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

UPDATE (2020-09-03): In the years since I wrote this blog post, I have found some ways to improve this process. Please read my new tutorial on how to telnet to a BBS using a terminal inside the Hatari emulator.

When I was a kid calling BBSes, I used an Atari ST computer. But I seldom used the ST’s native terminal mode: VT-52.

The reason is simple. Atari’s VT-52 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.

PC BBSes with their colorful ANSI graphics were dominant in the early to mid-1990s, while Atari BBSes were dying out. Since I was mostly calling PC boards in those days, I used a terminal program called “ANSIterm” which could display ANSI graphics on the Atari ST using special tricks.

I’ve been thinking about Space Empire Elite, one of the first BBS door games I ever played. SEE was written for Atari ST BBSes. It supported VT-52 as well as plain ASCII, but not ANSI. But I had never seen it in VT-52. How would it have looked? I was curious.

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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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