Wednesday, March 28, 2012

History of computers in Iraq

A full explanation after the jump.

I should check the comments section of each entry more often, since some popular entries continue to be found by readers long after they've fallen off the page. Which I suppose is the inherent problem with blogs. This gem was posted in my previous Videogames of Egypt entry, in August 2011, by a gentleman named Salwan Asaad. He gives a fascinating insight into the early computer game scene in Iraq. I've edited the text slightly for clarity, and I'm reposting it because it's quite a valuable piece of insight. The world isn't at its best right now, but heartfelt recollections like these prove to me that really, deep down, young people all over the world are the same. Many thanks to Mr Asaad for sharing this.

If you're interested in reading more about Games of the World, check out HG101's dedicated section on them. I haven't updated it since it January 2011, but there's still plenty of good content there.

Salwan Aug 18, 2011 06:40 AM

I'm a game developer, originally from Iraq, and now living in Egypt. The gaming situation in Iraq was very identical to what you found in Egypt until around 2005, when things changed in favour of PS2/XBOX and then XBOX360, all modded of course.

However, that's not what I wanted to talk about... You asked how the gaming community looked like in the 1980s and 1990s. Surprisingly, back then, although rarely found, it wasn't much different compared to western countries, perhaps because counterfeiting was at a much lower rate (I personally hadn't seen even one bootlegged console until the mid-1990s) and the economic situation was better.

What we had was more of a real home computing community back then, with meetings, contests, books, and the whole deal. Several computer models were produced in Iraq and the Gulf, mostly based on Japanese models. We had Arabic-supporting NEC PC-6001, PC-6002, and other models, it was called 'Al Warkaa'. We exchanged games via 3.5" floppy disks and sometimes used tape drives. I was one of the Al Warkaa guys.

The Gulf-based Al Alamiah produced MSX home computers. Of which the MSX Sakhr 170 was the absolute most famous, games circulated via MSX cartridges and a big community around it, and I've seen 2.5" floppy discs used. There was a constant contest between the Al Warkaa community and Sakhr 170 community in Iraq to prove which is the better computer (they are both identical from a hardware level). This included a national contest that each group tried to win, involving making games and demos.

Another company, Najm computers, produced Atari home computers. But I only saw a few around, and no real community for it in Iraq. I found this rare picture online:

This is pretty much the only model I've seen back then.

Man... Much lost gaming history.


  1. Young people are the same all around the globe. Period. Not deep down, but also on the surface. Why keep believing in differentiations? A country is just a line constructed by marketholders to define their buyers. Of course, the cultures are different, but countries are not cultures, even when made around one, they're just stupid fences between us.

    1. Boundries created to keep us separate, even though we very similar. I'm glad there are gamers just like us only separated by fictional lines in the sand. It seems that gen X and Y as well as some of Z, are not in te war mentality the world/global elites want from us. Whatever happens im proud to be different just like Arwad Asaad. Gamers are gamers no matter where in the world they may be.

    2. Long live gamers and free minds

  2. i miss the old good time where gaming where fun ...i'm really sad for iraq how is now today a broken state

  3. great, looks
    all bought via english man lives in egypt

  4. Do you have contact information for Salwan Assad? I'm a games developer working at the United States Institute of Peace. I'm trying to learn more about the Iraqi gaming scene - sounds like he would be an excellent contact.