Remembering that not everything computer-related has survived
1. When I was ten, I spent a lot of time in the computer room at summer camp* playing a game for the Apple II called "Caves of Kraken" (or possibly "Cave of Kraken"). It was a simple but fun RPG; you'd pick a group of ten (I think) adventurers, each of whom had one item (Boots, or a Boat, or a Sword). Then you'd make your way through a maze-like dungeon (randomly-generated, I think?), encountering obstacles. For each obstacle (say, a river of lava) you could choose to either go back, or try to use one of your items (I think the Boots worked on lava; cobblers were more talented in the old days). But if the item didn't work, the adventurer would die, and you'd lose the item, because reasons.
It was a hard game (one that, by definition, got harder with each failure), and we never beat it. But that's not the point here (I don't know if there was an RPG for the Apple II that I ever beat; Wizardry was hard, y'all, and don't get me started on Eamon). The thing that I find fascinating is that there's no record of this game anywhere online. This was '82, so well before the Internet became A Public Thing, but it was certainly within the era of the BBS, and of cracked games being traded online and at user groups. But nada. I can't find any mention of who wrote it, who published it, or even if anyone else played it. I suspect it's far from the only game of that era that's truly lost.
2. When I was in high school, I had an Atari 1040ST**, and joined the local Atari User Group. I can't for the life of me remember the name of the group (it was a NYC group, so probably would have had a name like "MAUG" (Manhattan Atari User Group) or somesuch. It's not listed in the oldest list of user groups I can find online, which would have been from about five years after I drifted away.
And I wasn't just a member of that group; for a year or two, I wrote the games column for the newsletter. Every two months, I'd put together one-paragraph reviews of five or six games*** and upload them to the BBS to be distributed at the next meeting. It was my first published writing (not that I got paid for it, of course). But it was a fun gig, the first one that allowed me to hone my writing skills beyond what I'd done for school, and in a perfect world, I'd be able to look back on it and at least think about how awful a teenage writer I was (and yes, I'm sure I was awful, because I was a teenage writer). Not surprisingly, even though various user group newsletters have made it online, this one hasn't, and since I can't even find the name of the group, I wouldn't know individual folks to try to contact for archives.
So, yeah. The Internet's great for remembering stuff that happened post-94, but before that? Good luck.
(In addition, thinking about things that didn't originate electronically, look for any record of Streets Department Store in Oklahoma, or the meagre amount of info on The New York Experience, a place I must have visited two dozen times in the '70s and '80s.)
Incidentally, the earliest non-academic writing I've still got is a poem or two from when I was the Duke Young Writer's Camp****, because I've still got an issue of the camp magazine somewhere. The next oldest is a humor piece from the Emory Spoke from March '93. I'm perfectly okay with those not being online, the former because of being a teenager, the latter because 20-year-old me did have some talent, but wasn't quite developed yet.
*Yes, there was a computer activity at my summer camp. It was one of those horrible athletic camps that Jewish families in NYC sent their kids to, and was pretty much exactly like the camp in Sleepaway Camp, but without girls or murders. Nothing is a breeding ground for bullies like Camp Wildwood in the '80s was, complete with counselors primarily from a frat house at the U of Missouri. Computer and tennis were the only things that kept me largely sane there.
**I stand by the ST as one of the greatest computers ever.
***For those who don't know about my occasionally-misspent youth, I might have been rather talented at liberating things from stores at one time. Not proud of fifteen-year-old me, but at the time, I looked at it as the best way to get review copies.
****Not surprisingly, there was a lot less bullying here. I actually did improve my writing skills here, too. And my social skills (but that's for another post). Incidentally, at least a few of my campmates from here have gone on to make money from writing (one hitting actual bestseller lists at times, even), but I suspect that most of the kids who have attended have largely dropped the writing bug, or are using writing skills in other jobs.
Pyramid was the one my brother and I played for hours, hunched together in front of our tiny green screen and making copious paper notes of compass directions. I think it's still available in some form.
And yes, I am totally with you on the greatness of the ST.
As the linked article mentions, we had a show similar to "The New York Experience", called "Where's Boston?", from about 1975 to 1988. It had three homes during that short period of time -- a tent at the Prudential Center, a theatre adjoining Quincy Market, and finally the Sack Copley Place Cinema complex.
(ETA: why do my links not show up as links when I post them as comments in your LJ? The links work but they aren't underlined or highlighted in any way, so nobody will know they are there)
Part of what I loved about the NYExperience was the atmosphere, too -- the collection of old-time pinball machines was a great thing to walk out into. I never made it to the Boston one (since I moved here long afterwards), but did find a similar one in Oxford (UK) when I spent a summer there. I suspect there are/were others, too.
And yeah, it's been nearly ten years; I should probably look into other theme choices.
Sometimes it's bizarre on that. You go searching for one thing, it's not hard to find. But, you go searching for another thing, which hasn't been more infamous than the first, you find nothing. If lucky, some Russian mp3-site of your choice at least has it. - But they also don't offer everything you're looking for.
I loved the New York Experience, it was both cheesy and cool at the same time. I went to high school a few blocks away and that and the top of the rca building was where I played hooky. I was sad to see it go.