Charles S. Roberts (February 3, 1930 - August 20, 2010) was a game designer and railroad historian author who founded the popular wargame company Avalon Hill in 1958. He is widely recognized within the gaming and wargaming community as the "father" of modern board wargaming. He designed his first game Tactics in 1952, to strengthen his qualifications for a planned military career. From 1954 he began distributing and selling the game part-time, from Avalon, Maryland, as a business which four years later took the name Avalon Hill.
That year 1958, he and Avalon Hill introduced Gettysburg, generally accepted as the first board game reenacting an actual historical battle. Wargamers will still today find themselves familiar with its square, cardboard strength/movement counters with unit designation, with the Combat Results Table (CRT), as well as with the terrain game map, although the hex grid first made its appearance in the 1961 revision of the game. In fact this pioneering game met with relatively enduring success, undergoing multiple subsequent revisions, or rather remakes, most recently in 1988.
Although Roberts went on to publish several more games at the head of Avalon Hill, he was not closely associated with the most prolific and perhaps flamboyant years of that game company, as Roberts transferred its ownership to the printing company Monarch (later Monarch Avalon) already in 1962. Monarch Avalon Printing then ran Avalon Hill for the following 36 years.
Roberts himself proceeded to a new career in publishing Catholic books, although by his own admission, “not a Catholic and not, shall we say, with a reputation of being over religious.” And yet, he adds in that same autobiography (see reference below): “For the record, I love it.”
Since 1974, Roberts's name has also been associated with the annual, multi-category Charles S. Roberts Awards or "Charlies", given for excellence within historical wargaming.
"Charles was an admirable person, the most honest and ethical business man I've ever known." -- Thomas N. Shaw