The Oregon Trail: Official Movie Trailer

The more you know about the nascent computer education game the funnier this trailer is. I can’t tell you how many times I watched fourth graders lose everyone in their travel party because they shot more bison than they could eat or carry (or like the guy in the trailer, they spent all of their money on bullets and no other previsions). Good times in the computer lab.

Uploaded by Shyranis on Nov 6, 2009

This video is taken from the Oregon Trail 2 25th Anniversary Limited Edition CD (which also has the Windows Version of Oregon Trail 1 on it.)

The Oregon Trail is a best-selling educational computer game developed by Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger in 1971 and produced by MECC in 1974. The game was inspired by the real-life Oregon Trail and was designed to teach school children about the realities of 19th century pioneer life on the trail. The player assumes the role of a wagon leader guiding his party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon’s Willamette Valley by way of the Oregon Trail via a Conestoga wagon in 1848. The game was originally released in Floppy Disk format.

The original version of The Oregon Trail(K+T) was created in 1971 by three student teachers at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, using a mainframe computer One of these students, senior Don Rawitsch, had the idea to create a computer program for a history class he was teaching, and recruited two of his friends, Paul Dillenberger and Bill Heinemann, both of whom were students teaching math, to help him. In 1974 Rawitsch took a job at Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, or MECC, a state-funded organization that developed educational software for the classroom. He uploaded his game into the organization’s network where it could be accessed by schools across Minnesota.

The first Apple II version of The Oregon Trail was an Integer BASIC adaptation of the version listed in Creative Computing magazine from May-June 1978. The program was adapted by John Cook and provided on A.P.P.L.E.’s PDS Disk series #108. A further version called “Oregon Trail 2” was adapted in June, 1978 by J.P. O’Malley. The game was further released as part of MECC’s Elementary series, on Elementary Volume 6 in 1980. The game was titled simply Oregon, and featured minimal graphics. It proved so popular that it was re-released as a standalone game, with substantially improved graphics, in 1985.

An updated version, Oregon Trail Deluxe, was released for DOS in 1992, followed by Oregon Trail II in 1996, The Oregon Trail 3rd Edition in 1997,and 4th and 5th editions.

It has been released for DOS, Apple II, Macintosh, Windows 3.1 (and works with 95, 98, ME, 2000, Vista and 7), J2ME for Mobile phones, Blackberry and iPhone.

Throughout the course of the game, members of your party could fall ill and die from a variety of causes, such as measles, snakebite, dysentery, typhoid, cholera, exhaustion, and diarrhea. People could also die from drowning or a broken leg. Your oxen were also subject to illness and death. When one of your party members dies, a funeral is briefly held, after which you continue down the trail.

An internet meme from the game is “You have died of Dysentry.”

One Comment

  1. joebustillos

    Comments from: Debbie Patsel May 30, 2012 at 9:39 pm
    I really enjoyed this. I remember playing this game myself before I had my son. I was just fascinated with the entire game and it has become a really fond memory. Of course, when I had a son, he was playing on mac’s that were evolving. As the macs evolved, so did the computer games and I made sure my son had almost every game that played on a mac. They were dual platform back then. Guess what he grew up to be? He went to Full Sail University and got his degree in game development and now works at Electronic Arts in Orlando. And, it might have all started with this wonderful game. Thanks for the history lesson. This should be part of the gaming class.


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