How 3 Minnesotans created the Oregon Trail 50 years ago

The Oregon Trail turned 50, what if you scratch your head, a video game in 1971? – you’re not alone.

The plot: Yes, it was the kids of the 1990s who learned to ford rivers, replace broken wagon wheels, and tried to avoid dysentery.

  • But it was actually a group of baby boomers in Minneapolis who first played the game as college kids in the early 1970s.

Driving the wagon: The game was created by a trio of students from Carleton College (Northfield) five years before the first personal computers.

  • It was originally played on a teletype at Jordan Junior High in North Minneapolis, reports The 74, which introduced the creators for the 50th anniversary.

Why is this important: The Oregon Trail eventually became a computer game and was used extensively in classrooms across the country in the 1990s. It is one of 32 games in The Strong’s World Video Game Hall of Fame. .

  • One estimate says 65 million copies were sold, and the eventual owner of the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) was making up to $ 10 million a year from the game in the ’90s.

Yes, but: Because the creators – Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger – gave the game to MECC in 1974 with no expectation of reimbursement, the original creators never saw a dime, reports The 74.

Our opinion : Nick Halter and Torey Van Oot of Axios Twin Cities grew up playing The Oregon Trail and agree that it was not only fascinating, as The 74 describes it, but it also taught young people how to manage resources.

  • Thanks to The Internet Archive, you can play a First Edition on your computer. We decided to take a break from newsletter writing in the name of nostalgia.

Take the trail:

  • Nick made it to the Willamette Valley, but his cavalier attitude about river crossings resulted in the drowning of Anna and a dozen oxen. Final score: 892.
  • Torey remembered to hunt early and often and to grease the palms of the river guides, in order to avoid disaster on the crossings. She lost Beth along the way. Final score: 3,318.
  • Audrey Kennedy performed for the first time and unfortunately did not succeed as all five of her chariot members perished, the last of which was herself, near The Dalles.
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