Infocom Timeline

The following is a "webbified" excerpt from the Infocom Fact Sheet by Paul David Doherty.

69-70 Programming language Muddle (later called MDL) developed by several people affiliated with the MIT's Dynamic Modelling (DM) Group (Dave Cressey, Chris Reeve, Bruce K. Daniels) and AI Laboratory (Gerald Sussman, Carl Hewitt). The MDL development system runs on a DEC PDP-10 under ITS.
Dec 76 First preliminary meeting of future Infocom founders.
Jun 77 "Zork" created by Marc Blank, Bruce K. Daniels, Tim Anderson, and Dave Lebling. Written in MDL.
Feb 79 Last puzzles added to the mainframe "Zork".
Apr 79 First article about "Zork" published.
6/22/79 Infocom founded by 10 DM Group members (Tim Anderson, Joel Berez, Marc Blank, Mike Broos, Scott Cutler, Stu Galley, Dave Lebling, J. C. R. Licklider, Chris Reeve, Al Vezza). The first Board of Directors consists of Berez, Broos, Galley, Lebling, and Vezza.
Aug 79 Mike Broos resigns; Marc Blank replaces him as Director.
Nov 79 Joel Berez elected Infocom's President.
Mar 80 Infocom gets own P.O. box.
Jun 80 Agreement with Personal Software Inc. to publish "Zork I".
Nov 80 "Zork I".
First sold copy: PDP-11 version.
Dec 80 ZIP for TRS-80 Model I (written by Scott Cutler).
Until 9/81, PS sells ~1500 copies of this "Zork I" version.
Feb 81 Apple II version of "Zork I". Over 6000 copies sold in 8 months. (ZIP by Bruce K. Daniels)
Mar 81 Chris Reeve becomes Director.
May 81 TRS-80 Model II version (never sold).
Jun 81 First 2 employees (Joel Berez and Marc Blank).
Zork II agreement with Personal Software.
Aug 81 ZIP V2 introduced
Sep 81 Infocom moved to 6 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston.
Mort Rosenthal becomes Manager of Marketing.
Oct 81 End of the sales agreement with PS. (Infocom buys all Apple II versions of "Zork I" back from PS.)
Mike Dornbrook founds "Zork Users Group" (PO Box 20923, Milwaukee, WI 53220-0923) to handle requests for hints and merchandise. In 1983, the ZUG has 20000 members.
Nov 81 "Zork II".
Repackaging of "Zork I".
1/1/82 Infocom moves to 55 Wheeler Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.
Marc Blank becomes vice-president (VP) for product development.
Apr 82 "Deadline".
ZIP V3 introduced.
New ZIPs for Atari 400/800 and CP/M.
ZUG issues first InvisiClues booklet (Zork I).
May 82 Marc Blank meets Mike Berlyn at an Applefest trade show.
Jun 82 ZIP for IBM-PC.
Employees: 4.
Aug 82 ZIPs for TRS-80 Model III and NEC APC.
Sep 82 "Zork III".
Oct 82 Business Products division founded. "Cornerstone" development begins.
Dec 82 DECsystem-20 bought for development.
end-82 Sales: $1.65 million (net income: $335.000).
Mar 83 "Suspended".
ZIP for DEC Rainbow.
Apr 83 ZIPs for Commodore 64 and TI Professional.
Jun 83 "The Witness".
Employees: 20.
Jul 83 Shutdown of ZUG.
Aug 83 "Planetfall".
Mike Dornbrook joins Infocom as Product Manager for Entertainment Products.
Sep 83 "Enchanter".
Nov 83 "Infidel".
ZIP for DECmate.
Dec 83 ZIP for Tandy-2000.
Ray Stata elected Director.
end-83 Sales: $6 million (net income: $526.000).
Jan 84 Al Vezza becomes Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Feb 84 ZIPs for Kaypro II and Osborne.
Mar 84 "Sorcerer".
ZIPs for MS-DOS and TI 99/4 A.
John Brackett new General Manager (GM) of Business Products division.
