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Patenaude bought the phone on eBay for about $15 and installed an inexpensive C.H.I.P. board, which is a modular computer similar to a Raspberry Pi. It has no screen; to play Zork and other text games, the player speaks commands into the handset and listens for the computer’s synthesized response.
In honor of an iconic Zork villain, he calls it Dial-A-Grue.
“This is very much a project of whimsy rather than a useful tool,” Patenaude said. “But it’s also a project of nostalgia, because I played these games as a kid, and I wanted a way to play them in a new way.”
“There is a small mailbox here. What would you like to do?”
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