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  Bruce Artwick and Stu Moment

The Flight Simulator Men

           Bruce Arthur Artwick was born on 1st January 1953 in Norridge, Illinois, USA. He is known as a founder of subLOGIC and Bruce Artwick Organization (BAO) and he is the most famous as the creator - programmer of the legendary flight simulation program called Flight Simulator, under his subLOGIC or Microsoft’s label as well. Bruce Artwick with his subLOGIC co-founder, Stuart L. Moment, produced long line of subLOGIC/Microsoft Flight Simulators.

Stu Moment and Bruce Artwick

Stu Moment, Bruce Artwick and their Cessna 150, January 1983

           I always desired to personally meet Bruce Artwick or Stu Moment to get true and confirmed information. I was particularly interested in the years before the first version of the Flight Simulator was created. I wanted to know circumstance under which the flight simulation was developed, where Artwick got his inspiration, when subLOGIC Flight Simulator 1 for Apple II actually was released and many other questions. There are quite few information and lots of misinterpretations especially on Internet.

           Unfortunately, I did not get personally in contact with the two parents of Flight Simulator, although I received some answers for my questions vicariously from Stu Moment (regarding to subLOGIC Flight Simulator 1 for Apple II). I understand that they are already bored with questions concerning their Flight Simulator and they have not spare time for my inquisitive questions. Anyway, I do not want to make the same mistakes like the others. I will not describe the history without any real confirm the information. So I would like to present you some facts which represent Mr. Bruce Artwick and I added some notes and my opinions.

Bruce Artwick late 1982 Bruce Artwick June 2010

Bruce Artwick in his office, January 1983 and at PLATO@50 conference, June 2010

Stu Moment in Jan 1983 Stu Moment 2014

Stu Moment in January 1983 and in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in 2014

The subLOGIC's story

           Bruce Artwick completed his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He graduated in 1976. He was interested in computers, hardware oriented, particularly in computer design. “Stu Moment enrolled at the university’s Institute of Aviation and started his flying career. During the time they roomed together with a dozen other spirited students in a big old house dubbed Gamma Ray Zappa”, claimed an article in Softalk Magazine, January 1983. They became friends.

           What inspired Bruce Artwick with his master thesis? The thesis project called for creating a real-time flight simulator on the PDP-11. He did research at the Aviation Research Laboratory, Institute of Aviation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and finished his thesis called “A versatile computer-generated dynamic flight display” in May, 1976. In his thesis Artwick did software project of fast 3D graphics projection program in FORTRAN programming language to be used with computer hardware to create dynamic displays. The project should be usable for example for software flight simulation without expensive graphics hardware. He wrote modular software subroutines which could be transportable to different computer platforms.

The title-page of the Artwick´s master thesis, May 1976 Stu Moment on the title-page of the Softalk Magazine article about subLOGIC, January 1983

The title-page of the Artwick’s master thesis, May 1976 (left)

Stu Moment on the title-page of the Softalk Magazine article about subLOGIC, January 1983 (right)

           After graduation early 1977, Artwick and Moment decided to form a company. Then Artwick wrote an article on 3D graphics for Kilobaud Magazine which was issued in October 1977. The article described 3D Microcomputer Graphics for 6800 processor, their first software product, which was usable for making graphics applications. So it was usable almost similar to current CAD (Computer-aided design) programs to use of computer to assist in the creation, modification and optimization of a design (see appendix 3 of the manual), or for example for making games as well.

The title-page of 3D Microcomputer Graphics manual, BASIC 6800 processors, the first subLOGIC product, August 1977 The title-page of 3D Computer Graphics article in Kilobaud Magazine, October 1977

The title-page of 3D Microcomputer Graphics manual, BASIC 6800 processors, the first subLOGIC product, August 1977 (left)

The title-page of 3D Computer Graphics article in Kilobaud Magazine, October 1977 (right)

           Late in 1979, subLOGIC published the Animation Package 3D Microcomputer Graphics for Apple II. It was their first program for Apple II. It was distributed on one cassette tape (later on 5.25inch floppy disk too). There was included a special demonstration which we can consider as the first public demo of the Flight Simulator 1, but in fact it demonstrated abilities of their graphics package. The A2-3D1 manual is dated August 1979, but it probably hit market in October 1979.

