If you have ever used a bulletin board system, you probably have heard about TradeWars, a multi-player space trading game. The first version of TradeWars was written by Chris Sherrick in the mid-'80s. I interviewed Sherrick for a feature-writing assignment in college, and he told me that the program was written because he couldn't afford to play DecWars, a popular multi-player game on CompuServe and mainframe computers at many universities and colleges. He designed his own game that was similar to DecWars but with some new wrinkles for bulletin board play, and later passed the game to John Morris, who greatly expanded its features.

The Sherrick/Morris version of TradeWars, the most popular BBS game ever developed, has spawned derivative games by other programmers. Gary Martin of Martech Software wrote TradeWars 2001 and expanded it as TradeWars 2002, and it continues to be developed today by John Pritchett of EIS Online. There also are some unsupported versions of TradeWars available for download in some file archives.

Most TradeWars-related material on the World Wide Web is devoted to the MarTech versions of the game. As someone who played the original TradeWars long before any derivative games became available, I think it's still the best TradeWars.

John Morris calls his version TradeWars 2 today to avoid confusion with other games. It's available for both DOS and OS/2 bulletin board systems and also can be played without a BBS. After contacting Morris, I found out that the current release is version 11.20.

The game can be downloaded from this site:

  • TradeWars 2 Release 11.20 for DOS: Tw2-1120.zip (444K bytes)
  • TradeWars 2 Release 11.20 for OS/2: tw!21121.zip (462K bytes)

TradeWars 2 is shareware. You can download it for free evaluation, but should buy your copy if you continue to run it. See the TradeWars 2 documentation for more information.

I'm not affiliated with TradeWars 2, so I will ignore all support- or order-related questions involving the game. Several ways to contact John Morris are contained in the documentation.

More information on Gary Martin's version of the game is available in an interview

-- Rogers Cadenhead

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