When I first started with computers, back in the early Eighties, it was with initially a Sinclair ZX81 (known as the Timex ZX81 in the US), then a Sinclair Spectrum (also badged as a Timex over the pond). My main aim for these was to learn programming and I did a bit of that. But those were halcyon days and there was a large amateur industry that grew up generating games for the new computers.
I quickly gravitated to games that were puzzles - text adventures featured highly in my software list. I'd like to see someone try to make a living out of text computer adventures today now that 3D virtual reality web-based interactive gaming is the rage. To be fair, I'm not sure I'd be up for them either, but nostalgically I have a soft spot for them in my memories.
As the computer industry matured, affordable PCs arrived. I say affordable, but of course that's a relative term. I paid £1200 for an Amstrad PC 1512 with twin floppy disk drives and no hard drive in 1989 to help me with my Open University studies. That's over $1800 at today's exchange rate. For that kind of money I reckon I could buy a pretty powerful PC or a stock Macintosh today.
Although the PCs were still very expensive in real terms, a new industry grew up. It was called Shareware and amateur programmers produced games and other software that was very competitively priced. Some of the companies that are huge today started out as Shareware programmers. However I suspect most peaked at about this time, when software was simple enough for one guy to write and complex enough to make it worth buying. Hardly anything from that era has survived as a commercial prospect, such is the rate of change.
There was one program that I bought way back then, not Shareware but similar in that it was produced by a one man band and sold at a modest price. Like most of the leisure software I've enjoyed over the years, it was a game that stretched my braincells. It was, and is, called Sherlock, and it has recently been ported over to Android and iOS platforms. The brains behind it is a guy named Everett Kaser. I don't know a whole lot about Everett - Wikipewdia doesn't seem to know much about him either - but anyone who has taken the time to read his notes or has received his newsletters will realise he has a wicked sense of humour. He's also almost pathological about logical paths. Sherlock is almost certainly his finest hour. So, what is it?
It's a game where 6 people, 6 coloured houses, 6 numbers (1-6 inclusive, who'd have thought?), 6 fruit, 6 road signs and 6 letters (H, O, L, M, E & S) are arranged in a unique way. At the start of the puzzle one or two of the items (people, houses etc) are revealed, although not always. Some puzzles start with no pieces in their resting places.
Then, below the playing area are a series of visual clues. Have a look at this screenshot from the Everett Kaser website:
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