COMPUTIST (Jul 1981 – Jul 1993)
Hardcore Computing #1 – Photo credit: Mike Maginnis
By 1981, the Apple II software industry was going full tilt, and was making millions of dollars. But these successful companies feared the same scenario faced by Bill Gates when he discovered the original BASIC he had written was being widely copied and given away at computer club meetings. To address this (and sometimes just to keep programming secrets) software publishers devised a number of methods to make it harder to pirate their products. This was good for the publishers, but was bad for the honest software-buying public because they could not make legal backups for themselves.
To deal with this problem, some enterprising programmers created and sold software that made it possible to copy these protected disks, ostensibly for the purpose of making an archive copy in case the original went bad. The earliest of these programs were sold by Omega Microware (Locksmith), Sensible Software (Back-It-Up!), and Central Point Software (Copy II Plus). But these companies (particularly Omega Microware) had a problem. They were unable to advertise their products in the primary venue for software sales in the early 1980s: Apple II computer magazines. This was because when the software publishers (whose products would potentially be copied) learned that one of these copy programs was going to run an advertisement in an upcoming issue of a magazine, those publishers threatened a boycott of that magazine. Faced with a significant drop in revenue, and apparently taking the sides of those publishers, most magazines made the decision to refuse advertising for such products.
This action outraged Charles Haight. He stood on the side of those who felt it was their right to be able to copy software, to break the protection and the locks that had been placed on disks. Not only did he feel these programs should be sold just as freely as all others, he considered it a betrayal by the magazines towards their readers, and felt that the relationship between the magazines and the software publishers was just a little too cozy. Haight considered it an insult that he and others like him would be categorized as pirates simply because they wanted a backup copy of the software that they had legally purchased. His stance on this led Charles to start his own company, Softkey Publishing, in 1981. The expression of his hard-core stance was the title of the magazine: Hardcore Computing.
Haight made some strong comments in the editorial he printed in the very first issue of Hardcore Computing:
A magazine dedicated to the Apple-users
When I acquired my Apple II+, I examined the spectrum of computer magazines that contained information for Apple-users. The list was large, yet none truly met my needs. I was after a magazine that had useful information for a true Apple-user (someone who wanted to get into the “core” of the Apple and all its peripherals). Most seemed to be peddling software, and doing it very uncritically.
Then I became aware of a raging, silent battle between Apple-users and the magazines. The users were accusing the magazines of censorship, of hypocritically announcing their objective to be a magazine for Apple-users while encouraging the suppression of information (in this case, advertising about a program that would permit the user to make legal backups of protected disks). The magazines, on the other hand, were obliquely accusing the Apple-users of being pirates and thieves. It was then I realized that most of the magazines had to take a stance against consumer “piracy” because those magazines were financially dependent on other software houses. It would be suicide for them to stand up for Apple-users.
This problem became more apparent when “Locksmith”, a bit-copier that would make duplicates of many copy-protected diskettes, was censored (the magazines refused to publish the ad, thereby denying their readers the knowledge of the existence of such information.
That was censorship! And the battle was on. They knew that every serious Apple-user had both a need and a right to make back-up copies of protected disks.
Any magazine that took a stance against Apple-users could not be a magazine for me, no matter how large and profitable it was (for now I knew how they came to be so profitable; at the expense of their readership).
Computist 27 – Photo credit: Mike Maginnis
Haight stated at the end of that first editorial that he expected it to be difficult to publish his magazine, since he would not be supported by advertising revenue from software publishers whose products his magazine would be trying to unlock. He stated that he expected it to be supported primarily by subscription.
Certainly he faced an uphill battle. Not only was it going to be a challenge to get software companies to advertise in Hardcore Computing (except those who sold products like Locksmith), but the magazine was unable to advertise itself in other Apple II magazines. Like their ban on advertising products that could be used to circumvent copy protection, these other publications did not want to promote something that would be a source of education on the process of how to break that protection. Haight considered the withholding of this information as a type of censorship, and much of the first issue discussing the problem of copyrights and technology. The articles specifically stated that they were not in favor of duplication and distribution of unprotected software in such a way that deprived sales to the publishers and authors of software; they just felt it was wrong to make it impossible to make a legal copy for the use of the purchaser of the product.
