I just became aware of this raging debate on RPG.net called "Old School: Freedom Or Fascism?".
The basic question is the OSR (old school renaissance) looking at OD&D through rose-colored glasses, or was OD&D really all that great?
The correct answer is no we are not looking at it through rose-colored glasses and yes it really was (and is!) that great a game.
I only recently discovered this thread because Mr. Lizard updated his website and posted it on there. It looks like an interesting site with some interesting RPG related topics. As far as I'm concerned this world is big enough to include all types of gamers, all types of fans, and all types of RPG's. Personally I love the "cutting-edge" independent RPG's as well as slick modern RPG's and everything in between. But my heart is really in that period just before the release of 2nd edition D&D, when it felt like I could participate in the creativity of the game. I didn't have to have a rulebook that spelled everything out. I didn't need a fully-fleshed out campaign world with modules that had the story all worked out for me. That mid-1st edition era is the sweet spot for me. Dragon magazine from issue 1 to 100 was a consistant level up in quality. Before the trending down of the 2nd edition era. (Oh, there where some bright spots in that period too. Dark Sun was very interesting, and Planescape was extremely imaginative).
Of course, all of this is my experience with the game. Everyone had a different experience. And really to call anything better or worse is based more on personal taste than on anything we could remotely call objective.
But from this vantage point, 35 years after the game was first published, looking back at it all. I can say there have been a lot of variations, a lot of interesting ideas, but that original boxed set of 3 booklets contained the essentials of RPG's and have yet to be bested. Polished, tweaked, better production values? Sure. But the basic set-up has yet to be improved on: a DM, players with defined characters, some rules that were more common guideline than law, a set of odd dice, your imagination, and a destination filled with adventure and mystery.