News • Science & Tech
Remembering MUD1 - The first multiplayer role playing game on the Internet
The roots of all online RPGs date back to 1978... and a PDP-10 computer.
October 22, 2023
post photo preview

MUD -- Also known as a "Multi-User Dungeon", is a multiplayer, real-time, text-based virtual world and game.  Often played via Telnet orr SSH.

Let’s take a little stroll back to the 1970s… as we explore the history of the very first MUD — and, in fact, the very first multiplayer, online role playing game on the Internet: MUD1

The Inspiration

To truly understand MUD1 (the game which spawned the entire genre of Multi-User Dungeons), we need to go back to 1976 and the release of the first text adventure game: “Colossal Cave Adventure” (or simply ADVENT as it was known), developed by William Crowther.

Colossal Cave Adventure on a PDP-11

ADVENT was such a hit, that another group of developers at MIT (Dave Lebling, Marc Blank, and Tim Anderson) started a new game. Their goal was to expand on ADVENT. Better map. Puzzles. Dungeons and Dragons inspired combat. And a more advanced text input system.

That game, in 1977, was named “Zork”.

Fun side-note: The word “Zork” meant absolutely nothing. It was a made up, nonsense word used as a placeholder for the project. This was common practice at MIT. Before the game was complete, the team changed the name to “Dungeon”. After being released as “Dungeon”, the company that owned Dungeons & Dragons (TSR) got ahold of the developers and requested they not use the name. At which point the name of the game was changed back to Zork. And that’s how it stayed.

The original “Dungeon” version of Zork. Before the name change.


The Creation of MUD1

In 1979, two men over in Britain, at the University of Essex, started playing Zork (or, rather, “Dungeon” before the name was changed to “Zork”): Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw.

This game gave them the inspiration to create something similar… but multiplayer.

This game was known simply as “Multi-User Dungeon” (as, in a way, it was a “Multi-User” system that was a bit like the game “Dungeon”)… or MUD, for short. In later years it would be referred to as “MUD1” to more easily differentiate it from the growing category of “MUD” games.

According to the official account by Richard Bartle:

“The very first MUD was written by Roy Trubshaw in MACRO-10 (the machine code for DECsystem-10's). Date-wise, it was Spring 1979. The game was originally little more than a series of inter-connected locations where you could move and chat. I don't think it was called MUD at that stage, but I'd have to ask Roy to be sure. Roy rewrote it almost immediately, and the next version, also in MACRO-10, was much more sophisticated. This one was definitely called MUD (I still have a printout of it). The database (ie. the rooms, objects, commands etc.) was defined in a separate file, but it could also be added to during play. However, the result was that people added new rooms that were completely out of keeping with the rest of the environment, and, worse, added new commands that removed any spirit of exploration and adventure that the game may have had.”

At which point — around the spring of 1980 — Richard Bartle took over development from Roy Trubshaw:

“I had been helping Roy with the game-side of things for some time, starting with suggestions for version 1. Roy was mainly interested in the programming side of things, rather than the design of rooms, puzzles and so on. When he left Essex, I took over full control. At that point, there was no objective for the players, and only primitive communication. There was no points-scoring system, there were no mobiles, no containers, and even some of the infrastructure was missing (eg. two people in a dark room, one with a torch: the other still couldn't see). In terms of lines of code, Roy gave me about 25% of what was in the final program (mind you, it was the most essential 25%!). I added all the stuff about getting to be a wizard (which was previously 'debug mode' so implementors - Roy and I - could test out new room complexes we'd added.

Fun bit of trivia: Note how he describes himself as an “implementor”? This was true with the development of Zork/Dungeon as well. In fact, the small team working on Zork often referred to themselves as “imps”… for short.

Looking back on the original MUD, Roy describes the distribution of work thusly:

“Although Roy had written the basis of the system, it wasn't really a game, nor was it completely usable. Sometimes, the implication is given that I merely modified his program, or tidied up a few loose ends, whereas actually I wrote most of it (and unwrote some of it!). At other times, there's the suggestion that Roy just knocked together a basic shell devoid of anything really original or interesting; again, that's incorrect - Roy pioneered MUD programming, and had to design everything from scratch. So the writing of that first MUD was basically a team effort, and the way Roy and I expect to see it described is "MUD was created and written by Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle at Essex University in the UK", or words to that effect.”

By early 1980, the first trans-Atlantic, Internet, Role-Playing gaming session occurred:

"At this time, there was an experimental packet-switching system (EPSS) linking Essex University to ArpaNet in the USA. In Spring 1980, we got our first few external players logging in and trying the game out.”

