The Collectible ULTIMA


"There arose from the land a man, pure and just, to battle the Dark Lord. British, Champion of the White Light, did battle with Mondain deep within the labyrinth of dungeons, eventually driving him from Akalabeth forever. British of the White Light was proclaimed Lord British, Protector of Akalabeth. Alas, much damage had been suffered unto the lands. The Revival of Akalabeth has begun. 'Tis thy duty to rid Akalabeth of the foul creatures which infest it, whilst trying to stay alive!"

-- from The Annals of Akalabeth

Akalabeth was Richard Garriott's first commercial game, the one that inspired Ultima. The story is a classic one which many people know; he wrote a game just for fun, and the manager at the computer store he worked in sent a copy to an executive at a videogame company. Suddenly, this teenager with no experience except his own interest in games was offered big bucks, and found himself with a new career developing his next game, which became Ultima. It's a gamer's dream come true. But what most people don't realize about the story are the 30 or more games Richard wrote before Akalabeth; each one written to teach himself programming, each one thrown away when he was done, only to move on to the next. Even Richard Garriott had a couple of years of practice under his belt before he got his "lucky" break with Akalabeth.

Akalabeth Akalabeth
  • Platform: Apple II.
  • Publisher: Richard Garriott, © 1979. Graphics by Keith Zabalaoui.
  • Characteristics: Cassette tape.
  • Included: Plastic bag; 8.5 x 11 "cover art" page; Instruction booklet (8 pp.); small 4"x4" card with "Akalabeth" artwork; 2 hand-drawn, xeroxed labels.
  • Original List Price: Unknown.
This is what Richard Garriott was selling at his local Computerland store in the summer of 1979. He bought some zip-lock baggies and made a couple dozen copies of some hand-done documentation, and started selling them there in the store. His manager sent one copy to California Pacific, and that, as they say, was that. Garriott says he only sold a dozen or so of these that summer. It goes without saying that if you have one of these, you can name your price. If, on the other hand, you're looking for one of these... good luck! Actually, I do know of at least three different people that have them. Of course, one of them is Richard Garriott himself... One of them picked it up for a couple of bucks at a local elementary school auction. Really. And the third is listed on the credits page for providing the lovely pictures you see here.

Akalabeth (CPC) Akalabeth
California Pacific version
  • Platform: Apple II.
  • Publisher: California Pacific Computer Co., © 1980.
  • Characteristics: 5.25" (1).
  • Included: Instruction booklet (4 pp.); cover art page.
  • Original List Price: $34.95
After Richard Garriott signed a contract with California Pacific Computer Company, they began distributing the game with new cover art and a (slightly) revised play book.

Akalabeth (CPC) Akalabeth
Second California Pacific version
  • Platform: Apple II.
  • Publisher: California Pacific Computer Co., © 1980, 1981.
  • Characteristics: 5.25" (1).
  • Included: Instruction booklet (8 pp.); cover art page.
  • Original List Price: $34.95
The next year California Pacific changed the artwork for the game again. The original painting from which this cover was taken is called "Wrong Way" (as in, this is the WRONG WAY to summon a daemon!), and is by Denis Loubet. As a final note, there have been "rumors" that Akalabeth will be in some way "included" with Ultima IX when it is released. Whether it's true or not, or just what that means, we'll have to wait and see.

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