Don Woods

From Academic Kids

Don Woods is a perennial hacker and computer programmer. Woods teamed with James Lyon while both were attending Princeton in 1972 to produce the unprecedented, excursive INTERCAL programming language. Later, he worked at the Stanford AI lab (SAIL), where among other things he became the SAIL contact for, and a contributor to, the Jargon File.

Woods is probably best known, however, for his role in the development of the Colossal Cave Adventure game, which he found by accident on a SAIL computer in 1976. After contacting the original author by the (nowadays nostalgic) means of sending an e-mail to crowther@sitename, where sitename was every host currently on the Internet. He heard back from William Crowther shortly afterward.

Given the go-ahead, Woods proceeded to add enhancements to the Adventure game, and then distributed it on the Internet. It became very popular, especially with users of the PDP-10. Woods stocked the cave that Crowther had written with magical items, creatures, and geographical features, turning Crowther's Kentucky cave into a loose fantasy world based around role playing game elements. Woods can thus, in a sense, be considered one of the progenitors of the entire genre of computer adventure games.

By 1977 tapes of the game were common on the Digital user group DECUS, and others (see The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder for a human history of this period).

He continues to work in the programming field, and to apply variations to various games.

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