LambdaMOO finds new pasture

The U.S. Department of Defense has a bunch of Dungeons & Dragons-playing computer geeks to thank for its collaborative computing system.

According to PlaceWare Inc.’s Web site, the company was started in 1990 by a group of engineers from Xerox PARC who developed technology to play a primitive form of interactive D&D over the Internet called multi-user dungeon.

The underlying game technology, called LambdaMOO, was used by the U.S. armed forces to create interactive computing and by PlaceWare to develop its current Web conferencing products.

As a nod to its heritage, PlaceWare continued to host LambdaMOO for current Web users at its Mountain View headquarters. But now that Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp. owns PlaceWare, LamdbaMOO is packing up and will be run out of a volunteer’s home.

“LambdaMOO is moving into private hands for the first time,” says Pavel Curtis, a founder of Mountain View-based PlaceWare Inc. and keeper of the LamdaMOO source code.

Curtis says LambdaMOO has been running off antiquated spare parts for more than a decade and actually will be on better equipment running off its new home-networked DSL server.