In 1989, Janusz Pelc wrote the game Robbo on an 8-bit Atari, one of the first personal computers, which enjoyed a cult-like status in Poland before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Robbo, a small robot, collects screws and has to get through 56 planets. The game has achieved cult status, spawning hundreds of remixes and modifications. Beginning in the 1980s, fans (once mainly young boys, today adult men) played this game, collecting screws and running away from enemies such as bats, flying eyes, devils etc., while drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, eating crisps and telling jokes. One of the places where you play Robbo are the so-called demoparties, which gather computer geeks, technology nerds and fans of old computers. They are the heroes of Robbo. Walkthrough (2018), the first computer generated book published in Polish as Robbo. Solucja.

The game’s basis is a text generator with soundtrack, made using technology original to the Atari. The concept and text was created by Piotr Marecki. The project was presented as part of the wild compo during the demoparty Silly Venture 2017 in Gdańsk. The program lasts 56 minutes and generates walkthrough for the 56 individual planets. However, it is looped, so it generates an inexhaustible amount of solutions, one of which contains a published book. All of the elements of the work – text, music, code, composition, as well as graphics – were created by Polish Atari enthusiasts. It premiered at the Atari-themed party and are being distributed among retro computers enthusiasts.

While Robbo generator can be regarded simply as an entertainment or a joke, its authors believe that it also comments critically and playfully on computational obsolescence. The practice of returning to the discarded and dead (or “zombie”) media, in this case the Atari computer, is one challenge to the seeming inevitability of technological acceleration. This essay describes the history and making of Robbo. Walkthrough and provides a critical commentary on the value of “zombie” computing.