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DOS - 1984

Also available on: Amiga - Mac - Apple II

Alt name
A conversation with Racter
Released in
United States
Interactive Fiction, Meditative / Zen
Mindscape, Inc.
Inrac Corporation
Dosbox support
Supported on 0.61
4 / 5 - 9 votes

Description of Racter

Not really an interactive fiction game but rather one of the most intriguing piece of software ever created, Racter is one of the earliest commercial releases of computer intelligence-- AI gibberish, so to speak, but interesting nonetheless.

The program is a more fully developed version of Eliza, a psychologist-cum-machine program that was popular in the early days of PC computing. Similarly, anyone who has played around with Dr. Sbaitso, the talking parrot program shipped with the first SoundBlaster card will be on familiar ground: Racter is basically a computer personality that communicates via a text parser. So how does Racter create the illusion of intelligence? MobyGames description tell it all:

Racter strings together words according to "syntax directives", and the illusion of coherence is increased by repeated re-use of text variables. This gives the appearance that Racter can actually have a conversation with the user that makes some sense, unlike Eliza, which just spits back what you type at it. Of course, such a program has not been written to perfection yet, but Racter comes somewhat close.

Since some of the syntactical mistakes that Racter tends to make cannot be avoided, the decision was made to market the game in a humorous vein, which the marketing department at Mindscape dubbed "tongue-in-chip software" and "artificial insanity". Not a true "AI" by any stretch of the word, but a unique program that is well worth a look as an indication of where the field of artificial intelligence was heading in 1984.

According to the Racter FAQ, co-designer William Chamberlain even released a book called "The Policeman's Beard is Half Constructed" (Warner Books, NY. 0-446-38051-2, paper $9.95) before the release of the program, the authorship of which he attributed solely to Racter. It's been long out of print, but if you are interested in what a computer-written book reads like, try placing an order on Amazon.

Review By HOTUD

Captures and Snapshots

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Comments and reviews

tony 2015-05-15 0 point DOS version

there was a book of stories by racter....i bought it after seeing a conversation between eliza and racter which had me in tears

Lottie 2013-07-11 0 point DOS version

How about Elisa? Anyone here, more than me, that remember her??

A Wise Old Man 2013-02-19 0 point DOS version

This was a swipe of a mainframe program written in FORTRAN that went under numerous names like "PSYCH", "DOCTOR", "SHRINK" , etc.

CthulhuTheArmadillo 2012-06-18 0 point DOS version

Haha, I love this. Just type in "Tell me a story" for instant fun!

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