Infocom Co-Founder, Implementor, Co-Creator of Zork, Creator of Lurking Horror November 16, 2006
  Dave Lebling
Interviewed in: Concord, MA


It was a merry day in 1950 when Dave Lebling said his first hello to the world in Washington, D.C. After his family moved he grew up in suburban Maryland and then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Being at the Buckingham Palace of computing he still might have taken a different path, hadn't one of his college advisors there, right in his freshman year, asked him how he felt about taking a programming course. Dave said yes due to a hole in his schedule, but found he actually enjoyed it.

As a matter of fact he apparently enjoyed it tremendously and it didn't take long until he wrote his own version of "Spacewar," the probably very first space-action game. Some time later he became a member of MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS), by then having a degree in political science already in his pocket.

A lot of other programs, not only games, followed. His "Maze" (later succeeded by many derivates called "MazeWars"), written in collaboration with Greg Thompson, perhaps even made him one of the fathers of 3D multiplayer first person shooters.

As Dave was in the middle of writing his own computerized "Dungeon Master" assistant for "Dungeons & Dragons," an earthquake hit him and all computer geeks on campus. And that earthquake had a name: "Adventure" (or "Colossal Cave").

At first, he and his friends at LCS were practically stunned by Adventure, something like that had never been seen before, but after a time they found flaws in it and wanted to do something like it better - just for fun.

"Just for fun" became "Zork" and Zork eventually became "Infocom" (see History).

In the beginning Dave didn't commit himself fully to the "project" Infocom, he kept close ties to MIT and later actually paid hommage to the university in "Lurking Horror" - "GUE Tech's" campus, the "infinite corridor" and many more places in the game are modeled after actual sites at the school.

It was only later that he fully engaged himself at Infocom and in the end, literally, it was him who wrote the last game ever produced at the company's original place in Cambridge, Massachusetts - "Shogun."

After Infocom's end Dave took on the more serious site of programming and worked on a GUI spreadsheet program and later joined Avid, a company working on special effects for movies and TV shows.

Currently he is employed at ucentric as a systems engineer.

1950 Dave Lebling born.
1977 Encounters Adventure.
1977 Works on Zork.
1979 Officially joins Infocom.
1982 Starcross.
1983 Enchanter.
1984 Suspect.
1985 Spellbreaker.
1987 Lurking Horror.
1989 Shogun.
1989 Leaves Infocon.
Footage Screenshots
Files and Collections
dlebling1985.jpg (9.0K) "Canonical" Infocom-Era photo of P. David Lebling (circa 1985)