(Softalk Reader’s Poll)  [1]

The Top Thirty:

  1. Raster Blaster by Budge, BudgeCo; arcade. “First realistic pinball game. Softalk readers’ Most Popular Program of 1981.”
  2. Castle Wolfenstein by Warner, Muse; strategy game. “First game to fuse successfully strategy, home-arcade, fantasy. Escape from Nazi stronghold with secret plans. Room layout changes with each new game. Enemy speaks (in German).”
  3. Apple Panic by Serki, Broderbund; arcade. “Rid a five story building of crawling apples and butterflies by running up and down connecting ladders, digging traps, then covering critters before they devour you. Extremely addictive, excellent hi-res play.” This was my first Apple game, and I can agree with the description. One “feature” that would probably not appear today was allowing control of the game only via the keyboard, rather than making use of a joystick.
  4. Olympic Decathlon by Smith, Microsoft; arcade. “Ten standard decathlon events. Hi-res animated athletes, muscle-stirring music; you provide the sweat.”
  5. Gorgon by Nasir, Sirius Software; arcade. “Fly over planet shooting and dodging invaders and saving kidnapped inhabitants. Outstanding hi-res graphics, challenging refueling sequence.” Played like the arcade game, “Defender”.
  6. Alien Rain by Suzuki, Broderbund; arcade. “Monsters in this home-arcade classic seem to take it personally when you gun down one of their kind.” The original name of this game was actually Apple Galaxian, but both the company that produced the arcade game “Galaxian” and Apple Computer objected to their name being used in the title of this game, so Broderbund was obligated to change it to something else. This became quite typical for computer translations of arcade games; even if it looked and acted much like a particular arcade game, it was unlikely that the game’s arcade name would appear on the personal computer version, unless it was an “authorized” version.
  7. Wizardry by Greenberg & Woodhead, Sir-Tech; fantasy. “Ultimate role-playing fantasy; ten-level maze in hi-res. Generate 20 characters, 6 at a time on expeditions. Gripping game; superbly reproduced.”
  8. DOS 3.3 by Apple Computer; operating system.
  9. Space Eggs by Nasir, Sirius Software; arcade.
  10. Sneakers by Turmell, Sirius Software; arcade. “Many-layered shooting game; one of the best. Stomping sneakers and other creatures requires varying techniques. Fun.”
  11. Ultima by British, California Pacific; fantasy. “Hi-res color adventure, progressing from Middle Ages to beyond the space age. A masterpiece.”
  12. Snoggle by Wada, Broderbund; arcade.
  13. DOS Tool Kit by Apple Computer; utility.
  14. DB Master by Stone, Stoneware; database. “Comprehensive database-management system with password protection, extensive report creation options. 1,000 characters per record.” The most comprehensive database program ever released for the Apple II, it survived through various versions up until 1991, when it was finally discontinued. It was eventually available in a Shareware form (DB Master Version 5) and a commercial version (DB Master Pro).
  15. Personal Filing System (PFS) by Page, Software Publishing Corporation; database. “User controls data in totally unstructured database. Up to thirty-two pages (screens) of information in each record.” Later renamed PFS: File, the IIe version supported 80-columns, upper/lowercase. Written in Pascal.
  16. Pool 1.5 by Hoffman, Germain & Morock; Innovative Design Software (IDSI); arcade. “Makes most shots you could on a real pool table, with advantages of instant replay and slow motion. Four different games, also offers a higher or lower friction mode.” This game was great; with the low friction mode you could almost clear the table on the first shot, as the balls would continue to rebound until they finally slowed to a stop or fell into the pockets.
  17. Sabotage by Allen, On-Line Systems; arcade.
  18. Zork by Blank & Liebling, Infocom; adventure. “Part one of mainframe adventure; understands complete compound sentences and questions. Simultaneous manipulation of objects. Text.” This games accepted far more complex commands than most adventure games of the time. Instead of just “Get knife”, Zork understood commands like “Get gold knife from stone table”, and later Infocom games could even handle sentences such as, “Say to elf, ‘Don’t crush that dwarf'”.
  19. Magic Window by Shannon & Depew, Artsci; word processor.
  20. Robot War by Warner, Muse; strategy. “Strategy game with battling robots is great teaching device for programming.” This game allowed creating your own robot with its simple program that determined how it fought. In some parts of the country, Robot War aficionados had tournaments pitting one person’s robot-program against another. It gave experience in simple artificial intelligence programming.
  21. Locksmith by Omega Microware; utility. Used for duplicating copy-protected software.
  22. Gobbler by Lubeck, On-Line Systems; arcade.
  23. Falcons by Varsanyi & Ball, Piccadilly Software; arcade.
  24. ABM by Warner, Muse; arcade. “Missle Command” clone.
  25. Epoch by Miller, Sirius Software; arcade.
  26. Asteroid Field by Nitchals, Cavalier Software; arcade.
  27. Threshold by Schwader & Williams, On-Line Systems; arcade.
  28. WordStar by MicroPro; word processor.
  29. Hi-Res Adventure #3: Cranston Manor by DeWitz & Williams, On-Line Systems; adventure.
  30. SuperScribe II by Kidwell, On-Line Systems; word processor.

