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Flight Simulator started life as subLOGIC's Flight Simulator, created by Bruce Artwick and Stu Moment, in 1979, and featured black and white wireframe graphics with a very limited scenery consisting of 36 tiles. This was released for the Apple II and Tandy TRS-80. In 1981/1982, Microsoft obtained the license to port the product to the IBM PC. This version was released in November 1982 as Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.00, and featured an improved graphics engine, variable weather and time of day, and a new coordinate system (used by all subsequent versions up to version 5).
In 1984, Microsoft released Flight Simulator 2 for IBM PCs. This version didn't differ too much from MSFS1; the graphics were somewhat improved, as well as a more precise simulation in general had been created. The new simulator expanded the scenery coverage to include a model of the entire United States, although the airports were limited to the same areas as in MSFS1. However, compatibility with subLOGIC Scenery Disks was provided, which were released in the following years, gradually covering the whole USA, Hawaii, Japan, and part of Europe.
Flight Simulator 3 improved the flight experience by adding additional aircraft and airports to the simulated area found in MSFS2, as well as improved high-res (EGA) graphics, and other features lifted from the Amiga/ST versions. The three simulated aircraft were the Gates Learjet 25, the Cessna Skylane, and the Sopwith Camel. Flight Simulator 3 also allowed the user to customize the display; multiple windows, each displaying one of several views, could be positioned and sized on the screen. The supported views included the instrument and control panel, a map view, and various external camera angles.
Version 4 followed in 1989, and brought several improvements over MSFS3. These included amongst others; improved aircraft models, as well as an upgraded model of the Cessna Skylane, programmable dynamic scenery (non-interactive air and ground traffic on and near airports moving along static prerecorded paths). Like FS3, this version included an upgraded converter for the old subLOGIC Scenery Disks into SCN files.
FS5 (1993) is the first version of the series to use textures. This allowed FS5 to achieve a much higher degree of realism than the previous flat-shaded simulators. This also made all add-on scenery and aircraft for the previous versions obsolete, as they would look out of place. The bundled scenery was expanded (now including parts of Europe).
FS98 (6.1) (1997) is generally regarded as a "service release", offering minor improvements, with a few notable exceptions: The simulator now also featured a helicopter (the Bell 206BIII JetRanger), as well as a generally improved interface for adding additional aircraft, sceneries, and sounds.
FS2000 (7.0) was released in 1999 as a major improvement over the previous versions, and was also offered in two versions; one version for "normal" users, and one "pro" version with additional aircraft.
FS2002 (8.0), released in 2001, improved vastly over previous versions. In addition to improved graphics, FS2002 introduced air traffic control (ATC) and artificial intelligence (AI) aircraft enabling users to fly alongside computer controlled aircraft and communicate with airports.
Flight Simulator 2004 (9.0): A Century of Flight, also known as FS9 or FS2004, was shipped with several historical aircraft such as the Wright Flyer, Ford Tri-Motor, and the Douglas DC-3 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight. The program included an improved weather engine, that provided true three-dimensional clouds and true localized weather conditions for the first time.
Flight Simulator X (10.0), released in 2006, known as FSX, is the tenth and final edition in the Flight Simulator franchise. It features new aircraft, improved multiplayer support, and improved scenery.