History of The Quill and PAW

It all began with me playing an adventure game. I canít remember when (1981 or 1982) and I canít remember whether it was on a Sinclair ZX81 or on a Sinclair Spectrum but I think it was produced by Artic Computing.

I was aware of an article by Ken Reed in the August 1980 issue of Practical Computing that described an adventure creating program. It appeared, to me, that the Artic adventure was based on Kenís article. I thought, "I can write an adventure at least as good as this" and wrote to Artic offering my services. They didnít reply.

In 1982 I owned a Spectrum and had bought a number of Spectrum programs that had been advertised in computer magazines. Some of them were better than others. One day I noticed an advert for a program by Gilsoft in Barry. I was born in Barry and was living in Cardiff (Wales) at the time which is only about 12 miles from Barry. I phoned Gilsoft and arranged to call in and have a look at some of their programs before I bought them. (I did buy some of their programs) During the time I was with the Gilberts the conversation turned to adventure games and I subsequently agreed to write an adventure game for them to sell.

The Interpreter was written in Z80 assembler, based on Kenís article, the database was also written in assembler and the result was called Timeline. This was all done on the cassette based Spectrum and it took quite a time just to make a small change to the database.

It soon became clear that an easier way of editing the database was needed so that I could write more adventures quicker. The idea of selling this adventure writing system soon followed and The Quill was born, written entirely in Assembler. I then used it to write Magic Castle.

A C.B.M. 64 version, 6502 assembler, soon followed and this was also sold in North America as Adventure Writer by Codewriter Inc. of Chicago. I believe that Codewriter produced a French version.

Norace of Norway produced a Scandinavian version of The Quill in Norwegian, Danish and Swedish.

A Quill version was also produced for the Amstrad CPC 464.

The second generation of Quill, better known as Professional Adventure Writer (PAW), included an enhanced parser that understood adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, conjunctions and prepositions as well as verbs and nouns. It was produced in two versions. The Editor version (e.g. Spectrum) included the ability to split the screen and have pictures in the upper section and text in the lower section. The Compiler version (e.g. CP/M) compiled databases from source files and didnít have any picture capability - the compiler was written in C.

A later development of the PAW Compiler version allowed the screen to be split and for pictures to be displayed in the upper section. Each picture was a separate disk file.

PC Adventure Writer is based on the CP/M version of PAW but the Compiler and Interpreter are both written in C.