After the first issue of 32 pages, there was an update that Softkey Publishing sent out in September 1981, with info that they wanted to get into the hands of their readers before the next issue could be completed. That issue #2 was released in October 1981, and was 64 pages long. Interestingly, it not only continued to give info about breaking copy protection, but also gave info about how to create copy protection. And an opposing view editorial was printed, giving the argument in favor of copy protection for some products (an editorial that the author admitted Haight as publisher strongly disagreed with, but was willing to print anyway).
In the third issue of Hardcore Computing from February 1982, further debate was held about the pros and cons of protection, and featured an interview with Mike Markkula of Apple Computer regarding comments he had made in favor of the elimination of copy protection at a Boston Computer Society forum in October 1981. The publisher also announced that he was splitting his publication into two magazines: Core, which was to be a quarterly magazine with each issue focused on a different topic, and Hardcore Computist, which would have eight issues per year and would continue to focus on methods of deprotecting software. These would all be covered with the same $20 per year subscription price.
In 1983, Softkey Publishing began to hit its stride, and the magazines produced began to take on a much more professional look. Despite Haight’s original concerns about having no one willing to buy advertising in his magazine, there were quite a few ads in these magazines from publishers who apparently did not feel the topics he wrote about were worthy of boycotting. The quarterly Core came out as planned, but only three issues were published. Issue #1 appeared in Spring 1983, and focused on graphics. Plans announced in that first issue stated that Core #2 would be about utilities, #3 on databases, and #4 was to focus on games. Although the second issue did indeed appear as planned, the third release of Core became the games issue, and the story about databases was delayed. Further topics in the “Core” category later appeared as a column in Hardcore Computist.
Computist 60 – Photo credit: Mike Maginnis
As for Hardcore Computist, issue #1 was released in the beginning of 1983, carrying on with the same focus as Hardcore Computing had done from the beginning. “Softkeys” were a list of steps needed to make a copy of a protected disk, and this first issue included Softkeys for Synergist Software’s Data Reporter, Microsoft’s Multiplan, and Infocom’s Zork. It also explained how to use parameters in Copy II Plus to copy a number of products. Further issues continued with more information about how disk protection worked, and how to remove it. Letters from readers also became a place to find new Softkeys to explain how to copy a particular product. The magazine also began to educate readers on how to trace the code used to boot a disk, using a specific product as an example. This knowledge helped users understand better how the copy protection process worked, and therefore how to better use the available copy products.
For the first four issues, the name “HARDCORE” dominated the title page. Beginning with issue #5, “Hardcore” appeared in smaller type, with “COMPUTIST” taking over a dominating position on the cover. They had not been able to achieve their goal of eight issues per year as had originally been planned, and so an advertisement in that issue announced the merger of Core with Hardcore Computist, and the plans for Core information on databases to appear in issue #6. Over the following year, the magazine reached its goal of twelve issues per year. Issue #27 dropped the name “Hardcore” completely from the cover.
Over the next several years, the magazine did well enough to stay in business. Each issue contained “Softkey” entries for various protected products. A column entitled “Input” contained letters from readers, sometimes with further information on copying disks. Another section called “Readers’ Softkey & Copy Exchange” allowed readers to send in their own Softkeys. Other articles might contain product reviews or hardware hacking projects.
Like most other Apple II publications, the shrinking Apple II market gradually had an impact on Computist. Although it began as a glossy format magazine, this was discontinued with issue #45 in 1987, to reduce printing costs. Editor Haight decided by issue #47 that he would increase the page count back to 48, which he hoped would offset the loss of the stiff cover. An editorial in that issue also stated that he was combining the “Input” and “Readers’ Softkey & Copy Exchange” pages into a single one, called “Readers Data Exchange” or RDEX (since the information in the two earlier columns seemed to leak across to each other). Furthermore, he had decided that it was too time consuming to try to verify each set of Softkeys that was submitted, and elected to just print it as it was proposed; the readers would notify the magazine if there were errors, as they had always done in the past. Haight also had to make changes in how writers would be paid for their contributions, to keep the magazine going. With that change, the magazine content shrunk to be primarily RDEX submissions and a catalog of back issues to purchase. Additionally, more and more readers were sending in their RDEX info directly on a floppy disk, which simplified putting it into the magazine (it did not have to be retyped and proofread). Eventually, Haight made it a requirement for submissions to come on disk.
