back to article Source code for world's first MUD, Essex Uni's MUD1, recovered

The source code for MUD1, a multi-user dungeon created at the University of Essex in 1978, and generally held to have been the world's first online multi-player game, has been recovered. The code has landed at Stanford University, which says it has secured permission to redistribute the game's blueprints from the authors …


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  1. Ian 56

    I actually played that very game back in the day (1986-ish). Hacked* in from another University's mainframe.

    Good times.

    Also, the very last time I felt even the slightest desire to play a MMORPG.

    * Meant something different once ;)

  2. JimmyPage
    Thumb Up

    Memories ...

    going to school in London in the early 80s, we had a dial up to Essex. Previous Computer Science students had to write their code offfline, onto paper tape, then go into the terminal room, dial up (acoustic coupler anyone) load the program and run it.

    Then we got an ITT 2020 ;)

    We managed to load MUD once, and had no idea what to do .....

  3. Longrod_von_Hugendong
    Thumb Up


    I remember spending many hours playing LPMUD at university, was fantastic...

    Runs on the fastest graphics processor ever - the imagination :D

  4. Andy The Hat Silver badge


    Those were the days ... 1986, 1am, bleary eyed, playing MUD on TVI920 terminals at York University, having bounced across at least three DEC platforms to get to Essex with a pint of Scotch Bitter gently oxidising in the glass beside you ...

    1. Ian 56

      Re: Optional

      Sheee... were you sat next to me?

    2. Thomas Whipp

      Re: Optional

      By the time I was in York (mid 90's) Netrek was the game

  5. DM


    MUD2 is still regularly played at - It's the incarnation from the old Wireplay days. I wonder if releasing the source code for MUD 1 will damage the game for the remainder of the MUD2 players?

  6. BlinkenLights

    Does anyone remember the MUD game on Prestel/Micronet?

    I have vague memories of there being a rush for some kind of weapon every time the game restarted, but not much else.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Shades. Still around at

  7. magpie67

    Ummm PLATO did it first

    Empire ( 1973 ), up to 8 simultaneous users

    search for PLATO games, there are many more

    Empire - 1973, dnd - 1973, Oubliette - 1977, Mines of Moria - 1978, Avatar - 1979

    1. Blane Bramble

      Re: Ummm PLATO did it first

      Except that is not a MUD.

      1. magpie67

        Re: Ummm PLATO did it first

        Oubliette is/was definitely a MUD, so were moria and Avatar, I never played DND, but believe it was a MUD also

        Have a look at this link, has some screen captures as well

        Or you can just go play it :}

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Ummm PLATO did it first

      Of course Plato did it first. He originally came up with the concept of a bunch of people in a cave in the 5th century BCE.

  8. David Barham

    kill gazebo with broadsword

    Doing a computer science degree at Essex in the mid-80s I would do my assignments in the middle of night to use less 'RCUs' on the DEC 10 saving them up for a game of MUD. I got to wizard and along with a group of friends used the Muddle compiler to generate MIST which featured a Flu virus that you could catch from other players. I also remember FRAGGLE which was a MUD based around Fraggle Rock.

    The title, I remember watching a newbie (a term not known then) playing...

    you enter a woodland glade, a slender gazebo stands here.

    > kill gazebo with broadsword

    happy times

    1. Steve the Cynic

      Re: kill gazebo with broadsword

      "The title, I remember watching a newbie (a term not known then) playing...

      "you enter a woodland glade, a slender gazebo stands here.

      "> kill gazebo with broadsword

      "happy times"

      Well, if it had said, "a slender bandstand stands here.", the user probably wouldn't have done it. Two nations divided by a common language and all that... (And let's face it, if you don't know what a gazebo is, you'd be forgiven for thinking, based on the sound of the word, that it is some kind of antelope or something.)

  9. Robigus

    Embarassing meeting.

    My first job post polyversity was working with Roy Trubshaw. I think it was on my first day he spoke to me about MUD. I hadn't got a clue what he was talking about. My spare time in education seemed to involve booze and general hilarity.

    We worked on Powerbuilder and Sybase together.

    Eeeeh. Them were days.

    Nice guy.

  10. Quentin North

    THIS is the reason you need a Dec 10

    I played MUD (& VALLEY, if any remember that) starting in 1980. It was available on Essex DEC-10 and then later I recall it appeared in Oslo for some reason I never knew. I made it to Wizard level in MUD by scripting a terminal client to solve the Crown in the Swamp puzzle gaining the maximum points each game reset.

    So, if you had the source how would you run it today? Well, you will need a DEC-10 running TOPS-10 and IIRC an MDL compiler, although I might be confusing that with Dungeon, either way not particularly common today were it not for the SIMH project that can simulate a DEC-10 and recently has got TOPS-10 up an running. Not sure about MDL though.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CONNECT A00004096000001

    Thanks to a wide-open JANET PAD dial-in at UCL, I used to play SX MUD on my C64 back in '85-'86, when I couldn't afford to spend money on Compunet MUD. Happy days :)

  12. Simon Rockman

    I was there too

    When I started at The Reg there was a magazine on the desk with a picture of Joi Ito on the front, and I said "I know him, he was on MUD". I made wizard and then arch-wizard.

    Initially I played a 110 dial up, then either 1200/75 (anyone can type faster that 75 bits per second) and then in increments at to 19.2k.

    I tell my kids I gave up online gaming ten years before the mainstream started.

    ---* Thor

  13. Endymion

    I spent a significant portion of my mid - teens pasty and exhausted making wizard on mud 1. I remember my parents quarterly phone bill hitting £600. God, I still remember the bollocking I got for that!.

    I dialed in via an open UCL janet PAD, but I remember hearing that a lot of mud players were sharing someone's BT X25 PAD NUA for dialup.. word has it that the customer was billed for 250k before it was closed. Oops.

  14. Oldfogey

    Mud 1 test phase

    I was visiting Essex Uni at Colchester for an SF Convention. A friend who was doing some sort of IT course there at the time said he wanted to show me something they would be releasing soon. The terminal was linked in to MUD, with about a dozen players on line - all local, testing scenarios and stuff.

    Of course my character died almost immediately, as did several more I tried.

    Then, genius struck! I equiped my next character with a large bladed pike and named him DEATH.

    When the screen said "DEATH enters the room", everybody else left as fast as they could type!

    Unfortunately I only had half an hour, but I was having great fun.

    I believe they put in some routines to try and stop people doing that again.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The full source

    5 rem mud source code v1

    10 print "you are in a dungeon or something"

    20 input "what now?", A$

    30 print "ok you "; A$

    40 print "a grubblesome gnorg has spanked your monkey! Ouch"

    50 goto 10

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Grubblesome gnorg?

      I think you mean "You have been eaten by a grue"!

  16. M Gale

    I feel so spoiled.

    When I was playing games in uni, it was either on a half decent PC, or courtesy of a hacked-up Playstation with "TOOL" written across the side.

    They did have a "Games Club" there, but it seemed to be mostly obsessed with CoD. I'd just bring Kerbal Space Program in on a USB pen and play with that.

    Inbetween doing proper work, of course.

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