Source: Wikipedia, Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace , available under the CC-BY-SA License.
Al Escudero was a successful game designer with a couple of commercial titles under his belt working out of Vancouver BC, Canada in 1990. Escudero had started design work on a space battle game for SSI, and put in a few months of effort before SSI decided to kill the project. Design work continued for as long as it did because the decision to kill the project did not trickle down to the level of management Escudero was dealing with for 2 months after upper management killed the project. To make up for the loss of time and money, SSI quickly found another project for Escudero – Spelljammer.
Escudero designed the ship to ship combat and came up with the idea of using a 2D map, then using the distance between ships to scale the size of the ship’s bitmap and display it in a simple 3D view on one plane. He then designed the basic layout of all menus, the overall look and feel of the turn based hand to hand combat, and most other key parts of the game. At this time Cybertech Systems was actually just Escudero in his basement. Lead programmer Alex Russell was acquainted with him because he went to high-school with Russell's younger brother. Russell had done a couple of small porting jobs for Escudero in the past. Another programmer named "Zoid" worked on the game for a couple of months. As Russell had only been programming business systems up to now, Zoid’s knowledge of PC hardware was valuable at the start of the project.
Development took a little over a year. The first 6 months of work was done in Escudero's kitchen. Then SSI called up and said they were coming up to visit. Since Escudero didn't want to look like a low budget outfit he quickly rented a small office, where development was finished. After Spelljammer was finished, Escudero was instrumental in developing a multi-line BBS called Ice Online that ran a custom coded MUD. This turned out to be a quite successful enterprise that would eventually take up the whole floor of the building the original small office was in. EA eventually bought out Ice Online, took all the key employees and closed down the BBS.