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Developer(s) Alan Cox,
Richard Acott,
Jim Finnis,
Leon Thrane
Initial release January 1989
Development status Unmaintained
Written in C
Operating system Unix-like
Size 224 KB
Available in English
Type MUD server
License Open Source

AberMUD /ˈæbərmʌd/ was the first popular open source MUD. It was named after the town Aberystwyth, in which it was written. The first version was written in B by Alan Cox, Richard Acott, Jim Finnis, and Leon Thrane based at University of Wales, Aberystwyth for an old Honeywell mainframe and opened in 1987.[1][2]

The gameplay was heavily influenced by MUD1, created by Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle at the University of Essex, which Alan Cox had played.[3]

In late 1988, AberMUD was ported to C by Alan Cox so it could run on UNIX at Southampton University's Maths machines.[4] This version was named AberMUD2.[5]

In early 1989, there were three instances of AberMUD running in the UK, the Southampton one, one at Leeds University and a third at the IBM PC User Group in London, ran by Ian Smith. In January 1989 Michael Lawrie sent a licenced copy of AberMUD3 to Vijay Subramaniam and Bill Wisner, both American Essex MIST players.[6] Bill Wisner subsequently spread AberMUD around the world.[7]

AberMUD3 was renamed AberMUD II by Rich Salz in February 1989 after he cleaned up the source code and ported it to UNIX.[8]

In 1991, Alan Cox wrote AberMUD IV (unrelated to AberMUD 4) and then AberMUD V, which was also used, with graphical extensions, in the Elvira game by Horror Soft, a trading name of Adventure Soft. AberMUD V was later released under the GNU GPL.

AberMUD4 was improved by Alf Salte and Gjermund "Nicknack" Sørseth to create Dirt. Their May, 1993 final release of Dirt 3.1.2 is used by most of the remaining AberMUD games on the internet.[9]

Notable AberMUDs include Northern Lights and Infinity. About twenty AberMUDs remain in operation, but even as of 2008, they have few players.[10] However, AberMUD's legacy lives on in the three major codebases it inspired: TinyMUD, LPMud and DikuMUD.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bartle, Richard (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. pp. 8–9. ISBN 0-13-101816-7. "Because few academic institutions in the U.K. were as liberal with their computer resources as Essex University, those MUDs that were written at such places tended to achieve only local success. The exception was AberMUD, so called because it was written at the University of Wales at Aberystwyth. Its programmer, Alan Cox, wrote it in B (another fore-runner of C) for a Honeywell L66 mainframe under GCOS3/TSS in 1987." 
  2. ^ Eddy Carroll. "5. Reviews -- Rest of the World". "Cox was a player of MUD1 who wrote AberMUD while a student at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth." 
  3. ^ Bartle, Richard (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. p. 9. ISBN 0-13-101816-7. "A year later, it was ported to C. This was a turning point in virtual world history. The game wasn't particularly advanced either technologically or in terms of content (it was very combat-oriented), but it was great fun. More importantly, in C it was positioned to make a huge advance: It could run under Unix." 
  4. ^ Lawrie, Michael (2002). "Parallels in MUD and IRC History". "He did this on Southampton University's Maths machines thanks to a chap called Pete Bentley who ran a bulletin board called SBBS there, and in late 1988, there was a fairly playable game called AberMUD2 up and running." 
  5. ^ Lawrie, Michael (2003). "Escape from the Dungeon". "I had also taken over a new game called AberMUD that two of my wizards, Anarchy (Alan Cox) and Moog (Richard Acott) had originally written at Aberyswyth University and Alan was now converting to Unix at Southampton University. Alan ended up taking a year out so I took on AberMUD and roped in a couple of programmers in to help keep the thing maintained and expanded. [...] In 1991, I sent a copy of AberMUD to Vijay Subramaniam and Bill Wisner (our only two American MIST wizards) and as far as MUDs being generally available to the world, the rest is history which oddly isn't true for the credits in AberMUD since a huge amount of the original authors were removed somewhere." 
  6. ^ Lawrie, Michael (1997). "A brief history of Lorry". "By 1987, Lorry had taken over the Essex Systems (MUD itself, and the thing he was to become best known for, MIST) and ran them, and just about every other publicly available 'leisure' system on UK academic networks until 1992. Politically, this did me a lot of good, personally, it didn't. Bill Wisner and myself will argue who it actually was who exported MUDs to the rest of the world, I certainly mailed him the first US AberMud distribution, but I reckon that his originally distributing the AberMuds, Diku's and LPMuds makes him far more responsible for this crime against humanity." 
  7. ^ Carroll, Eddy. "5. Reviews -- Rest of the World". "The code was made generally available, and was enhanced and added to by several people, most notably Salz." 
  8. ^ Salte, Alf; Sørseth, Gjermund. "Information and Installation Guide for DIRT 3.1.2". "The files doc/CHANGELOG-aber-IV and doc/Manual.ms contain changes and info for the old original code, they are obsolescent and are included for historical reasons only." 
  9. ^ Nathan, Alfred S. "The Client-Server MUDlist system for AberMUDs". Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  10. ^ Bartle, Richard (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. p. 9. ISBN 0-13-101816-7. "AberMUD spread across university computer science departments like a virus. Identical copies (or incarnations) appeared on thousands of Unix machines. It went through four versions in rapid succession, spawning several imitators. The three most important of these were TinyMUD, LPMUD and DikuMUD." 

External links[edit]