Minecraft is a popular sandbox video game created by Markus “Notch” Persson and released by Mojang Studios in 2011. With its simple yet creative gameplay involving building structures and environments out of textured cubes, Minecraft quickly became a worldwide phenomenon. An important part of Minecraft’s success was the introduction of multiplayer servers, allowing players to interact and build together online. But what was the very first Minecraft server, and when was it created?
The Beginning of Minecraft Multiplayer
When Minecraft was first released in May 2009 during its early developmental stages, it was strictly a single player game. There was no option or capability for online multiplayer.
The only way for multiple people to play together was through LAN (local area network) connectivity.
In June 2009, Notch mentioned the possibility of adding cooperative play to Minecraft sometime in the future.
Fan interest grew around the idea of playing Minecraft with others online. At the time, Minecraft’s client-server networking model made multiplayer implementation difficult.
Classic Multiplayer and InfiniMiner
The first steps toward official Minecraft multiplayer arrived in August 2009 with the release of Minecraft Classic.
This web browser version allowed simple cooperative multiplayer through a shared IP address. Up to 8 players could connect to a single server and build together in real-time.
Around this time, some enterprising developers began creating unofficial third-party Minecraft servers.
One of the very first was InfiniMiner, created by Robert Figueiredo in July 2009. InfiniMiner implemented a multiplayer version of Minecraft Classic by reverse engineering its protocol.
InfiniMiner allowed an unlimited number of players on a server. It kickstarted the Minecraft multiplayer community and paved the way for larger official servers in the future. At its peak popularity, InfiniMiner had over 400 active users across 12 servers.
Survival Multiplayer Arrives
In September 2010, a major Minecraft update called Survival Mode added survival elements like crafting, mining, and monsters. This changed gameplay dramatically, but multiplayer still relied on the limited Classic servers. Players longed for Survival Mode multiplayer.
Late that year, Minecraft user sk89q developed a piece of software called Minecraft_Server to add unofficial Survival Mode multiplayer support.
It enabled features like world persistence and user authentication that were missing from Classic.
Soon after that, Bukkit was released as an open source Minecraft server project to improve support for mods and plugins. Early Bukkit contributors included sk89q, Spout creators Pr0methean and skull132, and others. Bukkit quickly became the dominant platform for Minecraft multiplayer servers.
The First Big Minecraft Multiplayer Servers
As interest in multiplayer skyrocketed, the first large public Minecraft servers emerged in 2011. Servers like CraftBukkit and EsperNet attracted thousands of active players who built, explored, and battled together online.
Some significant early Minecraft multiplayer servers included:
- 2b2t – One of the longest running anarchy servers, founded in December 2010.
- Minecraft Online – A creative building server started in January 2011.
- EsperNet – Popular for survival gameplay and minigames after launching in January 2011.
- CraftBukkit – Home to competitive play like Capture the Flag which drove early popularity.
- Hypixel – Launched in April 2011 and still one of the largest Minecraft servers today.
These pioneering public servers cemented Minecraft as a must-play multiplayer experience and inspired countless other servers that followed.
Mojang Offers Official Support
In November 2011, the standalone Minecraft 1.0 release finally included official support for multiplayer Realms servers. Mojang also partnered with Minecraft hosting providers to help players manage their own servers more easily.
The huge demand for multiplayer ultimately convinced Mojang to make it a priority. Minecraft creator Notch stepped back from development shortly after, selling Mojang to Microsoft in 2014. Under Microsoft, the Minecraft team has continued advancing multiplayer features.
Today Minecraft enjoys one of the largest and most dedicated multiplayer gaming communities ever. But it took those early innovative servers to prove Minecraft could be so much more than a single player game.
The passion of the Minecraft community is what transformed Minecraft into a legendary multiplayer experience.