Elite is a computer game written by David Braben and Ian Bell while they were students at Cambridge University. The game was released in 1984 for the BBC Microcomputer and its sibling the Acorn Electron. Cassette tape and disk versions were available for the BBC - the disk version featuring missions and extra ships

Elite was a triumph of game design in the first place, cramming all the necessary code into such a small amount of memory. But it was the unique open-ended nature of the game which would initially cause such a stir. As players got more involved it achieved classic status and was hailed by some as the best game ever made

The player would start equipped with a Cobra MkIII space ship, 100 credits in cash and a combat rating of Harmless. By travelling between different star systems and trading goods between them, the aim was to amass cash to buy extra equipment for the ship, including lasers and missiles which could be used in combat

Hyperspacing into dangerous star systems brought that combat equipment into use, fending off and destroying pirate ships and bounty hunters. The player's combat rating would slowly improve through nine rankings until, eventually, they were given the ultimate combat status - ELITE

With eight different galaxies, each with over 250 star systems of varying types, Elite was a huge game with much for the player to explore. Docking in each system was restricted to the space stations orbiting high above each planet and this was where all the trading was done

According to the type of industry prevalent in the system, some goods would be cheap to purchase while others would fetch high prices when sold. This was the basis of making money in the game

Watch the video opposite for a documentary all about the concept and making of Elite, including interviews with David Braben and Ian Bell

Elite - Boxed Games

This photo shows many versions of Elite, including the Acornsoft and Firebird releases for the 8-bit machines and also the 16-bit and Nintendo versions. Click the picture for a larger view, or click here to see a big picture with each version identified

Following the inital release on the BBC and Electron home computers by Acornsoft the rights to publish Elite on other machines were sold to Firebird. The game was, over the next few years, released on numerous other systems, each version varying according to the capability of the machine it was written for.

8-bit versions
BBC Computer
Acorn Electron
IBM PC / Elite Plus
Sinclair Spectrum
Commodore 64
Amstrad CPC
Tatung Einstein
Apple II
Nintendo NES

16-bit versions
Commodore Amiga
Atari ST
Acorn Archimedes