A brief timeline of MUDs
- Fall, 1978 - Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw create the first version of a MUD for a PDP-10 server.
- 1987 - Alan Cox designs AberMUD.
- 1989 - Lars Pensjø designs the LPC language and builds the first LPMUD, Genesis.
- August 19, 1989 - Jim Aspnes opens TinyMUD, a MUD based primarily on world creation rather than competition.
- Winter, 1990 - Stephen White releases TinyMUCK 1.0.
- May 2, 1990 - Pavel Curtis releases the first version of MOO.
- October 1, 1990 - Michael Seifert, Hans-Henrik Staerfeldt, Sebastian Hammer, Tom Madsen, Katja Nyboe release DikuMUD Gamma, the first public version of Diku.
- June, 1991 - Russ Taylor releases ROM, a Diku derivative.
- January, 1992 - Jeremy Elson begins development on CircleMUD, a Diku derivative.
- February, 1992 - TMI-2 was founded for the purpose of creating a new driver and MUDlib for LPMuds. This driver eventually became known as MudOS.
- April 23, 1992 - LPC sockets were added to the MudOS driver, allowing the creation of the Intermud network.
- July, 1992 - George Reese (aka Descartes) takes over design on the Nightmare MUD, using the MudOS driver. In October of 1992, Nightmare re-opens.
- Autumn, 1992 - Isengard, the flagship MUD for the Mordor codebase (a derivative of Diku) opens.
- January, 1993 - George Reese releases the Nightmare MUDlib, the first widely available MUDlib built for MudOS.
- August 12, 1993 - DGD (Dworkin Game Driver) is released. It is the first LPMUD containing only original code.
- Autumn, 1994 - ACKmud, a Diku derivative, is created by Steve Dooley.
- May 15, 1995 - George Reese releases the Foundation II MUDlib, the first MUDlib designed for non-game uses.
- July, 1995 - Richard Woolcock opens Godwars, a Diku derivative. In October of 1995, he releases the code to the public.
- July 21, 1995 - The Lima MUDlib is released.
- December, 1996 - Smaug is released, a derivative of Diku.
As you may notice, there has not been much in the way of significant progress in recent years. Much of that is due to the proliferation of graphical online RPGs like Everquest, Ultima Online, and Asheron's Call. Much of the talent that formerly worked to develop MUDs has been snatched up by companies eager to fill the MMORPG niche in the gaming economy. This is not to say, however, that MUDs are dying; far from it. There are many players who still have fond memories of the text-based games, and many fledgling programmers working to make those games better. Of course, MUDs also have one large benefit over the games mentioned above; almost all of them are free to play.