By  |  Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 9:27 am

I didn’t own an IBM PC or clone in the early days, so I missed out on the wonder of DONKEY.BAS, which came bundled with early versions of MS-DOS and was the first PC game. In fact, I don’t think I knew about it until I read Benj Edwards’ slideshow on operating-system games, which pointed out that it was cowritten by Bill Gates himself.

But now I can relive the magic for the first time, thanks to a new version of DONKEY.BAS for iOS. It’s 99 cents, is compatible with Game Center, and includes both iPhone and iPad versions. It seems to be a faithful rendition of the original, complete with blocky graphics and bloopy sound effects, and the same objective: Drive down road, avoid hitting donkeys. And it’s um, just as fun as it must have been back in 1981.

The new version is by Johnny Ixe; I’d love to think that’s a pseudonym for William H. Gates III. Probably not, though, so let’s hope that Microsoft doesn’t issue a takedown notice….


Read more: , , ,

6 Comments For This Post

  1. Bill Pytlovany Says:

    If Bill was really that smart he would have realized that on a road track having larger front wheels would be important. His car is more appropriate for the drag strip not a road race. I guess he didn't have a proper beta test or proper user review before publication.

    Annoys me when donkey killing software isn't realistic.


  2. AlefSin Says:

    Oh, how cute. The free bonus game that everybody got for free with purchase of a PC 30 years ago is now sold for $1. Such joy!

  3. AlanG Says:

    Probably a royalty payment to Microsoft.

  4. Ed Oswald Says:

    Hm i was 2 when this came out. I didn't even hear of it till you posted this, Harry. Sorry to make you feel old 🙂

  5. RJP Says:

    I was not born when this came out but I heard of it.
    Sorry to make you feel stupid 🙂

  6. Lee Says:

    IIRC, DONKEY.BAS was included only in the IBM version of DOS until v3.3. There were about 10 demo programs included that ran under the BASIC interpreter, including some primitive yet useful business apps. All of them were called "The IBM Personal Computer _______", so the DONKEY.BAS splash screen said "The IBM Personal Computer Donkey". I continued copying the old BASIC programs to more recent versions of DOS and Windows which would still run them.