Analog modem emulator?

Vintage Computer Festival vcf at
Fri Aug 5 04:06:07 CDT 2005

On Fri, 5 Aug 2005, Jim Leonard wrote:

> Agreed, but I would KILL to be able to play modem games again -- not BBS
> games, but games for which the only method of playing against someone
> else was via modem or null-modem cable. Dan Buntin's Modem Wars comes to
> mind. Some games even let you play against players with completely
> different hardware, such as Populus (PC vs. Amiga worked), Armor Alley
> (PC vs. Macintosh worked), etc.

Yo Leonard!

Never heard of Modem Wars for some reason.  Sounds intriguing.

I once did a legal research project on this (in fact, it was my first).
Some guy patented multi-node, multi-player networked video games (i.e.
everything on the internet today) back in 1982.  The task was to find
prior art to prove that this sort of game has been arounded prior to 1982.
Of course Mazewar on the Imlac was a major patent killer (and mine came in
handy for the attorneys).  We also located some other interesting
microcomputer examples.

The first was TelePong for the Apple ][ (1978).  The attorney found
reference to it while going through an old issue of Byte or something in
my collection.  It was a demo that got sent with the then new Apple
Communications Card.  You could play an opponent at Pong at another Apple
][ either through a null modem or over a modem.

The second was Commbat for the TRS-80 (1980).  Published by Adventure
International (Scott Adams).  You played against an opponent on another
TRS-80 connected by a serial (or something).  The game on one machine (the
master) generated a terrain map and then transmitted the map to the other
computer.  You then had to play "capture the flag".

The third was an unwitting clone of Commbat.  It was called Flash Attack!
(1982) and ran on the PET.  It was exactly the same thing as Commport.  A
map would be generated on the "master" computer (as designated by a
certain pin on the user port being set a certain way) and then transmitted
to the other computer.  Then play would begin and each player on each PET
would navigate their tank to the other side of the map where the
opponent's base was.  The object was to destroy the opponent's base.

All these and more are cool early networked microcomputer games.  Besides
Maze War, the other contender vying for "first" networked computer game is

(Somewhat pompous)

However, I've found evidence (in the way of memos) of multiplayer
networked games (though not graphical based) being played on JOSS (I think
running on the Johnniac?  It's not clear...) in the late 1960s.  Will pick
up research on that when I have time.

> I think that that kind of emulation is not going to happen... unless I
> get off my ass and write it myself. I think the only practical way to
> get it to happen is to come up with some sort of protocol and/or
> document it fully with portable source code, and then implement it in
> some emulators, like WinUAE and DOSBOX, and finally demonstrate a
> working 2-player game using the "modem" setting in the game, but going
> over TCP/IP.

Doom would be a good test case.


Sellam Ismail                                        Vintage Computer Festival
International Man of Intrigue and Danger      

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