The very first virtual world ever created by humans—the ancestor to every online chatroom, MMO, and multiplayer lobby—has been acquired by the librarians at
. The creators of the Multi-User Dungeon (MUD for short) have generously given Stanford permission to make the source code public, which the Stanford Library plans to do in the future.
The MUD1 source code was created in 1978 at the University of Essex by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, and was an attempt to bring multiple players into the text-based adventures in games like
. There are places where you can find similar games
today, and of course a much deeper experience can be found in any MMORPG. Still, the actual source code has special significance as an artifact, like finding yourself in possession of the first vinyl record or strip of celluloid film.
We'll let you know when we get more details on the release of the source code. Until then, raise a glass to the pioneers who burned a trail for the virtual worlds we've all come to love.