Adventure 5:

  1. Zork by Blank & Liebling, Infocom.
  2. Hi-Res Adventure #3: Cranston Manor by DeWitz & Williams, On-Line Systems.
  3. The Prisoner by Mullich, Edu-Ware. “Superb TV series captured in computer game. Escape from an island requires player to solve logical puzzles, overcome obstacles, and answer riddles.”
  4. Zork II by Blank & Liebling, Infocom. “Zork comes into its own. Great text adventure technique and communication.”
  5. Hi-Res Adventure #0: Mission: Asteroid by Williams & Williams, On-Line Systems.

Business 10:

  1. DB Master by Stone, Stoneware.
  2. Personal Filing System (PFS) by Page, Software Publishing Corporation.
  3. VisiTrend/VisiPlot by Micro Finance Systems/Kapor, Personal Software. The author went on to write Lotus 1-2-3 for the IBM PC, and later bought out the rights to VisiCalc to ensure domination of the market.
  4. BPI General Ledger by Moss & Debower, Apple Computer.
  5. VisiDex by Jennings, Personal Software.
  6. VisiPlot by Micro Finance Systems/Kapor, Personal Software.
  7. BPI Accounts Receivable by Moss & Debower, Apple Computer.
  8. Data Reporter by Clardy, Anson & Branham, Synergistic Software.
  9. PFS: Report by Page, Software Publishing Corporation. Report module for Personal Filing System.
  10. Datadex by Information Unlimited Software.

Fantasy 5:

  1. Wizardry by Greenberg & Woodhead, Sir-Tech.
  2. Ultima by British, California Pacific.
  3. Hellfire Warrior by Automated Simulations.
  4. Akalabeth by British, California Pacific. A predecessor to Ultima’s dungeons, its only purpose was to allow you to descend into a dungeon, fight monsters, and make your way through the maze.
  5. Dragon Fire by Nelson, Dakin5/Level-10.

Hobby 10:

  1. DOS 3.3 by Apple Computer.
  2. DOS Tool Kit by Apple Computer. “Excellent utility package; Apple II assembler-editor system and Applesoft tool kit. Edit, assemble machine language programs; write, edit BASIC programs. Simplifies graphics, includes character generator.
  3. Locksmith by Omega Microware.
  4. The Inspector by Omega Microware. Disk sector editing utility, interfaced with Locksmith. Inspector was even available as a plug-in chip for the empty ROM socket on the Apple II.
  5. DOS Boss by Kersey & Cassidy, Beagle Bros.
  6. Multi-Disk Catalog by Hartley, Sensible Software.
  7. Expediter II by Einstein & Goodrow, On-Line Systems. Applesoft complier.
  8. E-Z Draw by Jewell & Nasir, Sirius Software.
  9. Complete Graphics System by Pelczarski, Penguin Software.
  10. TASC by Peak & Howard, Microsoft; Applesoft compiler.

