Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

10.31. Where did MUDs come from?

According to the New Hacker's Dictionary (a wholly nifty book, edited by Eric Raymond and published by the MIT Press), MUD derives from an artificial intelligence experiment at the University of Essex in the early 1980s. Students on the European academic networks liberated the idea, creating a slew of derivatives with names like AberMUD, VaxMUD and LPMUD.

MUDs crossed the Atlantic around 1988 and gained popularity in the United States. As the New Hacker's Dictionary says, "[The] second wave of MUDs emphasized social interaction, puzzles, and cooperative world-building as opposed to combat and competition."

In 1992, more than 50 percent of MUD sites were of a third major variety, LPMUD, which combines the combat and puzzle aspects of AberMUD with extensibility. The trend toward greater programmability and flexibility has continued.

As programmers create new types of MUDs, new names appear for the environments. These include TinyMud, DUM, MOO, MUCK, MUG, and a plethora of others. Although some types of systems are generally used for a certain type of game, the best way to find out what a certain MUD is like is to just connect to it.

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