Again, as a cost-savings measure, Computist changed again with issue #66 in 1989 it had changed to a tabloid format. Haight discussed the reasoning for this in that issue. By this time, the operation had reduced to Haight as editor, and one other person in charge of circulation. Volunteers who loved Computist and wanted to help keep it going handled the rest of the work to put out each issue of the magazine. Sales of back issues and of disks containing programs featured in those back issues also helped subsidize the Computist operation. But even with that help, the magazine was barely hanging on. Because of those costs, Haight had decided that changing to the tabloid format was the most affordable way to keep the magazine going, continue to put out the same volume of information, and avoid raising subscription fees (to which most readers had strongly objected). He also reduced the print schedule to eight issues per year. And like many other magazines, Haight felt that this decline was directly related to Apple Computer’s lack of clear support of the Apple II line.
Computist 89 – Photo credit: Mike Maginnis
Starting in issue #52, Computist began to include Softkeys for protected IBM-PC and the Macintosh program disks. By the end of its run, the publishing schedule became irregular, and rather than offering a subscription for 8 issues per year, the subscription was for 8 issues, whenever they would come out. Until the end of its run with issue #89, each new subscription still came with a tutorial by Wes Felty on disk de-protection and the use of a program called Super IOB.,
As a whole, Computist is a historical treasure for several reasons. One of them is that with the many, many products for which deprotection information was printed, these back issues contain one of the most comprehensive lists of Apple II software in existence, short of perusing ads from vendors in old magazines. Another reason is that it is a unique look at one side of the Apple II that no other magazine of the era provided. No one else took the controversial stand that Charles Haight did that it was the right of the owner of a piece of software to be able to make a backup copy of a disk, and no one else took such pains to make sure that this information was freely available to any and all. Without a doubt, the large number of disk images that are available at FTP sites for the Apple II would be much smaller if there had not been availability of this information on how to break copy protection. Without the knowledge that Computist accumulated, it would be difficult if not impossible to actually run this old software on emulators.
Copies of the magazine can be downloaded and read at Textfiles.com.
SOFTDISK (Sep 1981-Aug 1995)
SOFTDISK G-S (Nov 1989-Mar 1997)
One of the long-term survivors in the Apple II magazine world was also unusual in terms of the type of publication that it is. Rather than using the traditional paper and ink medium, Softdisk came on the scene as one of the first magazines distributed in only a machine-readable form. Back in 1981, Jim Mangham, a programmer at LSU Medical Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, felt that the time was ripe for an Apple II disk-based magazine. It would have the advantage of providing ready-to-run programs that did not have to be typed in, yet could still be listed and modified by the “reader” if desired. Mangham’s idea was not unique in the computer world as a whole; CLOAD for the TRS-80 began as a magazine on cassette as far back as 1978, and other paper publications offered companion disks as an extra, containing programs from a specific issue. But no one had yet put a whole magazine on disk for the Apple II, and Mangham decided to fill that gap.
Originally, he planned to call it The Harbinger Magazette and after getting a preliminary first issue prepared, he called Al Tommervik of Softalk magazine to discuss advertising. Tommervik thought it was a great idea, and not only did he want to advertise it, but asked to be a partner in the venture. He suggested that they change the name to Softdisk (since it would be, in essence, a Softalk publication). By the time Mangham was ready to mail out his first issue, he had fifty subscribers. Since he needed a minimum of two hundred pieces to qualify for a bulk postage rate, his father found one hundred and fifty disks appear in his mailbox that month.
Softdisk #10, Aug 1982, featuring Calc-Man, a game that was a cross between Pac-Man and VisiCalc – Photo credit: personal
To create his new “magazette”, Mangham chose to use double-sided disks that were pre-notched on both edges, to ensure that both sides would be useable. (Recall that the Disk II drive could only use one side of the disk, and so it was common to conserve money and use the other side by cutting a notch on edge of the disk opposite the factory one and flipping the disk over). These double-sided disks were expensive, costing him three dollars apiece, and so he set up the subscriptions to require return of the previous issue in order to get the next one (it was left up to the reader to make his own copies to keep). When the disk was returned with the five dollars for the next issue, the reader could also use a simple text editor on the disk to return any “letters to the editor” he might have, commenting on the previous issue’s contents or asking other questions. This return disk could also be used for submitting programs, pictures, or articles for use in future issues of Softdisk. Some of the subscribers that became prolific contributors of material even ended up working at Softdisk!
