Star Traders

Star Traders screenshot

Star Traders is a simple text-based game of interstellar trading, where the objective is to create companies, buy and sell shares, borrow and repay money, in order to become the wealthiest player (the winner).

The current version of Star Traders runs under any modern Unix or Unix-like operating system that has a working C99 compiler. This includes, of course, Linux and Cygwin. Currently it can run in any one of nine human languages. Historic versions are available for MBASIC, CP/M-80, CP/M-86, MS-DOS and Windows 3.1.


The original (and very primitive) Star Traders game was written by S. J. Singer in 1984 using Altair Basic. This was modified for Microsoft Basic (MBASIC) running under the CP/M-80 operating system by John Zaitseff and released on 7th March, 1988.

Star Traders was then completely rewritten in 1990 for the Australian-designed 8-bit MicroBee computer running CP/M-80 on a Zilog Z80 processor, using Turbo Pascal 3.01a. Essentially, only the name of the game and some of the ideas were retained in this version. Version 4.1 of Star Traders was released on 1st August, 1991.

In 1992, it was recompiled for the NEC Advanced Personal Computer (with 8-inch floppy drives!) running CP/M-86 on an 8086 processor, using Turbo Pascal 2.0. This version had colour added to it in the form of ANSI escape sequences; version 4.4 was released on 2nd August, 1993.

The next version came in 1993, when the program was recompiled to run on IBM-compatible machines running MS-DOS and ANSI.SYS. Turbo Pascal 6.0 was used for this. The ANSI escape sequences were slightly different under MS-DOS than under the NEC, in that the NEC supported a number of extra character attributes. In other words, the MS-DOS version looked worse than the one running under CP/M-86!

Star Traders was recompiled again in 1994 for IBM-compatible machines with VGA/EGA/CGA video graphics adapters. The output routines were recoded to use a “windowed” look. Borland Pascal 7.0 was used for this purpose, along with a number of text window manipulation modules. Version 5.4 was released on 1st June, 1994.

In 1995, Star Traders was completely rewritten for the 16-bit Microsoft Windows 3.1 graphical environment. Microsoft Visual Basic 3.0 was used for this purpose. Although completely rewritten, the original algorithms were reused from previous versions. Version 6.0 of the game was released on 15th September, 1995.

Star Traders was then to languish until almost 16 years later… when the game was rewritten once again, this time in the C programming language. Version 7.0 was released on 25th July, 2011 for Unix-like operating systems such as Linux, with subsequent releases to add features and correct bugs. Now you, too, can run this small piece of computing history!


Click on any thumbnail to open up a full-sized version.

Current Version under Linux

Star Traders comes with extensive help on how to play
First, you enter the player’s names…
The map of the galaxy
You can check your status
Once you make a move, you may buy and sell shares on the Stock Exchange
Buying shares in a company
Borrowing money from the Interstellar Trading Bank
A winner is announced!
You can play a “retro-computing” green-screen version if you like

Star Traders in Croatian
Star Traders in Danish
Star Traders in English
Star Traders in Esperanto
Star Traders in Finnish
Star Traders in French
Star Traders in German
Star Traders in Norwegian Bokmål
Star Traders in Russian

Historic Versions

CP/M-80 screenshots, taken by running the MyZ80 CP/M v3.0 emulator under the DOSEMU DOS emulator for Linux:

Entering player names under CP/M-80
The map of the galaxy under CP/M-80
Player status under CP/M-80
Visiting the Stock Exchange under CP/M-80
Buying stock in a company under CP/M-80
Borrowing money from the bank under CP/M-80
The winner under CP/M-80

IBM-compatible machine MS-DOS screenshots, taken under the DOSEMU DOS emulator for Linux:

Entering player names under DOS
The map of the galaxy under DOS
Player status under DOS
Visiting the Stock Exchange under DOS
Buying stock in a company under DOS
Borrowing money from the bank under DOS
The winner under DOS

Windows 3.1 screenshots, taken under VMware Workstation:

The About box under Windows 3.1
Entering player names under Windows 3.1
The map of the galaxy under Windows 3.1
Player status under Windows 3.1
Visiting the Stock Exchange under Windows 3.1
Buying stock in a company under Windows 3.1
Borrowing money from the bank under Windows 3.1


The current version of the game is Star Traders 7.5 [tar.xz version, 432KB; tar.gz version, 864KB]. You may download the source code, as well as difference files, from the FTP repository for this package. Full installation instructions are available, including the prerequisites needed for building the package.

Precompiled binary packages are available for Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Mageia and Cygwin. An APT repository for Debian and Ubuntu is also available to make your life easier under those distributions of Linux.

You may look at the source code of Star Traders, download a read-only copy of the Subversion repository or browse the source code history.

If you would like to translate Star Traders into your own language, please see the Translation Project page for trader. Note that extensive comments are available in the POT template.

Historic versions of Star Traders are also available for your nostalgic download pleasure… All historic versions are relicensed under the GNU General Public License, version 3 or later.


Your comments, suggestions, corrections and enhancements are always warmly welcomed! Please send these to:

Postal: John Zaitseff,
The ZAP Group,
Unit 6, 116 Woodburn Road,
Berala, NSW, 2141,

Copyright © 1990–2014, John Zaitseff.

Star Traders is free software that is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License. You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of that License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 or (at your option) any later version.

This game is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.