Phantasia was a game originally conceived, designed and written by Edward Estes in his off time working for AT&T. It was released as public domain software on UNIX systems, so people were free to compile it for their systems, modify the code as they see fit. In the late 80's to early 90's, a copy was compiled and put on one of the machines at the Colorado School of Mines. Brian Kelly spent a great deal of time playing this game instead of going to classes.
As the web has become more popular, He decided that Phantasia would make an excellent internet game because, although people are playing together and interact, there is enough separation that network connections and player speed doesn't affect other players. As one person speeds along, barely reading anything, another person takes his/her time, with each player unaffected by the other.