Softalk magazine provided free advertising for Softdisk, and the subscriber base gradually grew. Some of the revenue for the magazine came from subscription payments, and some came through advertising. Ads for Softdisk were sold by the disk sector, and provided an advertiser a unique opportunity; he could give a potential customer a chance to actually see the program being sold. Some of the ads could be animated (usually using the text screen to use less disk space), and were actually entertaining. This was most prominent in the ads Softdisk had for their own products; by 1983 they had begun a line of software called “Rich And Famous” (which they said was what the authors wanted to become). Consisting of programs written by regular Softdisk contributors, these disks sold for $9.95 apiece, and a $4 royalty on each disk went to the author. The disks offered various types of games, including hi-res graphics adventures and card games, office-based utility software, general Apple II utilities, and disks of music (in Electric Duet format).
Each issue of Softdisk had a “cover” which consisted of a hi-res picture and the issue number. These eventually were created to look just like the Softalk logo, except the globe in the upper right corner was animated. Starting in August 1983, Softdisk expanded to two double-sided disks, and the two-way subscriptions now requested that only one of the two had to be returned. One-way subscriptions were also available by now, for those who didn’t want to bother having to return the disks. By January 1984 (issue #27), Softdisk became available through retail stores (primarily computer stores, but later also through bookstores) at the price of $12.95 per issue. They also began putting out a disk magazine called “Loadstar” for the Commodore 64 computer in June 1984, at a price of $9.95 (since it was a single disk per issue it cost less).
As mentioned earlier, Softalk magazine folded after its August 1984 issue, leaving the future of Softdisk somewhat in doubt. In return for some benefits that Softalk had provided (free full-page ads, space in their booth at computer shows, and permission to include some programs from the magazine on Softdisk), it had part-ownership in Softdisk. Since Softalk was now bankrupt, the possibility existed that Softdisk would be absorbed into the liquidation of assets. To avoid this outcome and to ensure the future of the magazine, Softdisk purchased back its shares from Softalk‘s creditors (at a price probably higher than what they were worth) and continued on their own. Although a few ads were placed in remaining Apple II magazines after that, Softdisk continued primarily on word-of-mouth referrals (which didn’t increase circulation by much). Sales of some side items (primarily blank disks) helped keep the company going during this difficult time.
In May 1985, the two-way disk subscriptions were discontinued, and Al Tommervik started a brief tenure as editor-in-chief. He helped develop a more professional appearance for the magazine (and for Loadstar), through higher quality graphics and cover design. When Greg Malone began as editor-in-chief in late 1985, he continued the improvements by starting a graphics-based presentation in favor of the older text-based method they had used from the beginning.
Softdisk, Inc. added a disk magazine in 1986 for the IBM PC, called Big Blue Disk. At this time Softdisk magazine itself began including re-releases of older commercial software whose publishers were willing to inexpensively release publishing rights; they also began to publish some newer shareware programs. The first series of “reprints” were games previously released by Polarware/Penguin Software.
By 1987, Softdisk began again advertising itself in magazines. This began a large expansion in circulation for the Softdisk magazette and their other disk publications. Later that year saw the changeover from the older DOS 3.3 operating system exclusively to ProDOS (beginning with issue #73). This issue also saw the start of a more attractive graphic user interface that supported use of a mouse (as well as the keyboard), and had pulldown menus and animated graphics. Within the next year or so, retail distribution of their publications was discontinued (booksellers were not leaving the products on the shelf long enough to allow them to sell) and distribution returned exclusively to a subscription basis.
Softdisk G-S #82 – Photo credit: personal
The first issue of Softdisk G-S was released in November 1989, supporting the Apple IIGS desktop interface guidelines. This publication maintained a high standard of quality and did well while the Apple IIGS lasted.
After issue 113 of Softdisk, the previous programming team had moved on to create games in the IBM PC world, and Peter Rokitski was hired to do programming for each issue of the disk magazine. By the end of its run, Softdisk for the Apple II was literally run by Rokitski alone, as he filled the role of programmer, editor, quality assurance and issue assembler, doing everything but duplicating and mailing the disks. The last edition of Softdisk was #166, completed in August 1995. Rokitski later became the editor for Softdisk GS, and continued in that position until its last issue, #82, was released in March 1997.