This is a map of the original MUD1 (as drawn by a fan and published in the early 1980s):

That really takes me back. I recall drawing so many similar maps for other types of MUDs (many of which I played on local BBS’s). Some serious childhood memories there.

MUD1 becomes “British Legends”

In 1987, Richard Bartle struck a deal with CompuServe to bring MUD to their network. The original MUD server shut down, and the CompuServer version was launched… under a new name: “British Legends”.

In fact, British Legends is still technically accessible. Though, I’ve found the connection tends to drop regularly… making game play extremely difficult.

The Full Source Code

What’s more… the entire source code for MUD1 was released publicly in recent years.

You can find the full source code for MUD1 over on GitHub, including instructions on how to build it on a PDP-10.

MUDs live on!

Many MUDs are still going strong. Including games like Stellar Aeon:

And, on many Bulletin Board Systems, there is even one called “Door MUD”:

Considering that we are over 40 years since the creation of MUD… I’d say we’re not likely to see these sorts of games go away (at least not completely) any time soon…

community logo
Join the Lunduke Community
To read more articles like this, sign up and join my community today
What else you may like…
End of the Internet? Dead Internet Theory + Disappearing Content = Rut Roh

The Internet is mostly made by AI... but that's ok, it's all being deleted anyway.

The Future of Computing: A.I. and Advocacy. ...Seriously?

Microsoft, Firefox maker Mozilla, & Red Hat envision a future where computers are focused on Artificial Intelligence & Political Advocacy (and Activism). Where do others, like Apple & Ubuntu, stand?

The Open Source Community is Neither "Open" nor a "Community"

Other words that don't describe the Open Source World: Free, Democracy, Welcoming, Inclusive, Honest.

November 22, 2023
The futility of Ad-Blockers

Ads are filling the entirety of the Web -- websites, podcasts, YouTube videos, etc. -- at an increasing rate. Prices for those ad placements are plummeting. Consumers are desperate to use ad-blockers to make the web palatable. Google (and others) are desperate to break and block ad-blockers. All of which results in... more ads and lower pay for creators.

It's a fascinatingly annoying cycle. And there's only one viable way out of it.

Looking for the Podcast RSS feed or other links? Check here:

Give the gift of The Lunduke Journal:

The futility of Ad-Blockers
November 21, 2023
openSUSE says "No Lunduke allowed!"

Those in power with openSUSE make it clear they will not allow me anywhere near anything related to the openSUSE project. Ever. For any reason.

Well, that settles that, then! Guess I won't be contributing to openSUSE! 🤣

Looking for the Podcast RSS feed or other links?

Give the gift of The Lunduke Journal:

openSUSE says "No Lunduke allowed!"
September 13, 2023
"Andreas Kling creator of Serenity OS & Ladybird Web Browser" - Lunduke’s Big Tech Show - September 13th, 2023 - Ep 044

This episode is free for all to enjoy and share.

Be sure to subscribe here at to get all shows & articles (including interviews with other amazing nerds).

"Andreas Kling creator of Serenity OS & Ladybird Web Browser" - Lunduke’s Big Tech Show - September 13th, 2023 - Ep 044

News fast update!

Last weekend, on what was pretty much a dare, I decided to not look at any "news" for the week. I signed out of all social media, except for FB and Discord. I'm in a couple motorcycle groups on FB that revolve around the Mid-Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route. I just looked at that, and didn't even load up the main feed. Discord just for chat, though I even kept that to a minimum. I didn't click through anything that even remotely looked like news. I didn't go to Slashdot or CNN or Fox or the orange site, any of it. I skipped the current affairs people I follow on Youtube.

I didn't watch or read any of Bryan's new stuff. Heck, the only time I even signed into Locals was when I accidentally fired up the Android app, which I promptly closed. (I was trying to open my banking app and it's right beside Locals.)

In other words, I currently don't have a clue about anything. I see there's a new Q&A. I'ma go watch it now.

Going forward, I think a lot of what I...

post photo preview
post photo preview
post photo preview
Last week at The Lunduke Journal (May 19 - May 25, 2024)
Open Source! The Future of Computing! The End of the Internet! Yowza, what a week!

We tackled some pretty big topics last week!  The nature of "The Open Source Community", the future of computing (according to "the powers that be"), and the... end of the Internet?  Yikes.  Intense stuff!

Luckily, we ended the week with various nerdy goofiness.  You know.  To cleanse the palate.

Oh!  Have I thanked all of The Lunduke Journal subscribers yet today?  No?  Well, gosh darn it, I should!  You amazing nerds make all of this possible.

