacularly badly, and so the founding of Llamasoft coincided with my getting my hands on the VIC-20.


Looks like the Apple II hit Lode Runner started life on the PET as a game called Kong… although it was not sold in that form, nor in the subsequent form where it ran on a VAX. Full story here.


Wow, thanks for the info on Lode Runner! It all makes sense … I mean, the similarities to Space Panic were unmistakable, but the differences were so weird. It makes sense that the creator of Lode Runner was going by a verbal description. (Note that while Space Panic was not very popular, the clone Apple Panic for the Apple ][ was very popular.)

This reminds me of how different versions of Jawbreaker ended up very different due to informal and not entirely accurate descriptions sketched on paper.

Anyway, I’ll say this counts as a historically significant game which originated on the PET, at least alongside the Apple ][.

As for VIC-20/Jeff Minter … well, a lot of people cut their teeth on the VIC-20, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their works on the VIC-20 had any particular larger significance. For better or worse, Jeff Minter’s most popular games were clones for some time. Gridrunner was his first big hit, and arguably the best VIC-20 game of all. But it was quintessentially a Centipede clone. Attack of the Mutant Camels was a clone of The Empire Strikes Back. Llamatron was a Robotron clone.

Thanks for the info on Scott Adams! Definitely historically significant, being the first really popular text adventure games.

Jedi Knight, though … I hadn’t heard of it and trying to look it up I don’t see it as being influential. Seems more like a historical footnote.

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Speaking of Robotron, there was a game for the PET, which I saw in a shop, before I’d ever used a microcomputer, which had the player running from a horde of converging enemies. It’s possible the enemies were Pi characters. There was some scenery - grey squares - which gave you the chance of out manoeuvring the enemies. I wonder if that was original for the PET??

Over on your original Fediverse post, we should note that a helpful person posted that Football Manager started life on (a clone of) the TRS-80:

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One might be Olympic Decathlon. Not because it’s particularly good, but a certain Bill Gates is listed in the author credits.

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I don’t know, but the description you give sounds like a classic game Daleks. I don’t know if “Daleks” was a clone of an earlier game that wasn’t Doctor Who themed … the mechanics aren’t very Dalek-like … more like zombies or very poorly built robots.

Basically, it’s turn based and tile based, with 8 directional movement. You can also optionally stay in place for a turn. All of the Daleks simply go toward you one tile. Any Dalek which collides with anything - including another Dalek - is instantly destroyed and remains as a wrecked Dalek.

The game revolves around trying to guide the Daleks into colliding with each other or obstacles. Various options added to make survival easier include random teleport.

I vaguely remember reading about this game in a magazine many years before actually seeing or playing the game. It might have been one of those old “mathematical recreations” articles in Scientific American or something.

This game popped up in some form on almost every of the early micros, I think it was most commonly called Zombies. Later, it became quite popular on the Mac as “Daleks“ – including little Dalek icons, of course. Hard to say, where it started. (The game, I’m speaking of, was term-based, so it lent itself to almost any hardware with a screen, as runtime and processor speed wasn’t an issue.)


To my seventh-grade mind, the Model I’s Invasion Force and Dancing Demon were the most impressive. I have since discovered that Invasion Force was a thinly disguised rip-off of an 8080 game … still quite an experience for the time.

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Ah, thanks for the clarification on Zombies/Daleks! IIRC, the Mac version is indeed the version I saw and played first (around 1989 or 1990).

I recall one of the PET games we used to have where I was doing Computer Studies O Level was one that sounds very similar. It had scenery, with Pi characters converging on your character, and I think the objective was to get from one side of the screen to the other. In this case it was called Rhino but it sounds like it went by quite a few names.


This Wikipedia page seems to suggest that both Daleks and BSD robots appeared in 1984, but that they were reimplementations of a DTSS game (probably in BASIC) from Dartmouth College in the '70s:

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I first saw the ancestor for Microsoft Flight Simulator on a TRS-80 Model 1, but doing a little research I found out it came out a year after the Apple II version (January 1980 versus January 1979), so it was a port instead of an original TRS-80 game.


Another false positive, while not a really significant game: Bomber. (The game, where you pilot an airplane flying from side to side and have to release a bomb at the right time, which is the only interaction.) I would have bet that this originated on an early micro like the TRS-80, but there is a PDP-1 game with this name. (I wasn’t able to crack the encoding of the tape image, but I’m pretty sure, it’s this game.)


I tried to look up “Bomber” for TRS-80, and it looks like a clone of the Atari 1977 game “Canyon Bomber”.

Canyon Bomber was not a very deep game, but it inspired (by misunderstanding a verbal description) a far more interesting game, Vic-20 Blitz. In Blitz, your bomber would drop one line each pass, which gave the game real stakes for missing because if you didn’t successfully bomb all of the buildings you’d crash into them.

I had a version of Vic Blitz on the Amiga which elevated this to a sublime level. It was played on something like an 8x8 grid, and each bomb only took out a single block. As a result, you had to perfectly plan out which block(s) to bomb each pass or you’d lose. It was a very deep puzzle game, because you had to bomb deeper at first because bombing just the highest peaks would not optimize how many blocks per turn you were bombing. If you only bombed the highest peaks, then you wouldn’t be able to take out all of the blocks near the bottom. It was very very challenging as a real time puzzle game.

As for the historical significance of Vic Blitz? I think it’s an unfairly overlooked game that could have been a great genre if something like the Amiga PD version I had was thought of earlier on. It has some strategic similarities to Space Invaders, but it’s easy to implement with slow BASIC because only two objects need to be animated (you and your bomb).

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TRS80: Scott Adams adventure games - pretty much the first and the ‘how to do it’ for most interpreter driven games of this form on a tape based system. There were some other stunning games to - like Asylum which I don’t think has ever really been repeated in any other format, and Apshai - one of the early D&D crawl games - it also has a marvellous version of Zaxxon and Armoured Patrol (a very early home computer battlezone)

PET: Dungeon - probably the first personal computer ‘roguelike’ and it also had copies of things like Midway Campaign - one of the first Avalon Hill wargames.