History of Judges Guild
1975 Dec Bob got laid off when General Electric closed its factory in Decatur, Ill. in December 1975... but... "Prior to the closing, I had a long discussion with Bill Owen and Marc Summerlot in which I proposed... a venture in the War Gaming field."  That went nowhere, though, for the time being.
1976 Apr

Bob decided to try again on a "less ambitious scale".  One of the many campaigns Bob was running included the huge City State (note that, at the time, Bob ran his D&D games in Middle Earth, and the City state was in a land "through a gate found in the Misty Mountains").  Marc didn't want in at the time (though he joined in later, obviously), but Bill (who's games were based on Mythological Wales) decided to jump in on it.

1976 Jul Bob and Bill went to visit TSR.  The two of them needed a Guild to belong to so they started it on the 4th (One year before this Judges Guild fan was born).  Judges Guild was thus incorporated.
1976 Aug

Their goal was to sell stuff that they found helpful in their own campaigns.  TSR then seemed to look down on play aids for D&D and thought no one would buy this sort of stuff.  Bill said "I think that they thought we'd gone overboard with detail and ambitiousness.  I did several breakeven studies and with $200 investment we bought 4 print runs of the giant (34"x44" total size, we couldn't afford printing the map that size and so it was actually 4 17"x22") City State of the Invincible Overlord map."  They barely got it in time for GenCon.  Bill drove up with another friend (Bob was too exhausted to go) and they didn't even have a booth purchased at the con.  Bill talked them into letting him put the giant map with beautiful toasted Judges Guild banner "Bob was always 'toasting' treasure maps with cigarettes and electric burners on his stove over it."  People picked up the little flier offering a subscription to the bimonthly play aids service... or if they wanted the maps unfolded, Bill offered to give them to them rolled.  "As I'd take them out to my Mustang in the alley (the maps were in the trunk) more than one guy asked 'Is this legal?'  I'd say 'No, don't tell anyone'.  And I figured that that would get them to tell everyone."

Bob got there on Saturday, got a table, and they started selling even more.  People were wondering about the details of the places on the map.  Because so many people were asking about the City State, Bob figured they could make more money by selling the details as well, so he came up with the idea of the subscription service.  He started selling subs to the City State at the show on Saturday.  The cash flow from those initial maps and the first orders that flew home to their mail boxes allowed them to break even the first week of business.

Then, after the show, Bob went home and started writing it... he did most of the writing, while Bill handled the printing.  The first printing was the White True First, and it was when they got it back that they realized two things:

1) They had forgotten to put the copyright notice on the booklet.  Bob didn't want to send them out, but he realized that he needed to get that first sub set out, so they were to be shipped to those who bought subscriptions at Gen Con, until they got the Brown Cover with copyright notice later in 1976 (Bob could not recall at the time the exact month of that).

2) Between Bob completing his layout of the set and Bill getting it printed, Bill added "Initial Guidelines Booklet I" to the top of the booklet, "I" for "Initial Issue," as he felt that it would help spur sales.  Bob thought it was a silly idea, but had to go with it from then on, and that's why they went on later with "J'," "K," and so forth!

Bob said they sold about 40 to 50 subs at that first Gen Con, and continued to sell subs like gangbusters through mail order thereafter.

They had their momentary flush of success when Bill got the call from TSR saying we are withdrawing your right to publish our copyrighted material... unless you pay a royalty.  "Push us hard enough and we'll fall over, and who will more effectively make your mishmash of game playable and organized?"  They negotiated with TSR for and eventually got the license.

From Gary Gygax: "The license arrangement with JG was made by Brian Blume, not me.  He gave them permission to use the TSR copyrighted works you note (Ed - Chainmail, Greyhawk, Dungeons & Dragons).  I disapproved of the arrangement, as there was no TSR quality control."

1976 Sep While writing Booklet "I", Bob and Bill come up with the Dungeon Tac Cards and publish those first (product #2).
1976 Oct

"I" (product #3) is printed.  Of course, Bob didn't want to send out the white copies, so he sent it out only to those who had subscribed at GenCon and were thus already waiting on their subscription.  (Note: One mailer included the original 4-section map, and Gen Con IX dungeon tourney module by Bob Blake)

At some point Bob also did the 17"x22" Player's Map of the City State (product #4).

Bob called the printer to get more copies of the original 4-section map, but the printer screwed up and printed them on 17"x22" paper, giving birth to product #9.

1976 Oct-Dec Bob then destroyed the remainder of the White cover "I"s when the Brown cover "I" was printed. 

The Initial Installment was then sent out, which consisted of:

Five dungeon levels (I-1 to I-5), three chart sheets (I-6 to I-8), City State Player Map (I-9 to I-12), a Brown cover "I" (I-13 to I-28), Journal issue #0, I-29 and I-30 -- all in one envelope.

1976 Nov Product #9 (City State Judges Map) is released.
1976 Dec The first employee was Norma Bledsaw (Bob's wife), who was the first to get paid. Bob was working furiously on expanding the City State, and by this time was ready to release the 40-page (grown to 56-page) Guide to the City State of the Invincible Overlord (product #10).
1976 1977 Dec-Jan Developing Thunderhold, Bob releases that with a series of general guidelines as the 16-page Thunderhold "Installment J," along with 4 dungeon levels, an RR, and the JG Journal "J" (issue #1).
1977 Jan Bob went full-time with Judges Guild.
1977 Mar Bill went full-time with Judges Guild.
1977 Apr Bob's sister Debbie went part time.
1977 Aug
GenCon 77 was at the Playboy Club at Lake Geneva.  Bill says, "We hadn't thought to bring shopping bags as we had a real booth this time.  I got a pile of free laundry bags from the resort and I'm convinced that some of the D&D fans were buying our stuff so they could have a souvenir bag with the Playboy bunny on it!"
1977 Aug-Sep Finally Bill wore himself out working two jobs and for Judges Guild full time (80-90 hours week) then got sick.  He sold his half of the business to Bob... "and I have marveled to this day that Bob can be so prolific of a designer, writer AND game player... all at the same time. I admit that once I'd made my hobby my business, I needed (a different) hobby!"
1978 Feb-Mar Judges Guild moves to 1165 N. University Ave.
1978 Apr On the 10th they celebrate the move.
1980 Apr Judges Guild moves to R.R. 8, Box 9, 1221 N. Sunnyside Rd.
1982   TSR pulls the license.
1985   Due to economic conditions Judges Guild is forced to close its doors.
1999 Mar Bob Bledsaw, Jean McGuire and Greg Geilman formerly reopened Judges Guild with the opening of the www.judgesguild.com website (the site has since changed hands to Necromancer Games).
1999 Aug
The Revised City State of the Invincible Overlord and Pegasus 14 are released.
2001   The Dark Tower and The Treasury of Archaic names are re-released through RPGRealms.
2002 Jun Necromancer Games acquires the license to print Judges Guild products.
2003 Nov Necromancer Games releases its first Judges Guild product for the d20 license: The Players' Guide to the Wilderlands.
2008 April 19th Bob Bledsaw passes away.