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In the late 1970s Ken Williams was looking to start a company with the intent of producing business software for the Apple computer. One day Ken brought home a teletype terminal to work on an accounting program. As he explored the mainframe he was connected to he noticed a small executable named Adventure. Not recognizing it he called is wife Roberta over and decided to Mystery Houserun it to see what it was, what they found changed the course of adventure game history as we know it. Colossal Caves Adventure was a text based adventure written by Will Crowther and Don Woods, as they typed in each command they waited anxiously for the mainframe (which was 3,000 miles away) to output a response. Upon completion of the game they found themselves hooked and tried to find more. Unfortunately during this time the adventure games were few and far between so she began work on creating her own game. She liked the idea of the text-only adventure but felt the user would have a much better experience if she included pictures along with the text. She called her creation Mystery House (inspired by Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians and the board game Clue), the first graphical adventure game. Ken spent his nights hacking out the code for Roberta's game. When it was completed they packaged the game in small plastic zip-lock bags and took them to local software stores to sell. Much to Ken's surpise the game was a hit and even though he thought there wasn't really a market for computer games and that business tools was were the money was he decided to pursue it anyway. Thus in 1980 they founded On-Line Systems


In 1982, with five successful adventure Sierra Offices titles and several arcade titles On-Line Systems became Sierra On-Line. In 1984, Sierra On-Line, changed the game scene again by introducing "animated" adventure games where the player could "maneuver through the graphics in a 3-dimensional perspective." The frist game to take advantage of this new style of play was King's Quest. With success of King's Quest came other series such as Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry and Police Quest. Sierra continued to develop new games and push technical boundaries until late 1998 when it was purchased by Cendant.