[game_preservation] Sumer Game - I AM ERROR

Devin Monnens dmonnens at gmail.com
Sun May 30 19:17:25 EDT 2010

Ok, turns out there is a Sumer Game which predates this - and which may be
the initial one (whether or not there is a connection between this one and
the FOCAL version or the BASIC version I don't know, but the description
seems far too similar). It was designed by BOCES (Board of Cooperative
Educational Services in Northern Westchester County, NY). In addition, there
was a Sierra Leone Development Project game built in FORTRAN. The games were
tested from October 1965 to March 1966. The Sumerian Game took up 15,000
lines of code and 37,000 memory places in the computer. The game was
programmed by William McKay from IBM. Planning included consultation with
experts in ancient Middle East history and modern Sierra Leone.

You can read about this through Richard L Wing's article "Two Computer-Based
Economics Games for Sixth Graders" in:

American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 10, No. 3, 31-35 (1966)

The article contains a printout of the code, which is far more in-depth than
the version designed for FOCAL.

After a couple hours of hard digging on the web, I've found little
information on any of the individuals involved. Near as I can tell, most of
them are dead anyway, but it would be nice to know more about them. William
McKay in particular, the programmer of The Sumerian Game. So far, I know he
was at the Franklin Institute where he wrote "The Matrix Math Compiler for
Univac I" in 1957, and I believe prior to that received a degree and
instructorship at Drexel. He joined IBM in 1960. You would also think there
would be more information on Richard L Wing, but I couldn't dig up any more.


On Thu, Mar 25, 2010 at 11:57 AM, Devin Monnens <dmonnens at gmail.com> wrote:

> Just heard it straight from the king's mouth (or his keyboard, rather) -

> Sumer was indeed designed by Doug Dyment. I don't know where the idea came

> from that Richard Merrill built the program though. I think it might be as a

> result of this book, which I have heard lists Sumer's designer as Merrill:


> http://www.amazon.com/Digital-At-Work-Snapshots-Thirty-Five/dp/1555580920


> Time to change the history books...


> On Thu, Mar 25, 2010 at 9:33 AM, Devin Monnens <dmonnens at gmail.com> wrote:


>> The famous game Hammurabi is credited to Richard Merrill, the creator of

>> FOCAL. It was one of the first pieces of software made for FOCAL, and it was

>> designed in 1968. However, the DECUS DEC Catalogues clearly list "The Sumer

>> Game" as being designed by Doug Dyment of DEC Canada. Clearly these two

>> accounts can't be correct.


>> http://pdp-8.org/scans/highgate/decus/decus_lib_73a.pdf - Scroll to Page

>> 90, FOCAL-5


>> The only Doug Dyment I see on the web is the travel speaker (who oddly

>> enough grew up in Canada...but got a degree in computer science in 1979).


>> I think finding the DECUS program FOCAL-5 would help alleviate things (as

>> would contacting either of these two). Unfortunately, it's about as easy as

>> finding a first folio of Shakespeare, as nobody seems to have saved these

>> documents.


>> The more I read, the more I am doubting traditional histories.

>> Unfortunately, I have to speak about this on Wednesday, so I may just have

>> to tell them 'I don't know'. :P


>> --

>> Devin Monnens

>> www.deserthat.com


>> The sleep of Reason produces monsters.





> --

> Devin Monnens

> www.deserthat.com


> The sleep of Reason produces monsters.


Devin Monnens

The sleep of Reason produces monsters.
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