I'm looking to find the name of a (purportedly) educational Mac game I purchased from a book fair handout around 1990–91.

The concept was that you would make up the rules to your own board game on a tic-tac-toe like grid. The computer would then play against you, and you told it who won. It would then use that information to try to infer the rules of the game and improve its play on the next round.

A similar program existed on the Apple II. The Mac version is likely a derivative. – @AlexHajnal

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    Which of the games in the handout did you purchase? Isn't it listed in the handout? Your inclusion of the photo is a little bit confusing. Commented May 17, 2019 at 10:48
  • @Greenonline The handouts are post-2003, probably 2010; it almost certainly isn't relevant. Additionally, the image is from Buzzfeed.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 14:26
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not only because it's rather unclear (and seamingly not in any way RC), but also way more suited for Ask Different, the Apple/Mac cenetric SE site.
    – Raffzahn
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 14:38
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    The game was purchased circa 1990. Only included the image to make it clear what a “book fair handout” was. Not that it was included in the image. Sorry for the confusion.
    – arsenius
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 12:17
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1 Answer 1


The game is almost certainly A.I.: An Experience with Artificial Intelligence from Scholastic (the ubiquitous US educational publisher). It was originally released in 1987 for the Apple II and was later ported to MS-DOS and, with enhancements, the Macintosh.

The game is played by placing pieces onto a grid. The human player decides ahead of time what the winning state of the board is. The player and the computer then take turns placing pieces. By observing the game and asking the player questions the computer teaches itself the rules. Over the course of a few games the computer will become quite good at playing.

The program allowed the player to 'look under the hood' and see what heuristics the computer has taught itself. In addition, a player could add their own heuristics. There's lots more info in the manual.

Here's a page from a 1992 Scholastic software catalog:

Catalog page for the program Source: Vintage Apple

  • It's been 2 years since I asked this question, and years prior that I had been trying to figure out what this was. Thank you!
    – arsenius
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 5:47
  • @arsenius Never saw the Mac version but I clearly remember playing it on the Apple II. I still think the cover art is really creepy though… Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 6:08
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    Your scan here is the only mention I've been able to find so far of a mac version, but that's what we had. We never owned an apple II or PC. I also primarily remember the cover art. I also remember struggling to make up consistent game rules, but I was a bit younger than the recommended 6th grade.
    – arsenius
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 23:51

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