Nova Game Designs came to be in 1981 out of the original named company, 'Gameshop', which James Rosinus started. In 1979, three other individuals joined James as equal partners in a revamped and (slightly) recapitalized 'Gameshop'. Each was to bring in their own game that was to be financed and published by each partner, with labor contributed by the others. Rosinus already had his game made, called 'Angola' about the 70's Civil War in that country, and was grandfathered in. Joe Angiolillo (sometime designer for SPI at the time) brought in a massive card game treatment of Norse Mythology named 'The Hammer of Thor'. Michael Vitale's contribution was a mini-game called 'Timelag' which was inspired by Joe Haldeman's book 'Forever War'. The major achievement of the beginnings of this company was the fourth entry, 'Ace of Aces', designed by Albert Leonardi. This was an innovative take on visual gaming prior to the availability of PCs. You can read about 'Ace of Aces' elsewhere on this site. It was debuted at Origins 1980 and there were only 200 copies available. It sold out within a day and a half, on word of mouth only. Gameshop had printed only 2000 copies as the first pressrun, and they were all promised out to distribution by the end of the weekend. The group immediately went back to press for 5000 more, but those were sold by early fall, and another 5000 was ordered. After that, it was reprinted in increments of 10000 for a time. After the first year, my memory fades. As I recall, in the first calendar year, over 20,000 copies were sold.
In 1981, because of an objection to the name 'Gameshop' by a chain of stores in the midwest with the same name, the group decided upon 'Nova Game Designs'. The logo seen above is the modified logo from later years. The first logo had the 'O' in 'NOVA" as an exploding sun.