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
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 in his
office, January 1983 and at PLATO@50 conference, June 2010
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.
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
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
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
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 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
April 1968 issue of Data Processing Magazine.”
Brand Fortner, currently
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, Computer
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
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
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
“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:
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.
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.
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.
Stu Moment's (completely
on the right) subLOGIC team, an undated photo (around
SubLOGIC with Stu Moment produced during the years 1989 - 1995 few
new titles. Especially subLOGIC Flight Assignment: Airline Transport
Pilot and subLOGIC Flight Light.
taking over subLOGIC by Sierra late 1995 (other
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
(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
it has acquired the Bruce Artwick Organization Ltd. and that was a
demise of BAO.
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 and his Pitts S2B, an undated photo
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.
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 with his Pitts S-2B, Chanute Air Festival
in Rantoul, Illinois on August 11- 12, 2007
Stu Moment repairing Cessna 120
(which is FAA registered on
his daughter Lisa), 2016
On June 2-3, 2010, the
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
The interview with Bruce
PLATO@50 conference -
Session 5 - PLATO Games: An Early, Robust Community of Multiplayer,
The flight simulation
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 (15 years old) as a computer club
member at the Ridgewood Community High School, 1968
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...
Thank you very much to Brand Fortner, Danny Cohen, Stu Moment, Jos
Grupping and Marc-Andre Handfield for their information and cooperation.