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Scott Adams papers

 Collection — Box: 1-4
Identifier: 117.2818
The Scott Adams papers are a compilation of professional and personal papers, including Adams’ time as the head of Adventure International. This collection contains game development documentation, product catalogs, fliers, correspondence, software publishing agreements, publicity clippings, awards, and more. The bulk of the materials are dated between 1978 and 1987. Additional scope and content information can be found in the Contents List section of this finding aid.

The Scott Adams papers are arranged into two series, one of which has been further divided into subseries. The collection is housed in four archival document boxes.


  • 1970 - 2015
  • Majority of material found within 1978 - 1987



The materials in this collection are primarily in English. There are some instances of German; these are denoted in the Contents List section of this finding aid.

Conditions Governing Access

Due to the nature of the printed source code on perforated, connected printer paper, reference scans of these pages may only be available at the discretion of the library staff. On-site access is freely available.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donor has not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, he has given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.


4.2 Linear Feet (4 boxes)


The Scott Adams papers are a compilation of printed source code, notes, correspondence, publicity materials, and personal papers relating to Scott Adams or his software company, Adventure International. The bulk of the materials are from 1978-1987.

Biographical Note

Mitchell Scott Adams (known in the games industry as Scott Adams) grew up in Miami, Florida. He became fascinated with computers after seeing a room-sized mainframe during an elementary school field trip. While in high school, Adams arrived to school earlier than the teachers and stayed late so that he could use his school’s computer terminal. Adams attended the Florida Institute of Technology, graduating in 1975. Inspired by Will Crowther and Don Woods’s mainframe text-based computer game, Colossal Cave Adventure (1976-1977), Adams developed his first adventure game, Adventureland—which ultimately became the first commercially available text-based adventure for a home computer.

By 1978, Adams established Adventure International as a software publishing company alongside his then-wife Alexis. Initially, Adams’s Adventureland games were loose cassette tapes, copied one-by-one on his TRS-80 and sold without any product packaging. After a Chicago-area Radio Shack owner told Adams that he could sell more games if the products came in retail packaging, Adams found a low-cost solution; he placed the cassette games into baby bottle liners and stapled a folded business card over the top to seal them. (Later packaging resembled book covers and featured a range of artwork.) Adventure International grew into a prolific software house and is credited with kick-starting the third-party software industry.

Adams authored more than a dozen interactive fiction titles, and he contacted Marvel Comics in the mid-1980s to see if they would be interested in licensing any characters for computer games. After establishing a partnership, Adams wrote the Questprobe comics series while Marvel artists drew the illustrations. The first Marvel tie-in adventure game, Questprobe featuring The Hulk, was released in 1984, followed up with Questprobe featuring Spider-Man (1984) and Questprobe featuring The Human Torch and The Thing (1985).

As the videogame and home computer game markets experienced a downturn in the mid-1980s, Adventure International closed in 1985. Adams continued his career as a programmer, and in 2013, released his latest text-adventure game called The Inheritance. As of 2018, Scott Adams and his wife Roxanne Adams run an adventure and puzzle game company called Clopas.

System of Arrangement

Series I: Professional papers, 1970-2014

Subseries A: Game development documentation, 1970-1985
Subseries B: Adventure International product catalogs and fliers, 1978-1984
Subseries C: Correspondence and agreements, 1975-1987
Subseries D: Publicity and awards, 1979-2014

Series II: Personal papers, 1970-2015

Custodial History

The Scott Adams papers were donated to The Strong in April 2017 as a gift of Scott and Roxanne Adams. The papers were accessioned by The Strong under Object ID 117.2818 and were received in three boxes, along with associated museum objects and library materials.

Processed by

Julia Novakovic, November 2017
Finding Aid to the Scott Adams Papers, 1970-2015
Julia Novakovic
6 February 2018
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong Repository

The Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester NY 14607 USA
585.423.1886 (Fax)