The Wild Spread of ‘Drug Wars,’ From Your Calculator to Your Phone
It’s the late 1990s, sixth period. You sit at the back of the classroom, barely listening to a buzzing Algebra II lesson, as you play with your school-supplied TI-82 graphing calculator. The only math you are learning right now is that cocaine costs more than acid and heroin can be very profitable in Coney Island.
Before everyone had a cell phone, millions of teens across the country discovered Drug wars, a simple game about buying and selling drugs in New York City neighborhoods while avoiding Officer Hardass (yes, that’s his name) and his deputies, abusers or anyone else who tried to get you prevent chemical smuggling to hungry customers. You have 30 days to buy low and sell high to make as much money as possible, or at least enough to pay off the loan shark.
Next year Drug wars will be 40 years old. During this time it went from a DOS game to a calculator game, to a web browser game, and more recently to a smartphone app, sometimes referred to as Dope wars rather.
“The number of ports in the game always amazes me,” says John E. Dell, the original author of the game, in an interview with WIRED.
Dell wrote the very first version of Drug wars on a TRS-80 for his second year computer science class. He said he recently played a game at his friend’s house that involved buying and selling goods at fluctuating prices. Dell said he couldn’t remember which game, but it probably could have been magnate. He decided to adapt this style of play to one where the products included ludes, speed, weed, acid, heroin and cocaine.
Dell’s teacher reluctantly gave him an A for homework.
“I distinctly remember him putting a scowl on the paper,” Dell said. “He didn’t like the subject.
Dell would later rewrite the game under DOS and upload it to a Bulletin Board System (BBS), which was how computer users in the 1980s communicated, shared files, or played games online.
After high school, Dell forgot about gambling and enrolled in the United States Naval Academy, studying computer science as he began a military career.
Drug wars continued to evolve as it was reprogrammed into a true BBS game. It was also adapted to early editions of Windows, but that was in the late 1980s and early 1990s when computers were often reserved for the wealthy and / or nerdy.
Drug wars really went viral (at a time before that word was used to describe anything other than pathogens) when it appeared on a TI-82 graphing calculator – the same device you could find in any what an advanced math course in high school in the 1990s and 2000s.
Jonathan Maier rewrote Drug wars on his graphing calculator in 1993. Maier, then a sophomore in high school, shared the game with his friends using a house cable that allowed him to connect his graphing calculator to his computer. From there it spread among his friends, then throughout the school.
“I knew it was a hit when I walked past the math class and saw the teacher playing alone on the contraption that displayed the calculator screen on the overhead projector,” Maier said in a statement. E-mail.
Maier explained that he was drawn to gambling, like many of his peers, due to the prohibited nature of the drug content at the time. It didn’t hurt that the simplicity of the game was easy to grasp even for the most casual gamer.
“All credit goes to the original programmer for crafting the brilliant design of the original game in the DOS version,” Maier said, referring to Dell. “I wore a few other things and even made a few games, but none of them went viral.”
Maier was a mechanical engineering student at Georgia Tech when he learned that one of his former high school mates had changed his original curriculum, added his own name to it, and uploaded it to one of the sharing sites. of primitive files that existed in the late 1990s.