           The demo is depicting 14 still pictures of the flying area with six mountains and the airport location. The flying area is 5 x 6 grids. An instrument panel is not presented. It has to be highlighted that it is not playable demo; you can not take control of the plane. The pictures are repeatedly depicting.

The demo as a part of the Animation Package 3D Computer Graphics

           Finally, in January 1980 hit market subLOGIC’s most famous program - the Flight Simulator, version 1 for Apple II - the first ever. There are many misinterpretations about the exact date of publication. Some sources claim that it was released in January 1979, some sources claim even 1978. The manual, first release, first printing has sign January 1980.

The manual cover of the Animation Package the manual cover of subLOGIC Flight Simulator 1 for Apple II

The manual cover of the Animation Package (left) and the manual cover of subLOGIC Flight Simulator 1 for Apple II (right)

           I always believed that the program was made in 1979, but I was not sure about the year when it got in public. Fortunately I received an answer directly from Stu Moment. “The program was really done later in 1979 and it was ready for distribution during a week after Christmas 1979 (last week in the year). I remember that I had to write few apologetic letters to users who wanted to have Flight Simulator 1 as a Christmas gift.” Then the Flight Simulator 1 hit market in January 1980.

subLOGIC Flight Simulator 1 for Apple II

           I already mentioned that I do not want to repeat misinterpretations of the history like the others did. Well, please read the article Exec SubLogic: On Course and Flying High, which is probably the first and the oldest magazine interview with the subLOGIC’s men. In my opinion the article the most accurate describes the early history of subLOGIC.

A brief history of computer flight simulation in connection with Artwick’s Flight Simulator

           Where did Bruce Artwick get inspiration to use his programming skills and interest in graphics just for creating Flight Simulator from? There were some experimental flight simulation devices with software, even games, many years before the first Artwick’s Flight Simulator on an Apple II. He had to know about it. There are two examples.

           Danny Cohen, a scientist, gave testimony about a computer-driven display demonstration for the Spring Joint Computer Conference in Atlantic City in April, 1967. The demonstration was to be an airplane simulator. The System Engineering Laboratory of Ft. Lauderdale demonstrated there a real-time visual flight simulation running on their mini-computer, the SEL-810, using their new graphic system, the SEL-814. “It was a great attraction, no one has ever seen such a system. People waited in long lines for the opportunity to fly it for a few minutes”, described Cohen.

The use of on-line cathode ray tube display with shows line drawings of an airport and hills

The use of on-line cathode ray tube display with shows line drawings of an airport and hills

           “The scene out of the window was made about of 50 lines, defined in 3D space. Only lines, no polygons, no surfaces, no hidden elimination, no color. Scores of people have seen our system. Many asked for the equation for the perspective transformation and for 3D line clipping, in order to reproduce our program on their low cost minicomputers. In response we published an article which was even the cover story of the April 1968 issue of Data Processing Magazine.”

A cover of the Data Processing Magazine, April 1968

A cover of the Data Processing Magazine, April 1968

           Brand Fortner, currently a research professor, programmed a game called Airfight during his studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The University was involved in the PLATO. PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations) is credited as the earliest example of a virtual community. Preceding both the Internet and the bulletin board system, PLATO was created by Professor Don Bitzer at the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois and was further developed by other university faculty and students. PLATO grew beyond the boundaries of its educational purposes: the system eventually featured the first versions of many now-common applications, including e-mail, groupware, instant messaging, chat rooms, multimedia, and gaming programs.

PLATO terminal

PLATO terminal, Computer History Museum

           Brand Fortner with Kevin Gorey prepared the first working version of Airfight in summer 1974. At release it quickly became the most popular game on PLATO, and continued that way until Empire was released.

           “The game allows flying several types of aircrafts within the extremely primitive generic scenery, very loosely based on the Champaign airport and surroundings. Kevin helped with the physics equations for the simulator and some of the coding for the first version. I replaced the first version of Airfight with a completely rewritten second version that Kevin did not contribute to. It was in 1976. The inspiration for the game came from Sila’s Warner’s AirAce program. AirAce was much simpler than Airfight, without the true 3D flight equations. I do not think it was even interactive. We were very proud of the fact that we used true 3D flight equations, that we derived by library research from the link simulator technical papers”, described Brand Fortner.

