In 1984, on BITNET, a cooperative worldwide university network founded in 1981, two French students from the École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris, Bruno Chabrier and Vincent Lextrait developed and operated a global MUD (Multi-User Dungeon, Domain or Dimension) named MAD (for "Multi Access Dungeon"). It ran on the BITNET node of their school (FREMP11). Quickly, through a viral word of the mouth, a meaningful part of BITNET nodes in the world were playing on the central MAD server,[1] until BITNET administrators, frightened by the adoption of the game, ask the École des Mines to stop it. It had operated slightly less than two years. MAD has been installed on several other nodes in the world, until it was completely banned, as a consequence of its success, which had led BITNET several times to complete saturation. MAD was text-based and entirely written in REXX, a script language proposed on VM/370. MAD ran on the IBM 4341 of the École des Mines de Paris. It made use of a listening utility called "wakeup" developed by one of BITNET aficionados. It proposed initially only one, then several multi-storeys labyrinths populated by mobile and communicating robots (NPC - Non-player character). These bots irreverently wore ENSMP professor names (which was highly appreciated by the players, including surprisingly the foreign ones - see below). Bots would typically shout a Vogon-like "I am a foul monster!". MAD offered in addition the possibility for avatars to chat with each other.

File:MAD MMORPG Log 1986.jpg

The log attached here shows the very high frequency of connections, and their worldwide origin (University of Maine (USA), University of Southern Maine Portland (USA), Queens College (USA), École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris (France), Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel), HEC School of Management (France)). Hundreds of BITNET nodes have played the game.


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