The Videos

The Articles

Previous Few Weeks

And, would you look at that?  A new week is about to begin!  If the past is a good indictor of the future... better buckle up, Buttercup!  This next week is gonna be a fun ride!

Read full Article
post photo preview
Instantly Become an Elite Movie Hacker
(with 3 simple tools)

Feeling lazy?  Want anyone who happens to walk past your computer screen to think you are incredibly busy writing — or compiling — a mountain of code?

Filming a movie about a squad of elite hackers and need the computer screens to... you know... look the part?

Or, heck, are you just a bit bored and want to make your computer do something funky looking?

Whichever situation you find yourself in, here are three different tools that will make your computer appear like it is hard at work doing some seriously elite hacking and coding.

1 - Genact

Genact is described as a “nonsense activity generator”. And boy does it do its job well.

Pretend to be busy or waiting for your computer when you should actually be doing real work! Impress people with your insane multitasking skills. Just open a few instances of Genact and watch the show. Genact has multiple scenes that pretend to be doing something exciting or useful when in reality nothing is happening at all.

Runs on Linux, Windows, and Mac… and creates screens like this:



Memory Dumping!



Genact has a whole boatload of different modules to help you pretend to do a bunch of different things: Mining crypto, handling docker images, compiling kernels, viewing logs… it’s all here.

2 - Hollywood

Hollywood is a Linux-only option, and it looks oh-so-cool. It runs in a terminal, and opens up a whole bunch of different applications (mostly real performance and network monitoring tools) each of which displays constantly updating bits of information.

The whole point is to make your computer look super busy… and super hacker-y. Just like in a movie.

In fact, Hollywood looks so good that it’s been used in multiple TV shows.

For example, here it is in a segment for NBC Nightly News:

So much elite hacker-y-ness!

Yeah. The news. A fake “make your computer look like it’s hacking something” application. On the news. If that’s not a great representation of the sorry state of TV News, I don’t know what is.

Just for the sake of completeness… here’s a shot of two investigators -- from that news report -- pointing to the random, gibberish output of Hollywood… and pretending like it’s super fascinating, real data that is somehow relevant to the news segment.

"Hmm.  Yes.  My elite hacker brain is thinking about this very real hacker stuff on this computer screen.  Look!  Right there!  Hacker stuff!"

That is, I kid you not, absolutely real.  This was on the news.

And here’s Hollywood in a sketch on Saturday Night Live:

"Don't interrupt me!  Can't you see I'm hacking!"

Seriously.  Hollywood is tons of fun to play with.  Even if you're not filming a news report.

3 - is a bit different than the other ones.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Open up

  2. Start hitting keys on the keyboard. Any keys at all. Doesn’t matter.

  3. Perfectly formatted C code appears on the screen!

Alloc's and Struct's and Int's!  Huzzah!

Now you can write code just like actors in the movies! Just sit back and pound away at your keyboard -- like a deranged, drunken monkey -- with complete disregard for what keys you’re actually pressing!

Whichever of these three options you choose -- HackerTyper, Hollywood, or Genact -- you are now fully equiped to become the most elitest of elite movie hackers.  (You're even ready to be on the evening news.)

Read full Article
post photo preview
Funny Programming Pictures Part XLI
That's, like, 41 in normal, non-fancy numbers.

Behold!  Pictures... from... the Internet!


Dangit, Bilbo!  Knock it off!


I would... still apply the .gitignore rules.  ... right?  I think?


HTTP jokes are all the rage these days.


According to every PM and Scrum Master I've ever worked with, this is true.


False.  Five months.


The Amazon Shareholders would like to thank you for your contribution.


It's totally normal for the value of a currency to fluxuate by 10% every day.  At random.  Wink wink.


You think a measly garage door is going to stop Flanders from asking you about LLM's?


Ok.  This one's not about programming or computers.  But.  You know.  Think about it.


This comic is highly misleading.  In real life, the "issues" bag is roughly twice the size.  Also the corporation stole the tree.


Can't argue with that.


He he.  Still one of my favorites.


I should make a rule about this within The Lunduke Journal.  Anyone who mentions "AI" has to drop a quarter in the tip jar.  I'd be rich!  Rich, I say!




I'm not saying Infrastructure guys are pansies nowadays.  But they're pansies nowadays.




It takes screenshots of your mouth.


You see... because they have small brains.
Read full Article
See More
Available on mobile and TV devices
google store google store app store app store
google store google store app tv store app tv store amazon store amazon store roku store roku store
Powered by Locals