(As most of the content of this history is from Sauron's addled memory (and WAY too long tiny.world file), any errors are likely his fault. Many thanks to Lukthil for originally taking the time to assemble Sauron's notes into a cohesive form, upon which this document is based.)
The founding of ElendorMUSH was most immediately a consequence of the demise of another game, TinyWorld (which itself was a split from TinyTIM - see their history at http://www.tim.org/history/). In late 1991, administrators at the University of Northern Iowa noticed an uncommonly large (read: more than zero) number of connections from their student servers to port 6250 on a .gov site -- the then under-construction Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) -- and contacted the facility to alert them to the situation. As a direct result, TinyWorld was permanently shut down, and refugees from that game collected on another MUSH, now long gone, named "Visions". It was there that future Elendorites Varda, Manwe, Radagast, and Sauron met one another, and conceived of the idea of starting the first Tolkien-themed MUSH. Of the four founders, only Sauron remains active on Elendor today.
Varda had already laid the groundwork. Somewhere around October of 1991 she had converted what was probably an office machine in the Computing and Engineering Sciences building at Case Western Reserve University into a MUSH server and brought it online. The game was a grand experiment using PennMUSH, the then-latest incarnation of the TinyMUD server code developed by Jim Aspnes at Carnegie Mellon University. PennMUSH had several inherent features which made it attractive for the project, including the concept of "zones", which would allow for local control of areas of Middle-earth (though Sauron remembers being most thrilled simply about having more attributes at his disposal than VA-VZ...). As the game started to take shape, the four took a vote over what to name it. Manwe and Varda voted "Elendor", meaning "Star Land" in Quenya, while Sauron voted for "Limlight", a stream rising in the eastern Misty Mountains near Treebeard's dwelling and marking a boundary line of several key areas of Middle-earth (including at different times Lothlorien, Gondor, and Rohan). Radagast abstained, Sauron complained that "Elendor" sounded like one of the Chipettes, Radagast continued to abstain, and Elendor was declared the official name. Sauron remains bitter about the loss to this day.
Over the next two years Varda & Manwe proceeded to build Valinore (which has not survived to the present day) while Sauron built Mordor and Radagast constructed the Rhovanion region. The game was opened to players, though most of the effort at the time was being spent in area building and roleplay was sparse. In early 1993 Varda announced that Elendor's server would be shut down, and that she and Manwe were no longer interested in hosting or working on the game. Radagast put out a call for a new home on rec.games.mud, and found interest at Northern Arizona University where DragonMUD, the first TinyMUD, was being run.
The NAU Years
Wilwarin, a staff member at NAU and one of the founders/coders of DragonMUD, was immediately interested in the idea of a Tolkien-themed MUSH. As luck would have it, he was an avid Tolkien fan, and had actually authored several MERP (Middle-earth Role Playing System, by Iron Crown Enterprises) sourcebooks. He offered to host Elendor on Ghost, the same machine that ran DragonMUD, and together with Aragron and Arwen (who had seen the rec.games.mud posting and wanted to help with the project), was added to the administrative team. As the years spent on Ghost were perhaps the most painful, performance-wise, in anyone's memory, its name will no longer be spoken here.
With the new home beneath their feet, and the building of most of the major areas of Middle-earth having been completed, Elendor began to grow. Elendor's focus on Middle-earth and emphasis on quality roleplaying was solidified and the game began to attract more players. 1993-1994 marked a particular surge of activity and many players who became instrumental Wizards over the next 10+ years (including Amdir, author of the combat system Elendor still uses to this day, and Lukthil, chief hardcoder for many, many years) joined at this time.
For about a year Elendor shared computing resources with DragonMud, but it soon became apparent that the machine was not big enough (or fast enough) for both. DragonMud left NAU and Elendor moved to a larger server, Dana. Then in April of 1995 the players pooled their resources and purchased their first dedicated server which was used (with piecewise upgrades) until May 2002; in '02 the players again got together and, coupled with some parts Sauron had laying about, put together another server which lasted until July of 2008. After 2008's crash, with much gratitude for the 15 years spent at NAU, Sauron ported the MUSH over to one of his own personal servers in Chicago, and then in 2009 he moved it again to the hardware upon which it resides today.
Today Elendor boasts a rich tradition of quality Tolkien roleplaying and is a virtual home to thousands of Tolkien fans. Elendor's all-original database is a tribute to the many players who have contributed to it over the years. Every major realm of Middle-earth is represented and we pride ourselves on accuracy and faithfulness to the original works. The administration is extremely player-focused and is dedicated to the task of providing each gamer with an experience that is truly Tolkienesque. We hope you enjoy playing it as much as we have enjoyed creating it!
Clarification on names: Manwe and Varda predate the "Emeritus" system in place today, and thus no longer have placeholders in the database. Arwen also does not have a placeholder character. However, Radagast's old character is preserved as "Raddy", Aragorn as "Eonwe", Wilwarin is "Bleddyn", Lukthil is "Lukthil", and Amdir is "Amdir". None of the above connect regularly any longer, but they have the capability to do so -- if ever you see their names, be sure to say hello!
Sauron is still Sauron, and he feels older every time he reads this thing. He connects regularly, and you can say hello to him too if you'd like, but try not to mention the year.;)