A History of AVSIM
By the Staff of AVSIM Online
Revision Date: April 24, 2009

Tom Allensworth had operated a Bulletin Board System from 1983 until approximately the fall of 1995. The BBS had started as the CAPENET while he lived on Cape Cod during the early ‘80’s, and was renamed THE VINE (The Virginia Information Network Exchange), when he moved to central Virginia in 1987. By the middle of 1995, the Internet was taking hold and the BBS concept seemed limited at best, when compared to the then international potential of the Internet.

Tom became a flight simulation enthusiast when he purchased his first computer, an Apple IIc in 1983 and had happened to purchase BAO’s Flight Simulator to go with it. He had taken flight lessons in the early ‘70’s for his PPL and had to drop out of active flying for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the lack of funds as a poor former sailor back at college using the G.I. Bill to get through. So, with the discovery of Bruce Artwick’s wonderful Flight Simulator 1, he was back in to aviation no matter the tenuousness of the connection.

Closing the VINE BBS was one of the toughest decisions he had to make. After 12 years of operation in one form or another, it was difficult to shut down. As time past however, Tom felt the need to get back into the online world in some fashion. In the closing months of 1996, the concept of AVSIM was born.

The initial concept for AVSIM was pretty straight forward. Write articles and capture images of the Flight Simulation genre, put it all into a neat HTML magazine format and a well packaged zip file, and make it available for download among the major library servers on the Internet (notably, the file library system run and maintained at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania – one of the first major file libraries for flight simulation). The first issue was uploaded to IUP and elsewhere on March 1st of 1997. Tom's original intent was for it to be a monthly magazine. That did not last long.

You can see the first online issue on the WayBack Machine. You can download the very first edition here: Volume 1, Number 1 - March 1, 1997. You can download other early issues from the links below.

It became rapidly apparent that the flight simulation community was growing by leaps and bounds. Add-on releases, Freeware and other important growth enablers were happening at a blinding pace. A monthly magazine was not going to be adequate to report news that was indeed happening multiple times a day. Since the magazine was published in HTML, the answer was obvious. In April of 1997 AVSIM went online with its own, fledgling, web site.

Early Downloadable Issues:

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