[6/28/2013 See comments at end from MIT Alumni that fill in some details here]
We got the following comments from MIT Alumni:
From Tom Knight on 6/24
That would have been in the Dynamic Modeling group Imlac installation, on the second floor of 545 Technology Square.The Imlacs were connected by serial lines to the Dynamic Modeling PDP-10, running ITS, one of three KA-10 ITS systems on the 9th floor of Tech Square at the time. JCR Licklider, who ran DM, didn't like those new fangled bitmaps. In my opinion (and that of many others) the Imlacs were a programming and support nightmare. The epitome (with the possible exception of the similar GT-11) of the catch phrase "There is a special name for a little bit of intelligence. It is stupidity." Cleverness in the console program led to unending complexity and failure in the mainframe.From Ed Schwalenberg on 6/24
Fascinating!Kris Karas adds
Here are a few things I remember:
The Imlacs were owned by the Dynamic Modeling group of MIT LCS, headed by Al Vezza. Vezza was not fond of Maze, because randoms like you would come in at midnight, pound on the keyboards and break them. So the installed version of Maze was typically neutered; you had to have a guide like CBF to know where to find a good copy. Also, there was a screensaver for idle Imlacs; one of the images was a Maze playing position where user AV (Vezza) was directly in front of you, his eyes directly on you.
The cognoscenti also knew how to activate various cheat modes. A regular shot had a propagation delay to the target; control-mumble-cokebottle eliminated that delay. Another patch activated keystrokes that would let you remove walls in your copy of the maze. A third would show you the positions of others in the overview.
SAIL had some Imlacs, notably one at John McCarthy's home; I wonder if that was the first "home computer"? I also wonder whether he ever played Maze on it.
Dynamic Modeling or Dynamod was located in what was then NE43 aka 545 Technology Square. I well remember (from midnight tours led by KLH) the room with a bunch of Imlacs, but I don't remember the room number. That building has been engulfed (the east wall is now the west side of an enormous atrium) and renumbered 200 Tech Square; it's now Novartis.
Dynamod the research group, and DM the machine, played another role in gaming history, employing the hackers who wrote the original Zork.
Imlacs not withstanding, DM was also home to MDL, a wonderfully cuspy
language, if anybody remembers it. (I still have my MDL software
reference, forlornly gathering dust on a bookshelf.) I probably owe
some personal success in the field of software to MDL, MACLISP, and DM.
I taught myself elements of good software structure and design from that.
I remember that as an early MIT student, getting in to the 2nd floor of 545 TS to play Maze was one of the rarest of privileges, and as others have said I owed my access and my Maze training to Charles.
As Ed mentioned, the key gameplay difference between the standard Maze game and most FPS games was that you weren't so much firing a gun as dropping a time-delay grenade in the hallway. This made for very challenging game play, allowing you time to avoid getting killed if you could manage to duck into a side passage in time, or to doom an opponent by baiting him into chasing you into a corridor where you had left a nasty present waiting.
In addition to Zork (which I lost much more time to than Maze) the DM group (or at least individuals) also produced one of the first wide-area multi-player games, an ongoing trivia contest based on user-submitted content. I believe that there were players from all over the ARPAnet-connected world. I think that Peter David Lebling (part of the Zork creation team with Tim Anderson and Mark Blank) wrote and maintained it. He also perpetually occupied the top ranking slot with a commanding lead over the rest of us peons, though I held down 2nd place for a while. Anyone else remember this?