Joel Billings’ Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) papers Edit


Finding Aid Author
Julia Novakovic
Finding Aid Date
7 January 2014
Description Rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of Description


  • 1976 – 2001 (Creation)
  • 1979 – 1996 (Creation)


  • 1.25 Linear Feet (Whole)

Agent Links



  • Abstract

    Joel Billings’ Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) papers are a compilation of corporate records from Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI). The bulk of the materials are dated between 1979 and 1996.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donor has not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, he has given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.

  • Conditions Governing Access

    Please see The Strong's Digital Games Files Access Policy here .

  • Custodial History

    Joel Billings’ Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) papers were donated to The Strong in April 2012 as a gift from Joel Billings. The papers were accessioned under Object ID 112.1517.

  • Preferred citation for publication

    Joel Billings’ Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) papers, Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong

  • Historical Note

    Joel Billings, an American video game designer, founded Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) in 1979.

    A wargame enthusiast from an early age, Billings realized that contemporary strategy game companies were not dedicating resources to develop computer versions of their analog games. While in college, Billings designed and programmed a simple wargame called Tank. After discussing his ideas with other game programmers, Billings began SSI with a modest investment. (Apple executive Trip Hawkins convinced Billings to program on the Apple II due to its graphics capability.) The California-based company successfully published its first wargame, Computer Bismarck, in 1980.

    SSI produced dozens of simulation games during the 1980s, branching into fantasy, science-fiction, and sports. In 1987, SSI acquired the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) license from TSR; that same year, Electronic Arts bought 20 percent of SSI. Billings’ company produced many AD&D titles in its popular “gold box” game series starting with 1988’s Pool of Radiance.

    Mindscape acquired SSI in 1994, following the loss of its lucrative AD&D license. Billings stayed on as President and CEO of SSI through December 1995. He later reevaluated his position and decided to step down as an executive to focus on game production and design. Mattel owned SSI before selling the company once again to Ubisoft in 2001. The SSI brand has been retired.

    Since 2000, Billings has been designing at wargame producer 2 By 3 Games.

  • Collection Scope and Content Note

    Joel Billings’ Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) collection contains a sample of corporate records from Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI). Document types include meeting minutes, business plans, financial statements, correspondence, statistics, news articles, and other documentation. Also in this collection are printouts of the BASIC computer code for the SSI games Tank and Computer Bismarck. The bulk of the materials are dated between 1979 and 1996. Additional scope and content information can be found in the “Contents List” section of this finding aid.

    Joel Billings’ Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) collection is arranged in one series which has been further divided into seven subseries. The collection is housed in three archival document boxes and one flat folder.

  • Related Materials

    The trade catalog collection housed in the library stacks at the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong contains SSI product catalogs from 1981 through 1996.

    The International Center for the History of Electronic Games at The Strong also holds dozens of SSI-published games.

  • System of Arrangement

    Series I: SSI corporate records, 1976-2001

    Subseries A: Historical information
    Subseries B: Business plans
    Subseries C: Meeting minutes
    Subseries D: Financial documents
    Subseries E: Research and statistics
    Subseries F: Computer code printouts
    Subseries G: Advertisements

External Documents


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    Joel Billings' Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) papers