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What comes into mind is M.U.D. (Multi-user Dungeon) but i guess there were other perpetual online games before that?
On a side note i can't help to think that kids today will never learn to appreciate the importance of the 70s-80s computer and video games. Sure, they know about Halo, the Wii and Mario, but long before this there were a vast amount of excellent games and machines laying the foundation. What wasn't that common i guess was online games - so which "MMOs" came before Ultima Online and the likes?