1984 Richard Wilcox Software (used only once, to publish their new game, "Blue Thunder")
1984 Elite Systems, Inc. - name changed to Elite Systems
So how did it all start?
Elite Systems began life as Richard Wilcox Software in August 1984, based in Walsall, England. This name was only used on one release of software, Blue Thunder, written by a 16-year old called Richard Wilcox.
Work on Blue Thunder began when Richard took a look at some of the ZX Spectrum software available at the time and decided that he could do better. He did. Roping in his father, Brian (47), to help market the game, Richard Wilcox Software came into being and Richard began a career as a games programmer.
In September 1984, they then expanded their in-house programming force to cope with the fiercely competitive home computer market, and with a company motto of ‘Right Product, Right Price, Right Time!’ Elite Systems Ltd was formed with the launch of their new game, Kokotoni Wilf. It was a pretty good game, too, intended to be a Jet Set Willy-beater and things were looking good for the Wilcox family.
The new Elite team comprised Rory Green, responsible for graphics design, Neil Bate, a series 65 programmer, Andy Williams and Stephen Lockley, both Z80 based machine programmers, Paul Smith and Pat Maisey on the administration side and Richard Wilcox’s brother Steve (24) , as sales and marketing manager.
Elite's first "hit" game was the officially licensed game based on the popular TV show, Airwolf. This made the top 5 list for Christmas 1984.
For a while after, Elite's fortunes took a bit of a dip. They got involved with licencing deals and released a couple of titles which weren't so hot. They had the licences, but the software let them down somewhat - Dukes of Hazzard and 911TS. All the same, Fall Guy got a respectable rating, and Grand National was better still. Then followed a game that put them firmly back in the running - Frank Bruno's Boxing - which narrowly missed being a CRASH Smash and did very well in the charts.
They followed this with a licensing deal involving three of Capcom's arcade hits, starting with Commando, which once again hit No. 1. The next year they capitalised on arcade conversions again with Tecmo's Bombjack, Capcom's Ghosts 'n' Goblins, and Atari's Paperboy, the latter being voted Game of the Year in 1988. With the success of these titles, Elite grew quickly and became one of the significant publishers to come out of the UK.
In all, Elite has produced approximately 75 titles, many of them licensed conversions from arcades, television and movies.