As of May 2002, Softdisk, Inc. existed primarily as a web-hosting and Internet storefront service, as well as a purchase-and-download site for Windows, Macintosh, and Palm OS software. Softdisk’s monthly disk publications were gradually discontinued, with Loadstar for the Commodore 64/128 having lasted the longest. Big Blue Disk for the IBM PC later was later renamed On Disk Monthly in 1991, and then became Softdisk CGA (for non-graphics-based PC’s) and Softdisk PC in 1993. Softdisk CGA ceased publication in 1996, and the same happened to Softdisk PC in 1998. Softdisk for Windows ran from 1994 until 1999. Diskworld for the Macintosh was launched in 1988, changed to Softdisk for Mac in 1993, and discontinued in 1998.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was not uncommon to see CD or DVD compilations of Apple II software becoming available for sale. These were not commercial products, but typically were collections of shareware or freeware software that had been released during the life of the Apple II platform. During 2002 inquiries were made to the owners of Softdisk, Inc. about whether the full collection of Softdisk and Softdisk G-S could be made available through their online store. They went one step further; they made a deal with Syndicomm to distribute all of the issues of Softdisk, Softdisk G-S, and UpTime on CD collections. This new product was announced at KansasFest 2002, and is still available here.
A+ (Nov 1983 – May 1989)
A+, November 1983
Ziff-Davis, who published other computer magazines such as Creative Computing began publishing A+ in November 1983. This new Apple II magazine carried primarily hardware and software reviews and consumer-oriented articles. It was somewhat similar to the later merged magazine, inCider/A+, in terms of being a general interest Apple II magazine as opposed to the programming slant of Nibble (A+ had virtually no type-in programs). During the time that both A+ and inCider were being published, it appeared that there was a type of rivalry between the two.
A+, November 1985
One of the features unique to A+ was a column called “Product All-Stars.” a classified-style listing of the current popular software and hardware similar to the old “Fastalk” column in Softalk magazine.
During the latter part of the A+ publishing run, Gary Little became its editor. He had previously written books about the Apple IIe, IIc, IIGS, and their disk operating systems, and so was very qualified to know the computer and its uses. He replaced Lisa Raleigh, who left to take a job with Apple Computer. Not long after, and just prior to the magazine’s merger with inCider, Gary Little also was hired away by Apple. It was felt by some subscribers that Little’s short stint with A+ significantly improved the magazine, and they were saddened to see him go.
When Creative Computing had ceased publication in 1985, subscribers found their remaining issues were switched over to A+ by Ziff-Davis. In 1989, the publisher chose to discontinue A+, and allowed it to merge with inCider magazine.
INCIDER (Jan 1983 – May 1989), INCIDER/A+ (Jun 1989 – Jul 1993)
inCider, February 1984
This magazine was originally begun by Wayne Green, who had been involved in technical magazines for many years. As mentioned above, it was not a programming magazine, though it carried columns that answered reader’s questions about programming as well as other Apple II questions. The main direction that it has seemed to take over the years was in helping advertise available software and hardware, and carry articles that helped Apple II users learn to use the software they owned. These columns included “AppleWorks In Action” by Ruth Witkin; “Press Room” by Cynthia Field (which detailed ways to do desktop publishing with Print Shop , Publish-It!, AppleWorks GS, and GraphicWriter); “Bridging The Gap” by Gregg Keizer (discussing ways to help the Apple II and Macintosh work peaceably together); “Apple IIGS Basics” by Joe Abernathy (highlighting programming on the IIGS); and “Apple Clinic” (questions and answers about using Apple II computers).
