For as great of an impact as The Oregon Trail had on me as a kid, I know so very little about the circumstances surrounding its development. As it turns out, they're fairly remarkable. A Mental Floss profile of the game recounts the story of three student teachers who wanted to bring the subject matter to life in their classrooms.
The original version of the wildly successful educational software was played using a teletype, which involved physical rolls of paper. This was 1971, after all. "Despite the lack of graphics, students who played weren't students anymore," said co-creator Don Rawitsch. "They were settlers crossing a wasteland. Their decisions were a question of life or death."
The game continued to evolve from there, but this basic version, it should be pointed out, was created in a mere two weeks. Two weeks. Rawitsch and his roommates were so desperate for a teletype to develop on -- again, this was the early '70s -- that they resorted to programming in a former janitor's closet at Bryant Junior High School. What am I doing with my life, again?
The Legend of The Oregon Trail [Mental Floss]