Tag Archives: space empire elite

Jon Radoff, creator of “Space Empire Elite” and “Final Frontier”

Jon Radoff is an internet entrepreneur whose career has gone from dial-up to “Beam me up.”

Jon Radoff Headshot

Radoff broke into the gaming business as a teen, writing the BBS door games Space Empire Elite and Final Frontier for the Atari ST in the late 1980s. He built one of the original commercial games on the internet, and founded several gaming and net-related companies since then.

These days he’s the CEO of Disruptor Beam. The company’s latest game, Star Trek Timelines was released for Android and iOS on Jan. 16.

Space Empire Elite is probably the first BBS door game I played as a kid. Did you ever play? Share your memories in the comments. Want to try these old games today? I’ve included links to BBSes at the end.

This interview was conducted by Skype on Jan. 29. It has been edited for length and clarity.

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Space Dynasty memories

They say first impressions are everything. That seems to have been true for teenage me when I tried Hollie Satterfield’s BBS door game Space Dynasty — and wrote it off.

But first impressions are often wrong.

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Telnet to a BBS using a terminal program in the Hatari emulator

When I was a kid calling BBSes, I used an Atari ST computer. However, I rarely if ever used the Atari’s native terminal mode: VT52.

The reason is simple. Atari’s VT52 mode offered only 4 colors in medium resolution. PC clones, however had an 80×25 mode with 16 colors and special graphics characters. This was known as ANSI.

ANSI graphics were prevalent on BBSes in the early to mid-1990s. VT52 was not. So I stuck to a program called “ANSIterm” which could approximate ANSI graphics on the Atari using some special tricks.

Anyway, in recent weeks I’ve been thinking about Space Empire Elite, one of the first BBS door games I ever played. SEE was an Atari ST BBS game and did not support ANSI, so I always played it in plain ASCII mode.

How did SEE look in its native VT52 mode? I was curious. But I was also unsure how I might go about experiencing it in VT52 today.

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The birth of “Break Into Chat”

In October 2012 I logged into Wikipedia and found three alerts waiting for me:

  • “Proposed deletion of Space Empire Elite”
  • “Proposed deletion of Space Dynasty”
  • “Proposed deletion of Solar Realms Elite”

Not good, I thought.

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