|Gygax Module Publication Stats|
In the table above, I've taken my best stab at ordering Gygax's published adventures in chronological order of writing, but the truth is that's an immensely murky, possibly intractable problem. Clearly most or all of these adventures were initially drafted and run for tournaments or his personal campaign, years prior to their mass-market publication, so it's really possible that they could have been crafted in almost any order, irrespective of their publication/copyright dates. But here are some broad observations:
The first wave of published modules are all designated as having been created for D&D tournaments in the era of 1975-1978; this would initially be the various S-modules, then G1-3, and then D1-3. Publication dates follow fairly closely from these tournaments, either the same year or seemingly a few years later. An interesting case is the famed G1-3 adventure used at Origins IV in 1978; the Dragon issue #19 from October 1978 had a players' memoir of the tournament, and editorial sidebars made sure to promote the modules then on-sale: "The setting for round one is available from TSR... it costs $4.49". (Note the 1978 monochrome printing has a cover starburst correctly saying "Official D&D Tournament Module used at ORIGINS '78", while the 1981 color printing for some reason incorrectly indicates "Origins 79 Tournament Module").
Somewhat unexpectedly, it is the earliest modules in the S-series that had some of the most elaborate production values. S1 and S3 include lengthy supplemental booklets of illustrations to show to players at given encounters. S4 had a supplemental booklet of many new monsters, not all included in the adventure; effectively a proto-Monster Manual II for a few years. No later productions ever rose to those heights of production value ever again. S3 in particular is a wild extravagance; it detailed the largest adventuring locale, and greatest total page count, of any Gygax adventure except for his very last one, T1-4 (as well as the most new items and new monsters, excepting S4's special monster booklet). Acaeum notes that G1 was published somewhat earlier in 1978 than S1, and that earlier ziplocked versions of S4 from the 1976 tournament have been traded on Ebay.
Later published adventurers are not noted as originating from tournament play, and instead generally express being rooted in Gygax's original Greyhawk campaign setting. Allusions to the EX1-2 and WG6 adventures are made in the past tense in the 1979 Dungeon Master's Guide (see p. 112), even though the weren't published until the 1983-1985 time period. Likewise, the 1979 print of T1 references the Greyhawk T2 campaign in the past tense, yet the latter was also not published until 1985.
None of these later works have the elaborate supplemental illustration or new monster packets. Usually they include at most a handful of new monsters, spells, and/or magic items -- almost all of which were subsequently folded into the Unearthed Arcana and Monster Manual II rulebooks. More of the later works tend to have extensive wilderness adventuring components: e.g., B2, WG4, EX1-2, and WG6 have very sizable outdoor components (in fact, WG6 is effectively nothing but a wilderness scenario). T1-4 has a suggestive overland map, but it is not keyed. In contrast, of the early modules, only S4 has an outdoor adventure, and that is noted expressly as not having been part of the original tournament.
It's interesting that each of the S- and WG-series have something of an "interloper"; both those series are written by Gygax except for a single entry by someone else. Specifically: S2's famous dungeon-crawl by Lawrence Schick, and the WG5 entry by Robert Kuntz (with Gygax listed as second author, but the work is clearly Kuntz's). WG5 is particularly interesting, in that it seems to be a throwback to a much earlier style of dungeon design; in the Introduction Kuntz writes that the dungeon was originally designed in the years 1972-1973, giving it conceivably the earliest birthdate of the bunch; it has many empty, unkeyed rooms, few (almost all new) monsters, and very little treasure. (In contrast to Gygax's work, none of these new monsters were folded into later AD&D hardcover rulebooks.) Likewise, the Q1 module was authored by David Sutherland, with Gygax listed as secondary author, perhaps mostly for marketing purposes. None of these modules S1, Q1, or WG5 are included in the statistics here.
Have any scraps of knowledge that would alter the attempted timeline given above? Tell us!