A History of Ultima
Akalabeth - The Seed that became Ultima
Screen shot from Apple Akalabeth, the late 70's
Richard Garriot was spending much of his free time fiddling  with a game he was creating for the Apple II in the late 1970's. He called  the game Akalabeth. He was working after school at a computer store  in Texas, and he showed the owner of the store the game. The owner was  impressed to such a degree that he, unbeknownst to Richard, sent a copy  of the game to a major software publisher in California, who instantly  bought the game. This game became a huge success and certainly meant a  personal triumph for Richard Garriot.
Akalabeth has recently become available in a PC-compatible version as well as the BASIC source code for the game.
The Age of Darkness
Ultima I - The Beginning
Screen shot from PC version of Ultima I, 1986 version
After the success that Akalabeth became, Richard Garriot made up plans  for his next project, which would be a role-playing game set in a  medieval environment.
  In 1980 he was finished with it and  sold it to California Pacific Computer Company. Ultima I was intended as  a sequel to Akalabeth, and this is an aspect of this story that is  unknown to me.
Ultima I introduced the tile-graphics engine that we can find in almost    all of the Ultima games today. This new in-game perspective(in combination  with the old first-person perspective from Akalabeth) was that which most  strongly contributed to the success of Ultima I.
After Ultima III had been released, Richard Garriot returned to this  project to give it an update to the standards of the middle 1980's. The  new version of Ultima I was released in 1986, and it is that version that  is available today. The original Ultima I is even more clouded in mystery  than Akalabeth; this is another black hole that needs to be filled.
Ultima I takes place in a world called Sosaria. It is a world where  vile monsters roam the land in search of people to prey upon. It is a land  in which the ethereal energies can be harnessed and controlled by the strong  will of a mighty wizard. It is a land in which an evil wizard with a strong  will has started to realize his perverted vision of himself as leader over  the entire land, and all people and creatures his slaves. The necromancer  Mondain has summoned hordes of monsters to aid him in his cause  of evil. Stopping him will not be easy, because he is not only protected  by his armies of monsters, but he is also... immortal!