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Stanford University acquires source code for first ever online virtual world
Stanford University acquires source code for first ever online virtual world
April 29, 2014 | By Mike Rose

April 29, 2014 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

Newsbrief: Stanford University Libraries today announced that it has acquired the source code files for MUD1, the very first online virtual world, first released in 1978.

MUD1, or Multi-User Dungeon, was a text-based multiplayer adventure created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, that eventually spawned a huge variety of similar projects.

Now the source code for the original game has been donated to Stanford University Libraries, where Stanford will be allowed to provide the public with online access to the files. More details on how and when this will happen are due in the coming weeks.

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Alan Boody
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Would knowing this exists provide a way to invalidate many patents that patent trolls have/will try to use against developers of online games?

Curtiss Murphy
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attack goblin

In hindsight, MUDs were almost a multiplayer version of Zork.

Brian Dear
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Multi-user graphical online virtual worlds, multi-user dungeons -- these things were already booming on the University of Illinois' PLATO system in 1978; they'd started popping up in 1973, maybe even '72. You had pedit5, moria, oubliette, krozair, dnd, dungeon, then in 1979 avatar, just to mention but a few. Multi-user dnd games were one of the most popular activities on PLATO all during the mid to late 70s. And these games were all graphics-based, not limited to just text like the far more primitive MUD1.

Bartle has gotten a lot of mileage over the years with the MUD1 story, leading to a misinforming of the media and the public, both of whom, when it comes to technology and the history of technology, seem to be perfectly fine with being misinformed. It's a shame to see an institution as prestigious as Stanford fall for the same misinformation and ignore the real history. Five minutes of Wikipedia browsing would have set them straight.

I'm sure MUD1 was very cool during its time, and got a lot of people interested in the ideas of MUDs. Unfortunately, it was not first. Hard as it might be for people to grasp the concept, but more sophisticated multi-user dungeon games existed before MUD1 was even conceived. Deal with it.

Don Hopkins
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Here's some notes I wrote down on how to connect to Essex University via an ARPANET gateway, log in to Essex University, and run MUD! I must have been about 15 at the time. I wrote it on one page of a Zork map, as you can see.

Thanks a lot to Richard A. Bartle and Michael Lawrie for sharing!

Here are the instructions and some notes to explain what the commands mean:

MUD: Multi User Dungeon

@O 42 -- This was the old TIP command to open a connection to an NCP host id #42 (NCP host IDs were 8 bits. The TIP command to connect to a host was later changed to @L. See "User's Guide to the Terminal IMP" at
&AD=ADA014398 . IMP 42 was in London -- see )

%CON ESX TORUS EPSS 52200300 -- That's a command to the gateway to connect to Essex University in the UK.

LOG 1776,1776 -- That logs you into the guest account for Americans to play MUD.

Password BUZBY

TY GUID.TXT -- That types out the intro guide to MUD.

RU DSKB:MUD[2011,2653] -- That runs MUD.

K/P or K/B Logs off

Philip Gladstone
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As one of the early wizards on the essex mud (from about 1983?) this makes me happy. I just found that there is a version running today at (you use telnet and very limited line editing characters!) but it seems to be a different world than the one that I remember.

I played from the UK using a 1200/75 modem (1200 down and 75 up).