Did you know that Microsoft has released over ten different flight simulators?
The latest Microsoft Flight Simulator was released in 2020, but do you know the beginnings of this legendary game?
To find out, there is this free project called FSHistory, which will allow you to play the first four Flight Simulators from 1982 to 1989.
Flight Simulator screenshot showing a plane flying over a city The first version of Flight Simulator was released in November 1982. Developed by Sublogic, this flight simulator featured monochrome wireframe graphics, simplistic landscapes, and a rudimentary gameplay experience. Nevertheless, it was praised at the time for its realism. Then in 1984, Microsoft released Flight Simulator 2.0 for IBM PCs. This version included minor improvements compared to the first version, notably in terms of graphics and more precise simulation in general. It supported joystick and mouse inputs, as well as RGB monitors (4-color CGA graphics), IBM PCjr computers, and (in later versions) Hercules graphics and LCD displays for laptops.
The new simulator also expanded coverage of the simulated region to the entire United States.
In 1988, Microsoft released Flight Simulator 3.0, which offered an enhanced flight experience by adding additional planes and airports to the simulated area found in Flight Simulator 2.0, as well as improved EGA graphics and other features from the Amiga versions/ST. FS3 allowed users to view the aircraft from the outside for the first time, with support for external views. This version also included a program to convert old Sublogic landscape disks into landscape files, which could then be copied to the FS3 directory, allowing the user to expand the FS world.
Finally, version 4.0, released in late 1989, brought several improvements over Flight Simulator 3.0, including improved aircraft models, random weather patterns, and dynamic landscape features. The base version of FS4 was also available for Macintosh computers in 1991.
It is therefore these first four versions that FSHistory wants to take you to discover. FSHistory is an emulator that works perfectly with mouse and keyboard and can even work on your smartphone. However, a real PC keyboard with all the keys matching is recommended for the best gaming experience.
On the technical side, the project is coded in C, which is quite logical for this low-level emulation. The code runs in the browser with just a few hundred lines of code and the dos.js lib.
It emulates an 8086 processor as well as elements of a 286 and 386 processor, a keyboard, a mouse, a graphics controller, etc. It also implements DOS and BIOS functions similar to DOSBox.
For the most curious, know that an Easter egg has been added in the special 40th-anniversary version of Flight Simulator. By pressing the ELT button on a Diamond DA62 on the track, you can access the first four versions of the game in DOS.
Microsoft Flight Simulator logo And guess what? It is this FSHistory emulator that is integrated into the Easter egg!