My understanding is that the first version of Tradewars was written as a sample program for a BASIC book published by Hewlett-Packard. If you have any more information about this book, I'd like to hear about it. I'm told the title is "The People's Book of Computer Games"... I'd love to track down a copy. The name of this small BASIC program was "Star Traders." While it's not Tradewars, per se, It was a direct ancestor of the modern TW.
Chris Sherrick produced the first BBS version. Most other versions are hacks of Sherrick's version.
Chris Sherrick passed his version on to John Morris. The last I heard, it was being developed under the name "Tradewars II". If you have more information, let me know. The source code for one of his older BASIC releases is available in my download area. Move information about Tradewars 2.
This version was produced by some warez puppies in Texas. See the TW2.DOC file which was included with their release. Legal? Probably not, but Sherrick and Morris never (to my knowledge) pursued any legal actions. A lot of small changes were made to fit the theme of the Klingon Empire! BBS. For example, the Cabal became the Romulan Cabal. It's a fairly straightforward port of the QuickBASIC version to Turbo Pascal. It was apparently done because the authors were unable to get the BASIC version running on their WWIV board. It's available in the download section, and includes the TW2.DOC file.
This version (by Gary and Mary Ann Martin, aka Martech) was based on the WWIV/TP version mentioned above. It added the following:
I used to have the source code available for download, but it's no longer available for download here, by request of Gary Martin. The source code wasn't dramatically different from the WWIV/TP version which is still available in my download section. Interestingly, they elected to replace the Romulan Cabal with the Ferrengi. Go figure. The daily maintenance routines were also moved to external program called (surprisingly enough) EXTERN.EXE.
This version is based on Tradewars 2001, and is also by Martech. You can get the latest version at Castle Ravenloft. New development of Tradewars 2002 was recently discontinued, except for bug fixes. I have been asked to clarify that this applies only to new features. Bug fixes continue, and "Tradewars Gold" is now available. Mr. Martin states that 2002 was rewritten from scratch at the same time the name change was made from 2001 to 2002. I don't have the source code for any 2002 versions, so I am unable to confirm that. In any event, it has all the same features as 2001, plus many new ones. This is currently the most popular version available.
Tradewars 2002 has been purchased by John Pritchett/EIS Online. I don't know yet exactly what his plans are for future versions. This is the same guy that produce the TWGS game server to make it easier to play TW2002 over the Internet.
This version (like TW2001) is based on the WWIV/TP Tradewars II. The archive includes a list of feature changes, but I haven't looked at it in great detail. It's available from my download area in binary form. The author recently emailed me after running across this page. The source is not available, and there haven't been any new releases of it in a long time, but it did have some interesting features that later turned up in other versions of the game. He mailed me a copy of his last release of the game, so the version I have for download is now current.
This game was released by the author of Tradewars 1000, and provides a number of features not present in TW1K. It is not available in source form, but appears to be written in QuickBASIC. I'm not aware of any recent development on the game.
This version is written from scratch in C++. The latest version is always available from the Tradewars downloads section of this site. TW:TNE uses a custom client rather than a simple text-based connection. Version 0.09, which is currently in development and is available in prerelease form in the download section, uses a sectorless system. Ships move continuously rather than jumping from sector to sector. What other objects are visible depends on the range of your scanners. Future versions will include full star systems and a graphical map.