Authoring Systems & the Art They Wrought

  • Rob Swigart's Portal
  • Programmed in Assembly
  • 1986

Portal is a text-adventure mystery game published by Activision in 1986 to much acclaim. Influenced by Cyberpunk novels of the mid-1980s and the trope of internet consciousness, Swigart envisions the computer screen is a kind of doorway—a portal—into a different fictional world. The portal in Portal leads to the 11th dimension where all the Earthlings have gone. Collaborating with the AI "HOMER," players gain knowledge about humanity's disappearance to bring them back. His 1988 novel, Portal: A Dataspace Retrieval, fleshes out the story. The book is also featured in the exhibition in the "Treasured Artifacts" on display in the glass table.