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August 30, 2015

The truth on how Futurama's Zoidberg got his name

by Richard Keller, posted Dec 20th 2007 8:40AM

Dr. Zoidberg got his name from a 24-year-old video game

Names are bestowed on people in many ways. Sometimes a name of a favorite relative or famous ancestor is given. Other times the provided name comes from a Hollywood star that you may adore. Then, there are times that a person's name comes from a Apple II video game that was completely coded in Assembly Language.

The last one is how Futurama's downtrodden, but lovable, Dr. Zoidberg got his name. The second one mentioned is the reason I named my son Mr. T Alf Keller.

Gallery: Futurama

BenderBender's Big ScorePhillip J. FryFry, Leela, and BenderFuturama TitleLeelaLeela and Fry on a scooterDr. John A. ZoidbergZoidberg sketchesZoidberg and the Professor

The game is called Zoid and it was coded by Futurama co-creator, and previously ardent arcade gamer, David X. Cohen. You probably can't recall the game because it never made it to mass market. After spending two years writing code, Cohen's game was rejected by the software company Broderbund, which was one of the hottest names for computer games at that time. Don't you think the company is smacking itself in the collective head right now for missing this opportunity? They could have re-released Zoid under the name Zoid, Created by Futurama's David X. Cohen and made a small mint. Dr. Zoidberg could have even made a cameo appearance in the game.

So why, after so many years, did Zoid resurface in Cohen's brain and become the impetus for Zoidberg? Well, according to an article over at Wired, plans were already in the works for a Star Trek-like, "Bones" McCoy type of character who would be forced to treat humans without any previous knowledge of their anatomy. The name of this character came to David while watching a space shuttle launch with Futurama's other co-creator Matt Groening.

By the way, Cohen still has a 5.25-inch floppy disk that contains a copy of Zoid. It has been extensively protected with a pin that was pushed through the unused portion of the disk. He is looking for someone who would be interested in taking the disk and dumping its ROM so he could play the game on an Apple II emulator. And, who knows, there may be a copy of the newest Futurama DVD in it for you.

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Richard Keller

The picture was changed, Borderbund was changed to Broderbund (I always get that one wrong), and 5.1-inch disk has been changed to 5.25-inch disk.

December 20 2007 at 10:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Richard Keller's comment

Don't feel bad Rich, I liked it! Great post!

December 20 2007 at 11:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Also, that picture of Dr. Zoidberg is squished terribly.

December 20 2007 at 9:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom Brady

Good lord, I've joined the Legions of Nitpickers. The company was actually called Brøderbund. They had several notable games including "Myst" and "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?".

December 20 2007 at 9:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robb Irrgang

also, there's no such thing as a 5.1 inch floppy disk.

December 20 2007 at 9:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't mean to be a Grammar Nazi, but I think they were called Broderbund. With a line through the O or something. Which I think is actually a pretty cool name. Pretty cool games too, IIRC.

December 20 2007 at 9:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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