Leisuresuit Larry 4/28/23

Memories with Richard Bleil

Between the days of text adventure games like Oregon Trail and graphics driven games like Castle Wolfenstein, there came Leisuresuit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards.  It came on a 5 ½” floppy disc (or two) and was basically a graphic enhanced text adventure.  The graphics were poor at best, but like the whole game, they were quite humorous.  The goal was to get Leisuresuit Larry to have sex, which actually he does early in the game but it doesn’t count because he had to pay for it.  As an example of the kind of humor in the game, if you failed to get Larry the correct protection, he would get a venereal disease and die, with a message saying something like, “we know it’s not actually fatal, but once you have it, what’s the point of living?”

A few years before I purchased my own copy for my fancy schmancy IBM PC with the amber monochrome monitor (which I actually miss because the colors were very cool), my dad was paid to play the game.  He was working for a tech company and considered to be one of the “old farts”, a term I use because the phrase I really want to use starts with “mother” and is oh so very offensive.  Eventually he would be offered a proverbial “golden parachute” and take it, but at the time, the company was transitioning to high tech for the day but laughable today computers.  They had to find a way to get the old fart brigade to use these new fangled devices, and what better way than to pay them to play a game that would pander to their baser humor level?

Yes, my dad was literally paid to play Leisuresuit Larry.  It was just a way to get them to turn on the computer and log in, but I honestly have no idea if the experiment actually worked since they did a clean sweep of the old farts shortly thereafter.  I’ve been looking for the game but have been unable to find it which is odd because most old games are available somewhere in a classic game collection, but there is a sequel today.  I downloaded it on my phone, but either it changed far too much or I did because it’s frankly kind of boring. 

This morning, my friend called.  I had yet to brush me teeth, and made the comment that my breath smelled like the back floor of a New York City cab.  That line actually was frequently uttered in the game and meant that it was time to use the breath spray, but because I used it, I started reminiscing of the game. 

Computer technology has come a long way since then.  Back when I was in graduate school, I had a research account on the national Cray supercomputer who, frankly, I think was cheating, but in my favor.  I was granted a certain number of CPU hours but, somehow, I never could use all of them.  It seemed that they stopped counting as I wound down near the end of my time.  Anyway, they offered an alternative at the center.  Although the Cray (serial number 0003, the first commercially made supercomputer) was indeed the fastest computer available at the time, it also was serving many researchers.  As such, they offered their “cluster”.

The cluster was about thirty Digital (that’s the company name, not the type as all computers are digital) computers that had been outdated and discarded.  The computer engineers at the center linked them all together, and forced them to run as if they were a single multiple processor system.  There was a control computer that would distribute the programs to the myriad of other computers so each one worked in parallel on different parts of the program.  This “cluster” ran about as fast as the Cray, and often faster because most people insisted on using the Cray because it was more prestigious.  In this beast of a computer that I built myself that I call Shirley, I came to realize that this massive parallel CPU processing has been built into a single chip.  The newest processor actually acts as if it is many processors (is it fifteen?) all acting in parallel.  This is how, in fact, I am running ten different quantum calculations simultaneously.  The tasks are split up in the central CPU, and even with that I’m only using about a quarter of the actual available CPU power. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.