[Thanks to Raph's Online World Timeline for much of this information.]
- 1980 -
Kelton Flinn and John Taylor write Dungeons of Kesmai . It used ASCII graphics.
- "The summer of 1980 we wrote the game that became Dungeons of Kesmai, which supported six users on a souped-up Z-80." - Kelton Flinn
- They didn't know about MUD at the time. "No. The fantasy lineage started with the single player fantasy game written for the HP-2000 in BASIC during 1979-1980, basically extending a maze combat program I wrote earlier in 1979, to see if I could capture some of the essence of D&D. That game was rewritten in UCSD Pascal for the Z-80 running CPM, and as I mentioned, as that point became 6 user multi-player. Dungeons was the cut down single-player version of that game, still Pascal because CompuServe had a compiler. There was a TRS-80 Model 1 BASIC version in there also. At that time I hadn't even heard of Adventure yet. Of course by the time we were doing the Island late in 1980, I had seen Adventure and Zork, but we were heading off in our own direction by that time, a lot more action-oriented and very little puzzle-solving." - Kelton Flinn
- 1981 -
Island of Kesmai is written by Kelton Flinn and John Taylor.
- "Island of Kesmai was written in 1980 and 1981, the goal being to soak up every bit of performance in the the CS department's new VAX. We succeeded." - Kelton Flinn
- "The look and feel of Dungeons actually did not change much, same basic screen layout and ASCII graphics from the first HP-2000 version through to the Island, but the addition of a quasi-natural-language parser in place of cryptic single character commands was done in the Island, and back-fitted when we did the Dungeons port to CompuServe, so that Dungeons would serve as a intro for the Island. The Island also introduced copious textual descriptions of things, whereas the earlier games relied on the ASCII graphics and terse combat results messages." - Kelton Flinn
- 1982 -
Kesmai is founded by Kelton Flinn & John Taylor.
- "In November 1981, John saw an ad for CompuServe, namely a MegaWars ad ("if you had written this, you'd be making $30,000 a month in royalties!" I think the ad said. Bill was actually trolling for new games!) That kinda got our interest, so we sent a copy of The Island of Kesmai manual to Bill Louden and also to The Source. Even though the game already ran on the Prime computers that the Source used, they never responded intelligibly. Louden on the other hand was interested. We tried to bring the original UNIX version of the Island of Kesmai up on CompuServe's DEC 20's, and chewed up $100,000 of CPU time (at the then commercial rate) in 3 days. We got it working, but as Bill said, the lights dimmed in Columbus when it was running. So we headed back to Charlottesville to retrench. The first step was porting the old Z-80 code, that became Dungeons of Kesmai, which was cut back to single-player (probably the only time in history a multi-player game was made into a single player game!)" - Kelton Flinn
- 1983 -
Megawars III and Island of Kesmai recoded
- "...we [John Taylor & I] dusted off an old coffee-stained printout of "S". We recoded tbe game in CompuServe's BASIC, enhanced the game some, incorporated some ideas Bill had, and rolled out MegaWars III in December 1983. It was an instant hit and stole a lot of MegaWars I's thunder. That enabled us to go back to the Island of Kesmai, rewrite it from Pascal into BASIC (a step backwards!) and rearchitect it for CompuServe." - Kelton Flinn
- 1984 -
Island of Kesmai launches ($12 an hour!).
- 1985 -
Island of Kesmai on Compuserve
- "My memory says that Island of Kesmai went live on CompuServe on December 15, 1985, after a very long internal test. The price was actually $6 an hour for 300 baud, $12 for 1200 baud. Serious players paid the bucks." - Kelton Flinn
- 1994 -
News Corp buys Kesmai.
- 1995 -
Island of Kesmai is retired.
- 1996 -
Alpha/Beta testing begins for Realms of Kesmai (the working title for Legends of Kesmai) the 2D graphical descendant to Island of Kesmai (built upon the same code).
- 1997 -
Legends of Kesmai goes gold.
- 1999 -
EA buys Kesmai from News Corp.
- 2000 -
EA retires Legends of Kesmai on May 29, 2000.
- They release the following statement to the players...
"To all Legends of Kesmai community members:
It is with great sorrow that we announce the departure of Legends of Kesmai from the GameStorm service. On May 29, 2000, Legends of Kesmai will be retired.
If you are a regular Legends of Kesmai player, you will be receiving a special offer from Ultima Online. To ensure that you are able to take advantage of this opportunity, please check to make sure your account information is updated and valid.
We regret that we must discontinue Legends of Kesmai - we understand this is a real loss to many of you. We are confident, however, that the new and exciting developments happening with the GameStorm and EA.com union will more than compensate, and we hope you'll give us the benefit of your thoughts and suggestions as we try to make the summer launch of EA.com everything you want it to be. If you have something you'd like to contribute, please send an email to
We hope that you will accept the Ultima Online offer and help us preserve the passionately united community of Legends. You, the players, have sustained Legends of Kesmai for 15 years, and it is our hope that this devotion and perseverance will continue to thrive in the Ultima Online: Renaissance community. The community found in
Legends is unlike any on the Internet - it is a legacy in and of itself, and it should endure.
To the Legends community, thank you for your continued support of Legends of Kesmai.
Your Legends of Kesmai Staff"