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What exactly is DAR Systems International? I hear that question a great deal. So let's start by answering that. The "DAR" is an acronym from Data Retrieval. The first product sold under this company name was called DARAD and was a fixed form database product. It was followed by DARTED which was a gradebook database for teachers. Several other database programs followed in that line.
You'd think that would be the flagship product. You'd be wrong: It's not even close. The very first product was a text-based adventure game called Mines Of Moria. This program first came out in 1980 on a computer called the TRS-80. It was originally sold by me using under my personal name. It was wildly popular, and one of the very first text-based adventure games for the newly-invented home computer. I wrote the game (in 1979 and 1980) while still in high school for my friends to play on my computer. My friends all loved it and thought it would sell. So, when the TRS-80 Sourcebook came out, I decided to plunk down $10 to advertise my game in this software catalog. My first order came from Canada. Within three months of the book's publication, orders were pouring in from around the world. I formed a company to deal with the deluge. The company was named after my not-yet-finished database program. I thought up the name DARAD while at boy scout camp where I coded most of the program on notebook paper to be typed in when I returned to civilization.
The game Mines of Moria proved so successful, I wrote a prequel called Journey Forth. Parts three and four in the series came quickly thereafter and were called: Mordor Bound and Mordor/Burzgash. A prequel to the whole series was also written. After a few years, they were all pulled off the market for slowing sales except for Mine Of Moria which continued with strong sales. To capitalize off the continuing success of Mines, I wrote a sequel called Mines Of Moria II. Not very original, but it was profitable. Between Mines parts one and two, I released Pits Of Doom, a stand alone game, that was released in both text and graphics based versions. All the games so far were released on the TRS-80 and Apple II. Then came the IBM PC, and all three games (Mines I, Mines II, and Pits) migrated to this latecomer to the home computer world. In the late 1980s another program with the same name would appear on mainframe machines around the world: it was a flattering rip-off.
Mines Of Moria continued to outsell my wildest predictions. Nothing else I wrote would come near to touching the sales of this game. In 1984, I released the first game in the new Saga Of Altair series. That game was The Gem of Zephyrr and it was well received. It was also the first game I released on the new Apple IIgs and this funny little machine nobody had heard of called Macintosh that had the cool slogan "Why 1984 won't be like 1984." Gem Of Zephyrr was the first game to be written in a language called LBASIC which Dave Parisse and myself had written together. It was a hybrid language that enabled source code written on the Apple II and IBM and Macintosh computers to be written once and compiled and run on each machine. It also spelled the end of the support of the TRS-80: tape based software had given way to something called the Floppy Disk. Gem of Zephyrr was followed by Sword of Altair, and Quest for Varsar. These three games made up the series. As the series was completed, I wrote and released a novel based on the first game in the series, and self-published it. Wouldn't you know, the City of New York used the book and computer game set in its school system until 1996 to help teach reading to kids. (I don't imagine they actually read the book prior to making that decision, because it's certainly not suited for kids.)
Besides the games, DAR Systems International issued many other products. LBASIC, mentioned earlier, was a specialized programming language that, while not very popular, was well respected by many. LYTTLE was an operating system that ran on the Apple II series, and at the time had the novel feature that it would read disks from various operating systems and had a core system not unlike UNIX. Coincidentally, it was written when I was first exposed to BSD Unix at UC Berkeley. DARCrypt was an ASCII text encrypting utility. In the mid 1980s, the company experimented with selling blank disks, hardware, other companies' software, as well as custom programming; by 1991 we had bailed out of that overly competitive market. Only our original core products (games) and custom programming carried on into the 1990s.
The company was going strong when, in 1992, I decided I was bored with programming. All products were discontinued and only in-stock product continued to ship. Two in-progress products were scrapped: Sable Powers Rising, a new adventure series was finished and only waiting to be released at the time. Project Entropy was a special adventure game with a new AI interface that actually learned over time from how people played the game. Project Entropy was in its initial stages and the few beta testers who tried it thought it was one of the best things they ever saw. Every product put out by DAR Systems International was written with pride and was top quality when issued. If you don't have the will to program, you don't do the best job you can do. And so I threw in the towel. The company still operates on paper, but has very little activity.
This is an incomplete list of people who've worked here in the past. Many of these people performed multiple tasks. For instance, Kris Medina did all the artwork for Pits of Doom as well as the cover art for many of the games.
CUSTOMER SUPPORT STAFF
This is a complete list of products that were released, in progress, or finished but not released for various reasons. Some of these programs are available for downloading from this site at no charge. Technical support may not be provided for copies that have not been purchased and registered, though we are providing limited support via e-mail on walk-throughs and the like. If you want to order the books, some are still available for purchase: try ordering them at your local bookstore or through Amazon.Com.
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DAR Systems International
This page last updated 18 May 2008 and was created 29 September