Brand Fortner's Airfight (version 1976), F-15 over the runway

Brand Fortner's Airfight (version 1976), F-15 over the runway

           Fortunately, there is a software based virtual online PLATO system which allows playing old software from the original PLATO network. It is like PLATO emulator. The AirAce program has not been preserved. Anyway, I could fly Airfight, which is much more important, and I made above showed screenshot. In my opinion from the perspective of today, it is not true flight simulation program. It is not even like the simulation program fully comparable to the first Artwick’s  subLOGIC Flight Simulator 1 for Apple II, not at all comparable with versions since 1982. The main difference is missing timing. It means that you must set flight parameters (direction - roll, pitch; level of engine power) and press NEXT key (like Enter). „Every NEXT press advanced simulation time by, um, I think a second or two. That meant that to win at Airfight, you pressed NEXT furiously, which drove up the CPU usage, which made the system administrators mad, so the game was only enabled at night. Its high CPU usage limited the number of people who could play it simultaneously”, was comment from Brand. This means that when you move away from the computer, the Airfight remains standing at the position and waiting for the next press Enter. Anyway, the game had very impress in 1974-76. I have to note, that it was not the game for selling, so there was not any box cover, nor an official paper manual. “Bruce Artwick was an early enthusiastic player in Airfight. He will have to answer what influence it had on Flight Simulator”, added Brand.

Back to the story of subLOGIC

           Bruce Artwick made subLOGIC Flight Simulator 1 also for then popular computer Tandy TRS-80. The hardware of TRS-80 was not as good as the Apple II was, so this version of Flight Simulator has aged look. It was not easy to fly the plane and made the screenshot.

SubLOGIC Flight Simulator 1 for TRS-80

subLOGIC Flight Simulator 1 for TRS-80

           “Artwick’s Flight Simulator for the Apple was a monster success in the first two years of its release. It placed second on Softalk’s first Top Thirty poll in October 1980. It was last seen on the Top Thirty in May 1982’s poll at number twenty-seven. Flight Simulator has been pulling strong on the Strategy Five for sixteen straight months, usually second or third. Including the TRS-80 version, Artwick’s Flight Simulator has sold more copies than any other flight simulator of any kind in the world”, wrote Softalk Magazine in January 1983.

           Later there were issued few next articles about subLOGIC, Bruce Artwick or about the first versions of Flight Simulator in computer magazines. It is worth mentioning articles in:

Compute!´s Gazette, January 1985 Computer Gaming World, April 1987

Compute!’s Gazette, January 1985 (left), Computer Gaming World, April 1987 (right)

Computer Entertainment July1985

Computer Entertainment, July 1985

Happy Computer, June 1988 Commodore Gazette, September 1988

Happy Computer, June 1988 (in German) and the other source, Commodore Gazette, September 1988 (in Italian)

 ST Magazin, October 1989 (in German), Počítačové hry 1989 (in Czech)

ST Magazin, October 1989 (in German), Počítačové hry 1989 (in Czech)

           So you can read next articles which describe the legendary man and the company. Unfortunately the articles include few mistakes and misinterpretations. Then I left some corrections and notes, but I did not try to correct all of them. The origin of these misinterpretations probably comes from the fact that the reported information was taken from other sources and without proper authentication or authorization. Even so, they illustrate subLOGIC's history.

University of Illinois about their famous former student

           Department of Computer Science University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had been releasing the Alumni News newsletters about their most successful graduates. So you can read what they say about Bruce Artwick in Spring 1996 issue, 20 years after Artwick’s graduation.

Alumni News newsletter, spring 1996

The title-page of the Alumni News newsletter, Spring 1996

           I have to note that they made a mistake as well. The subLOGIC Flight Simulator 1 for Apple II was ready for distribution just before the end of the year 1979 and in fact it hit marked in January 1980.

           Late 1988, Bruce Artwick left subLOGIC and formed the new firm BAO. Stu Moment stayed as a head of subLOGIC. Both firms continued with making flight simulation programs and add-ons until the end of 1995. There is mentioned as a reason for breakup - "because the 8-bit marked had shifted to 16-bit." In my opinion this was not a real reason. Some sources from that time claimed that Artwick and Moment had different view of the subLOGIC's future. It must have been very painful, because subLOGIC even faced a lawsuit from Microsoft and from Bruce Artwick (BAO) as well in 1990.

subLOGIC team around 1992

Stu Moment's (completely on the right) subLOGIC team, an undated photo (around 1992)

           SubLOGIC with Stu Moment produced during the years 1989 - 1995 few new titles. Especially subLOGIC Flight Assignment: Airline Transport Pilot and subLOGIC Flight Light. Close to taking over subLOGIC by Sierra late 1995 (other source), subLOGIC released an improved version of Flight Light simulator titled Flight Light Plus. You may also find interesting that in 1996 Sierra released subLOGIC Flight Light Plus named simply as subLOGIC Flight. Part of the subLOGIC personnel moved from Illinois to Eugene, Oregon, and joined Dynamix (a game developer, since 1990 part of Sierra). Then Sierra (a game producer) released Pro Pilot in 1997. That was a demise of subLOGIC.