In 1989 inCider merged with A+, as mentioned above, and in December 1990 the editors chose to broaden their audience by adding coverage of the Macintosh computer to their Apple II features. This was a highly unpopular move with many Apple II loyalists, who had already had quite enough of Apple Computer telling them to “move up” to a Mac. “Polluting” their Apple II publication with this better-loved younger sibling infuriated many, and they vowed to let their subscriptions expire. However, at this point in time there were few national Apple II-specific publications remaining, and no others that appeared on the magazine racks at large newsstands (since Nibble had gone to subscription-only distribution). Apparently inCider‘s distributing company, A+ Publishing, felt that they couldn’t survive without making some attempt to broaden their customer base, and they chose this as what they felt was their best defense in a shrinking market. For several months afterward, the magazine got just a little bit smaller in size, eventually going from a square-bound back to a stapled format. This shrinkage stabilized in early to mid 1992, and by late that year, inCider/A+ was still in business.
inCider, December 1986
However, rumors began to surface in October 1992 about plans by inCider to change to a format that would focus almost entirely on the Macintosh, with significantly less attention paid to the Apple II. Initially, it was said that inCider/A+ would cease under that name with the January 1993 issue, and would reappear as just A+ in February 1993. Reasons cited at the time were declining advertising revenue, and they hoped that by changing themselves to deal with the Macintosh in more detail (particularly from the point of view of educators), they could continue to be printed.
Cameron Crotty, Associate Editor of inCider/A+, stated online in the A2 Roundtable on GEnie during October, “inCider/A+ is going primarily Macintosh. The shift will occur in February and will probably include a name change (not finalized). WE WILL CONTINUE TO COVER THE APPLE II FOR AS LONG AS IT REMAINS FEASIBLE. I cannot say (because I do not know) whether the coverage would be mixed in or in a separate section (input would be appreciated). With the shift in focus, we are also trying to enlarge the book…”
He also said, “Right now, inCider/A+ has two choices: 1) stay with the Apple II and be dead in 6-8 months or 2) shift to the Mac and try to survive. We believe that there is a low-end Mac niche at least as large as our current circulation (perhaps larger), and that most of our readers (75% or more) will maintain their subscriptions (numbers from editorial surveys & such). We also believe that we can attract the advertising we need to survive by shifting to the Mac. We may be wrong. We may be dead in 6-8 months anyway. But a change has to be made. We cannot survive on our current course.”
There was, of course, considerable discussion of this planned move on the A2 Roundtable on GEnie. Some advertisers, like Quality Computers, threatened to withdraw their advertising entirely, if such a move took place. Perhaps it was because of statements like this, or perhaps Crotty spoke out without authority to do so. In any case, there was considerable back peddling on the announcement that began to appear. Joe Kohn, who had been writing a column in inCider/A+ called “Shareware Solutions” for some time, stated that he had been told that there had as yet been no corporate decision to make any changes, and previous statements should be disregarded.
inCider/A+, July 1993
inCider/A+‘s new Editor-In-Chief, William Kennedy, wrote an editorial for the February 1993 issue of the magazine. In his editorial, he made great pains to point out that the rumors that had been flying about were never accurate from the beginning. Yes, with the March 1993 issue they had plans to redesign the layout of the magazine, and probably put the Mac stuff in a separate section, but he stated firmly that it would remain oriented to the Apple II.
However, it was eventually clear that IDG Communications, the company that printed the magazine for A+ Publishing, was not going to continue to produce what they viewed as a losing venture. Quality Computers, which had decided by early 1993 to start their own Apple II magazine, arranged to take over inCider/A+‘s remaining subscription base and fulfill it with their publication. inCider/A+ ceased publication with the July 1993 issue, but ended it as abruptly as did Softalk, with no announcement to subscribers to make them aware of the change until Quality Computers sent a letter discussing it. IDG then planned to begin a new Macintosh publication called Mac Computing, utilizing most of the old inCider/A+ staff. However, after the first issue was produced and distributed, IDG changed their minds and terminated the project.
If the editors of inCider/A+ had chosen to maintain their focus on the Apple II, and had not taken the unpopular move of becoming a combination Apple II/Macintosh publication, perhaps they would have survived longer. Perhaps things would have still turned out as they did, even if they had remained true to their original topic. In any case, with the disappearance of inCider/A+, so also ended the era of newsstand Apple II magazines. t
SCHOLASTIC MICROZINE (Mar 1983 – May 1992)
Microzine #1 – Photo credit: personal
Scholastic Inc. was originally founded in 1920 to publish youth magazines. By the 1940s the company expanded into publication of paperback books for school children. Dick Robinson, son of the company founder, became president in 1974 and chairman in 1982. Aware of the developing software market in education, Robinson started a software publishing division at Scholastic that same year that he started as chairman.
