The Directors ran the game for much of its early history. In the beginning, each empire had its own director, and there were directors assigned to oversee particular parts of the game's coded systems as well.
MacGyver was, and is, the head director of the game.
Directors set IC and OOC policy for their empires, selected empire admin teams, wielded the ultimate powers to @nuke or @pcreate players, and generally were the final word on everything.
The Directors to serve on TOS included Cornwell, Jo, S'cryn, Athaorh, Findal, Alfred, Shadow, Andy, K'tohk, and Izick. All of them were selected personally by MacGyver, who had gotten to know them well through their early participation on TOS.
Under the TOS Rules of War, only directors could declare war.
When the existing directors began to retire or drift away, MacGyver decided that rather than entrust similar powers to players he did not know as well, he would appoint no new directors. In 1999 he announced the end of director appointments (allowing a few who held it to retain their power if they wished) and established the Head Admin position, a somewhat less powerful position that fulfilled many of the same functions.
It has often been said (including by this writer) that Mac "abolished" the position of director; this is not technically accurate, since a few people holding that position remain as holdovers from the old days. But he did make clear that he had no intention of appointing new ones, and transferred all responsibility for running the empires from the directors to the less powerful Head Admins, who did not have the ability to access any of Mac's proprietary code.