May 84 Second DECsystem-20 bought.
Jun 84 "Seastalker".
ZIP for Apple Macintosh.
John O'Leary new GM of Consumer Products division.
Employees: 50.
Sep 84 "Cutthroats".
Oct 84 "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy".
11/1/84 Cornerstone announced at NYC press conference.
Nov 84 "Suspect".
Dec 84 Management restructured.
end-84 Sales: $10 million.
Jan 85 "Cornerstone".
CES in Las Vegas: For promotion of "Suspect", Infocom rents a mansion and invites ~5000 people to become murder suspects.
Mar 85 ZIP for Epson QX-10.
Apr 85 Move to 125 Cambridge Park Drive, Cambridge, MA 02140.
New Mail Order Department (PO Box 478, Cresskill, NJ 07626).
ZIP for Apricot.
Jun 85 "Wishbringer".
Employees: 100.
Aug 85 ZIP for Atari ST.
Sep 85 "A Mind Forever Voyaging".
First layoffs due to "Cornerstone"s commercial failure (despite hiring a separate sales and marketing team).
Oct 85 "Spellbreaker".
Dec 85 Business Products division laid off.
ZIP for Amiga.
end-85 Sales: $11.5 million.
Jan 86 Marc Blank and CEO Al Vezza leave.
Joel Berez new CEO. (He remains president.)
Feb 86 "Ballyhoo".
Price cut for "Cornerstone" (from $495 to $99.95).
2/19/86 Directors of Infocom and Activision approve of merger.
Mar 86 "Fooblitzky".
Jun 86 "Trinity".
EZIP for Commodore 128.
6/13/86 Merger. Activision Inc. (Mountain View, CA) buys Infocom for stock swap worth $7.5...9.0 million.
GM John O'Leary leaves.
Employees: 40.
Sep 86 "Leather Goddesses of Phobos".
Oct 86 "Moonmist".
Nov 86 "Enchanter Trilogy".
87-89 Losses of ~$200.000 per fiscal quarter.
Jan 87 "Zork Trilogy".
Jan 87 "Hollywood Hijinx".
Mar 87 "Bureaucracy".
Jun 87 "Stationfall".
"The Lurking Horror".
Sep 87 "Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It".
"Plundered Hearts".
Oct 87 "Beyond Zork".
"Classic Mystery Library".
"Science Fiction Classics".
XZIP for Apple IIgs.
Nov 87 "Border Zone".
Dec 87 Solid Gold "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and "Zork I" (Apple II, Macintosh, C64, IBM).
Jan 88 "Sherlock" (Apple II, C64, IBM).
Mike Dornbrook new VP.
Mar 88 "Lane Mastodon".
"Gamma Force".
Sound version of "Sherlock" (Macintosh, Amiga, maybe Atari ST and Apple IIgs too).
Chris Reeve leaves.
Apr 88 "ZorkQuest I".
Jun 88 Employees: 30.
Jul 88 Solid Gold "Leather Goddesses of Phobos" and "Planetfall".
Joel Berez resigns. Joe Ybarra (formerly at Electronic Arts) becomes new president.
Aug 88 "ZorkQuest II".
Sep 88 Solid Gold "Wishbringer".
"Quarterstaff" (Macintosh).
Oct 88 "Zork Zero"
YZIP for Macintosh (written by Duncan Blanchard; YZIP specification by Tim Anderson & Dave Lebling,).
Nov 88 "BattleTech" (IBM).
Mar 89 "Shogun"
YZIP for Amiga (written by Clarence Din). "BattleTech" (C64).
May 89 YZIP for Apple IIgs (written by Jon D. Arnold).
5/5/89 Of Infocom's 26 employees, 15 are laid off. The 11 others are offered the chance to move to Silicon Valley. Only 5 accept, including President Joe Ybarra and GM Rob Sears. Duncan Blanchard is the only long time Infocommie among the five.
Jun 89 Activision (now Mediagenic) moves Infocom from Cambridge, MA to Menlo Park, CA.
"BattleTech" (Amiga, maybe Apple II)
Jun 89 "Arthur".
YZIP for IBM (written by Scott Fray).

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Last revised: Thu Sep 14 13:20:27 EDT 1995 / Peter Scheyen <>