The first two employees of that division were Deborah Kovacs, hired as Creative Director, and Stephen Gass. They first marketed a school edition of Brøderbund’s word processor, Bank Street Writer. Later, a software developer named Dan Klassen, who headed ITDA (Information Design Technology Associates), came to Scholastic with an idea for a computer-based magazine on disk. Klassen had previously worked with MECC (Minnesota Technology Design Associates), which had been involved in getting Apple II computers into schools in Minnesota in the late 1970s, as well as development of numerous educational programs. He had met with the editor-in-chief Claudia Cohl of Familiy & Home Office Computing Magazine to discuss this idea, and Cohl connected him with Deborah Kovacs.
Klassen had envisioned a monthly disk magazine that would include four programs, plus games, utilities, and interactive fiction. As he and Kovacs of Scholastic discussed the concept, it was determined that it was impractical to produce this type of product on a monthly basis, and it would be more realistic to put out four issues per year. They worked for quite a while in creating the first issue of what they called “Microzine” starting in the summer of 1982. By the fall, they had two additional staff members, Jeff Siegel (who became the Editor) and Bob Neumann. Dan Klassen’s group worked on the design and software development for the disk magazine, and the Scholastic team worked on the visual appearance and creative and editorial content. Their target audience was school children in grades 4 to 6.
Microzine #26 – Photo credit: personal
The first issue of Microzine was first displayed at the January 1983 Consumer Electronics Show, and was available in stores by March 1983. The box containing the first issue was in the unusual shape of a parallelogram, and contained a mystery adventure that involved exploring a haunted house, a computerized notebook for keeping “secret” information, a program for creating computer graphics, and an interactive interview with Robert McNaughton, who played Elliott’s brother Michael in the 1982 movie, E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial. After the second issue of Microzine came out, the parallelogram box was replaced with packaging more typical of computer software being sold in stores.
Scholastic stayed with the originally planned schedule of publishing Microzine as four issues per school year. Each issue had an interactive text adventure, called a “Twistaplot”, a type of “Choose Your Own Adventure” story that Scholastic was also selling as a print book at the time. The magazine also had a program that demonstrated something that a computer could do (such as a word processing or database use), another program, and a final smaller program the emulated some of the content of a print magazine (letters to the editor, jokes submitted by readers, and a puzzle). The second editor of Microzine, Amy (McKinley) Kefauver, stated, “Our goal was to make the kids able to use the programs without ever having to ask for help. The programs were designed to have a help screen constantly available by pressing the ‘?’ key.”
Lorraine Hopping Egan wrote some of the scripts for stories on Microzine, and later with Microzine, Jr., which was for grades K-4. That disk magazine appears to have only been distributed for a short time. Story adventures that Egan wrote include:
- Escape from Antcatraz – explore a doomed underground ant nest as you search for an exit
- Quest for the Pole – an Arctic adventure based on the doomed Franklin expedition
- The Balloonatics – a language arts learning adventure for Microzine Jr., which took kids around the globe
- Safari! – point-and-click adventure game for Microzine Jr., to play as one of 6 animals—zebra, elephant, hyena, and so on; the “right” choices would depend on which animal one was playing as.
UPTIME (Oct 1984 – Dec 1988)
Uptime #1, Oct 1988 – Photo credit: personal
UpTime was a magazine on disk started by Bill Kelly in 1984, initially operating out of his father’s basement. The first issue was only for the Apple II, and shipped seventy-two copies. During its early run Kelly called his publishing company “Softyme”. The cost was $7.50 per issue, or $48 for a one-year subscription, which was less than the cost of a subscription to competitor Softdisk. Like Softdisk, UpTime was shipped as a two-sided disk, with additional content on the backside.
The first issue contained a number of software offerings, including ten games, plus a card game by Paul Zelman (who had previously published his games with Softdisk), two home programs (a database and a check book), a program to create pie graphs, a horoscope program, and a disk map utility. There were reviews of word processor Format IIe (rated as very good) and ALA Payroll One Step (rated as not so good).
By 1986, the subscriber base was up to 35,000, and a Macintosh version was in the works. The subscription rate had increased to $66 per year for the Apple II edition, and the Macintosh subscription was expected to have an annual subscription rate of $90. By this time, Kelly had as many as 300 programmers submitting content to the magazine.
