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The Etymology of Zork

MIT researcher Nick Montfort is digging into the origins of the word "Zork," the name of the seminal text adventure game that started Infocom and, in turn, the rest of the Boston game industry.

It seems reasonable to pursue this question, and reasonable that there would be some discernable answer. After all, there's a whole official document, RFC 3092, explaining the etymology of "foobar." It could be interesting to know what sort of nonsense word "zork" is, since it's quite a different thing, with very different resonances, to borrow a "nonsense" term from Edward Lear or Lewis Carroll as opposed to Hugo Ball or Tristan Tzara. "Zork," of course, doesn't seem to derive from either humorous English nonsense poetry or Dada; the possibilities for its origins are more complex.

Spoiler alert: Nick doesn't arrive a specific conclusion as to the source of the word "Zork", but his detective work is fascinating to read. His article also links to Peter Samson's 1959 TMRC dictionary, a treasure trove of early hacker slang.

Link: A Note on the Word "Zork"

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