Home 10:

  1. Data Capture 4.0 by Hughes & McClelland, Southeastern Software. “Copyable, modifiable smart terminal program; compatible with Apple III and most lower-case adapters.” Written in Applesoft with machine language extensions.
  2. Graphtrix by Boker, Data Transforms. “Matrix graphics system designed to add graphics, footnotes, and chapter capabilities to Apple Writer text editing system.”
  3. ASCII Express by Blue, Southwestern Data Systems. “Modem software provides automatic redial, individual macro files, and improved file transfer capabilities. Sends any DOS file; uploads one character or one line at a time. Included utilities convert Integer BASIC, Applesoft, or binary programs into text files.”
  4. Z-Term by Blue, Southwestern Data Systems. “Flexible, customizable communications software written specifically for the CP/M Apple. A quality package.
  5. The World’s Greatest Blackjack Program by Special Delivery Software/Apple Computer.
  6. MasterType by Zweig, Lightning Software. “Learn to type by playing a game; simple and ingenious. IIe version teaches new keyboard.” The new keyboard refers to the full keyboard on the IIe. Later, when the IIc appeared on the scene, the game was updated to teach typing on the optional Dvorak keyboard layout. The scenario used here involved a wizard standing on a planet with satellites or space ships slowly approaching from four directions. Each object had a word on it; you had to type the word and press the space bar to fire a “zap” at the object. If it got too close, you had to type the word twice. The IIc version used double hi-res graphics, and both versions allowed the user to set up a personal vocabulary on which to practice.
  7. Goodspell by Baker, Special Delivery Software/Apple Computer. “Dictionary companion to Apple Writer with 14,000 words. Flags words not listed when printing out.” That is, it prints out words not in the dictionary.
  8. Personal Finance Manager by Gold, Special Delivery Software/Apple Computer.
  9. VisiTerm by Keith, Personal Software.
  10. Home Money Minder by Schoenburg & Pollack, Continental Software.

Strategy 5:

  1. Castle Wolfenstein by Warner, Muse.
  2. Robot War by Warner, Muse.
  3. Warp Factor by Murray & Clayton, Strategic Simulations.
  4. Hi-Res Football by Sullivan & Williams, On-Line Systems.
  5. Computer Baseball by Merrow & Avery, Strategic Simulations. “Simulates individual player abilities from the teams of 13 famous World Series. Enter and play teams of your own creation.”

Word Processors 5:

  1. Magic Window by Shannon & Depew, Artsci.
  2. WordStar by MicroPro; CP/M based.
  3. Superscribe II by Kidwell, On-Line Systems.
  4. Executive Secretary by Sof/Sys.
  5. The Correspondent by Wagner, Southwestern Data Systems.


  1. [1]—–. “The Most Popular Program of 1981: RASTER BLASTER!”, Softalk, Apr 1982: 163-167.

9 Comments on “1981

  1. I was wondering if anyone has heard of the 1980’s childrens school game called Piccadilly Pear or something like that… Have been searching and searching about it and cant find anything on it? Please help if you know what game im talking about.

  2. I remember this game. It was a matching game, right? I spent hours in the computer lab playing this. No luck finding it on the net though… Would love to know if you’ve dug anything up!

    • I remember the game being called Piccadilly Squares, but no luck finding it

      • Well, after reading everyone else’s response, I found this; apparently it was Pick-a-dilly Pairs:

  3. Hi there, I remember this game too it used to be on the schools computer. Large floppy disk. I would love to find it too.

  4. My grandfather was involved with making that game. That and a racing one: Race Car Classic. He designed all graphics, sound, animation, etc. Movement and sound together were pretty new then. I used to play both games for hours. Piccadilly Pear is the first color game I can remember playing. I recently asked if they still have copies of it at their home and my grandmother said they do, new in boxes. I wanted to look into finding a way to play it. 🙂 My grandfather turned 85 yesterday – he still works almost full time. I see this post was a long time ago… but thought I’d answer anyhow.

  5. I feel like Jawbreaker is missing from the list https://rawg.io/games/jawbreaker It might be a Pac-Man rip-off but it was a good rip-off!
    Also, the Pac-Man itself might be included to the list too. I might be wrong, but it probably was released for Apple II in the beginning of 1981 too.

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