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This is the holy grail of Ultima-collecting, and for many, of all computer game collecting. This is the very first edition of Akalabeth (also referred to as Ultima 0) self-published by Richard Garriott himself while working at a Computerland store in Texas. As the legends go, he sold about a dozen copies before his boss sent off a copy to the publishing house California Pacific, who subsequently nabbed it. As a result, only a few copies of this edition were ever sold, and all known copies floating around can be traced back to 'gifts' from Richard from his stock of leftover parts which would have been used had he sold more copies.

The copies that were sold were all individually numbered on a little green sticker on the disk, and none of these are in the hands of collectors or museums today. Sadly this copy came without the disk and its origins are a little hazy. It was purchased at auction from Ultima novel author Lynn Abbey. She recounts how she obtained it:

I met Richard when we were both guests-of-honor (along with several others) at the first Dragon Con back in 1987, but I was already familiar with his name. My then-husband, Bob Asprin, and I were avid Apple ][ gamers (Bob had a ][c and I had a ][e) and had been playing the Ultima games since 1982 - that is, we started with Ultima 2 and were playing (and replaying) Ultima IV when Richard and I met for the first time. After meeting Richard, I went on a personal quest for Richard's earlier games. I knew about the First Age of Darkness and had little difficulty finding it, but Richard had mentioned that his first game had been Akalabeth. He did not give me a copy of it; as a matter of fact, he pretty much left me with the sense that it was extinct. I've written a couple books which have gone extinct - which means that I do have a few copies of them, but they're irreplaceable and you'd have to be my boon companion before I'd give one to you, and after one meeting, we were neither of us the other's boon companion. Although we had become quite good friends, having spent hours and hours in intense conversation about game design and the space program - which surprised people who knew us as individuals because neither Richard nor I were out-going or quick to warm to strangers. We just hit it off.
Anyway, back in Ann Arbor, where I was living at the time, I went on a quest for Akalabeth because I was determined to have a copy of it by the next DragonCon. In those years I was a regular customer of the Ann Arbor Complete Computer Center (A2 C3) and it was through my contacts there that I eventually tracked down a copy of Akalabeth in the possession of someone who had no idea what it was and sold it to me for peanuts. If memory serves accurately, it was in a bankers-type box along with dozens of other obsolete, primitive Apple ][ games - it was around the time of the Apple ][ series swan song, maybe 1989... I do recall that when I told Richard that I had managed to acquire a copy of my own, he was more than a little astonished. I think he believed that he knew personally the location of every surviving copy of the game.

And perhaps he does. As a note to any would-be counterfeiters, although the images here are of higher resolution and better quality than you will find anywhere else, they have been 'doctored' ever so slightly in such a way that will make any forgery created with them easily detectable. You have been warned.

Special thanks to Lord British himself for generously providing an original disk label and game disk. Although the disk was created in 2011, it was done on the same machine and using the same procedures as the original copies, and the disk label also comes from the original stock. Additionally, there is a copy of the game disk with one of the original green stickers, which were individually numbered when sold. Note the final two pictures are simply digital recreations of what the disks would look like with the sticker on it - the sticker has not actually been applied to the disks.

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