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Sierra On-line

Begun as On-line Systems, Sierra was formed by Ken and Roberta Williams in Oakhurst, California, an unincorporated town just 12 miles south of Yosemite National Park. They moved to Oakhurst because it was a good place to raise a child, and to pursue Roberta's idea for a computer game which involved graphics to go with the then traditional room-based text adventure. This genre eventually developed into an interactive movie genre which did rather well until the mid-1990s. It is arguable that Sierra's particular history is more involved with the demise of this genre than a lack of market, though most attribute its decline to the advent of the first-person shooter.

Sierra went on a game company "shopping spree" during the '90s, buying Dynamix[?], Bright Star[?] and Blizzard, and launching network-oriented startups like The Sierra Network[?] (1991).

Sierra eventually had trouble attracting top executive talent to Oakhurst and relocated its headquarters to Seattle, Washington. They were bought out by CUC[?], a growth corporation that had run a large mail order and discount merchandising business. Shortly thereafter criminal proceedings against CUC CEOs caused a huge crash in the stock price and a lot of old Sierra employees got hurt by the sale. Sierra was later purchased by Havas Entertainment[?] and underwent a series of purges and layoffs (Ken and Roberta were kicked out years ago) such that most old-time employees consider Sierra nothing but a brand.



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