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EFF Fighting Blackjack Patent :

The past month or two I’ve received e-mails from law students working on various EFF patent busting cases. The first one was dealing with a computerised version of Solitaire granted in 1995, which is completely absurd as I shipped at least three solitaire games in the very early 1980’s for the Acorn Atom and ZX 81. I even have an old code listing from a magazine that is dated 1981. Thomas Warfield, author of Pretty Good Solitaire has more information and a better perspective on the details.

The latest patent is regarding the game of blackjack, specifically blackjack played online. This one was granted in 1997 but the EFF is seeking examples since before January 1995.

Tricky. I didn’t work on any online blackjack games until the end of 1995.

However, I do remember playing blackjack with a group of friends in real-time on various bulletin board systems spread all over the place. These blackjack games were homed on either single BBS servers with multiple telephone lines or multiple servers connected via regular old dial up modem in the pre-Internet days.

I’m sure that some of the students enquiring about online blackjack have performed many fruitless Google searches looking for details. But the information is all there, you just gotta know how to say it.

Just ask about “BBS Doors” and watch Google throw back thousands of hits on various blackjack BBS doors going as far back as the Tandy TRS-80 and Commodore 64.

If you want to stretch the definition of “online” all the way to the boundaries of its actual meaning you can even include “online” blackjack for the PDP-10 & PDP-11, the Perkin Elmer mini computer running UNIX and many other mini-computer & mainframe variants. I understand that the PDP-11 version dates from around 1973.


Just absurd.

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