           BAO with Bruce Artwick produced during years 1989 - 1995 many next versions of Flight Simulator for IBM PC, NEC PC and Macintosh, which were released by Microsoft. In addition BAO released few next flight simulation related accessories like BAO Flight Simulator Flight Shop, BAO Tower and few sceneries. In December 1995 Microsoft announced (other source), that it has acquired the Bruce Artwick Organization Ltd. and that was a demise of BAO.

Stu Moment

           In connection with subLOGIC is mostly mentioned only Bruce Artwick. The second man of subLOGIC, Stu Moment, was largely perceived in a background. In my opinion it is necessary to emphasize important role of Stu Moment for making Flight Simulator series thanks to his pilot knowledge and to emphasize his important role especially in subLOGIC's management. Please, read an article by Vincent Czaplyski.

Stu Moment with his Pitts S2B

Stu Moment and his Pitts S2B, an undated photo (around 1988)

Stu Moment by Vincent Czaplyski, 1996

An article about Stu Moment by Vincent Czaplyski, March 1996

           I always liked a roguish smile of Stu Moment. I also liked the other thing – how the “crazy” pilot with the black flyer’s jacket had changed to the serious elegant businessman, always perfect in a suit. It should be mentioned, that besides management of subLOGIC, he was an air show display pilot.

Aircraft Maintenance Graduating Class 1997

The first class of Aircraft Maintenance Technology students completing their Illinois Aviation Association Certificates through the Illinois Community College Aviation Consortium (Stuart Moment stands on the left), May 1997

Stu Moment as Elvis at an air show

Stu Moment as Elvis with his Pitts S-2B,  Chanute Air Festival in Rantoul, Illinois on August 11- 12, 2007

Stu Moment repairing Cessna 120

Stu Moment repairing Cessna 120 (which is FAA registered on his daughter Lisa), 2016

Finally personally Bruce Artwick

           On June 2-3, 2010, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, USA, hosted a 6-session conference on the PLATO learning system. Session 5 was entitled PLATO Games: an early, robust community of multiplayer, online games. Among the guest participants there appeared Bruce Artwick. Except his session appearance, Robert Scoble caught Bruce Artwick and made an off hand interview. The interview gives answers to some unanswered questions such as why Artwick made just flight simulation program or what the PLATO was influence.

The interview with Bruce Artwick

PLATO@50 conference - Session 5 - PLATO Games: An Early, Robust Community of Multiplayer, Online Games

The flight simulation legend

           Although there were few other flight simulation programs before Bruce Artwick or simultaneously with him, he created really the first ever real-time flight simulation program for home computers and then for massive expansion to the people who were interested in flying. We should view his Flight Simulator as the true home simulator. It was not the only demonstrator for few scientists, it was not experimental software with huge and expensive hardware and the Flight Simulator was not like the other frequent simple “games”, especially since 1982. It does not matter where Artwick took initial idea to apply the knowledge of computer programming and his interest in graphics specifically for aviation simulation. In my opinion much more important is the form in which the flight simulator created. So the answer to the question why the Flight Simulator became so extraordinary is to answer the question what was different from the others.

Bruce Artwick at the Ridgewood Community High School 1968

Bruce Artwick (15 years old) as a computer club member at the Ridgewood Community High School, 1968

Bruce Artwick at the Ridgewood Community High School 1971

Bruce Artwick as a graduate at the Ridgewood Community High School, 1971

           When Bruce Artwick began his studies at the high school, who could have guessed that he will later create the legend...

Credits

           Thank you very much to Brand Fortner, Danny Cohen, Stu Moment, Jos Grupping and Marc-Andre Handfield for their information and cooperation.

           Further information is welcome.

 

© 2005 - 2017 Josef  Havlík

 

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