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Zork source code, 1978 January

This repository contains the source code for a January 1978 version of Zork, an interactive fiction game created at MIT by Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling. The files are a part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tapes of Tech Square (ToTS) collection at the MIT Libraries Department of Distinctive Collections (DDC).

File organization and details


The files within this directory are the Zork specific files from the 9005201.tap tape image file within the /tots/recovered/vol2 directory of the ToTS collection. Most files are written in the MDL programming language and were originally created on a PDP-10 timeshare computer running the ITS operating system.

The files were extracted from the tape image using the itstar program. The filenames have been adapted to Unix conventions, as per the itstar translation. The original filename syntax would be formatted like, LCF; ACT1 71, for example. All files have been placed into this artificial zork directory for organizational purposes.

The ar1.random directory contains the extracted files from the ar1.random file within the taa directory. The dungon.11 and zork.3 files are the source code to the ts.zork file. The files were extracted recently and added to this directory by DDC digital archivist, Joe Carrano, for researcher ease of access.

The lcf and madman directories contain the source code for the game.

The sys2 directory contains the program used to start the game, ts.zork.

The taa directory contains multiple copies of an ar1.random file, which is an ITS archive file (similar to a ZIP file). The extracted files can be found in the ar1.random directory.

The files outside of these subdirectories, such as act1.71, etc., are the decrypted versions of files found in the lcf directory. The decrypted versions were created recently and added to this directory by DDC digital archivist, Joe Carrano, for researcher ease of access.

Files with extensions .nbin and .save are binary compiled files.

There was a zork.log file within the madman directory that detailed who played Zork at the time of creation. DDC excluded this file from public release to protect the privacy of those named.


This file is metadata about the Zork files, using the CodeMeta Project schema.

This file describes the details about the rights to these files. See Rights for additional information.

This file is the readme detailing the content and context for this repository.


A file tree listing the files in the zork directory showing the original file timestamps as extracted from the tape image.

Preferred Citation

[filename], Zork source code, 1978 January, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tapes of Tech Square (ToTS) collection, MC-0741. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Distinctive Collections, Cambridge, Massachusetts. swh:1:dir:2cbef13b8c462d94b528178528cf00e83caeb6a7


To the extent that MIT holds rights in these files, they are released under the terms of the MIT No Attribution License. See the file for more information. Any questions about permissions should be directed to


Thanks to Lars Brinkhoff for help with identifying these files and with extracting them using the itstar program mentioned above.


Source code for a January 1978 version of Zork