A year later, and Kelly’s publishing company had been renamed to Viking Technologies, and claimed a combined circulation of 50,000 for his disk magazines, with different versions covering the Apple II, Commodore, Macintosh, and IBM PC.
Later issues of UpTime were distributed with Diversi-DOS as the included disk operating system on the 5.25-inch disks. Some of the UpTime issues for the Apple II were distributed on 3.5-inch disks, and these used Gary Little’s AmDOS (which allowed DOS 3.3 to run from those disks). Lane Roathe and Michael Hoffman designed a graphic user interface for the UpTime desktop program that began to be distributed during the last eighteen months of its run.
UpTime v13n12, Dec 1988 – Photo credit: personal
Also during the last eighteen months of UpTime, several different people served as editor of UpTime, including Dan Gutman and Jay Wilbur. And in the last year of UpTime, a young programmer named John Romero was contributing content to the magazine. He created a graphics system called GraBASIC, which worked as an extension to Applesoft. It was featured in the last three issues of UpTime, with programs that demonstrated its uses. And in the final issue of UpTime, Romero had created a game that used his GraBASIC system. It was first of a one of the most famous games he had written: “Dangerous Dave In The Deserted Pirates Hideout”. The game itself is most significant because of the series it became part of, which ultimately led to Romero’s formation of id Software and the many blockbuster games for the IBM PC that Romero helped create.
After the last issue of 1988, UpTime was acquired by Softdisk Publishing, and Lane Roathe and John Romero began to work with that disk magazine.
OPEN-APPLE / A2-CENTRAL (Jan 1985 – Jan 1995)
Open-Apple, January 1985
As mentioned previously, Tom Weishaar was a writer of Softalk‘s “DOSTalk” column beginning in April 1983, after Bert Kersey retired from the position. He continued with it until Softalk went bankrupt after the August 1984 issue. An Apple II user since 1980, and author of two programs sold by Beagle Bros (Frame-Up, a graphics slide-show displayer, and ProntoDOS, an enhanced version of DOS 3.3), Weishaar had previous experience with writing newsletters from his days with the Commodity News Service in Kansas City. After Softalk folded, he realized that there was still a market for a technical publication for the Apple II that also could be helpful for the beginning user. In January 1985 he began with a newsletter he called Open-Apple, which continued where “DOSTalk” left off. The initial issue (Volume 1, No. 0) included reader’s letters (some left over from DOSTalk, but some intentionally phony, with return addresses like the Okefenokee Swamp), information about Applesoft and Logo, and one response to a reader asking how to create a disk that would boot without DOS 3.3. At $24 for a monthly eight-page newsletter, its subscribing cost was as much as full-sized magazines of the day. However, Open-Apple did not carry any advertising, and the amount of useful information printed each month made it worth the expense.
As the newsletter matured over the years, the coverage of Logo disappeared, and Applesoft dwindled as well, reflecting changes in reader interests. During the late 1980s, coverage of AppleWorks was heavy, and nearly every issue would contain some way to patch the program to customize it for a certain function. Coverage of the IIGS was also prominent, and Weishaar and his various editors struggled to find a balance between articles that dealt with the new technology without ignoring the sizeable number of readers who still owned the older 8-bit Apple II models.
A2-Central, June 1993
In December 1988, the name of the newsletter was changed to A2-Central. Several reasons were given for the change. One was similar to the reason given by A.P.P.L.E. for changing its name to TechAlliance; Apple Computer was in the habit of threatening legal infringement against those who used “their” name without permission (or at least licensing it). Another was to indicate philosophically what was the purpose of the magazine: To be the center of the Apple II universe, and a central source of information and programming resources. Earlier in the year, Weishaar had also agreed to be the manager of the Apple II roundtables on the online service GEnie. This extended the information available to him for his publication, as well as the ability for more prompt exchange of information for his readers. In fact, there was a great similarity between the conversations that took place on GEnie, in the reader questions section of A2-Central, and the old “Open Discussion” part of Softalk magazine. New users could ask “how do I get XYZ program to run with my ABC printer?.” and experienced users could help them, either online or in a letter written to A2-Central.
Because the newsletter included international readers as well, and these people had difficulty in getting their hands on certain Apple II-related products or books, a catalog was added to the A2-Central line-up in early 1989. This initially carried books, but quickly expanded to include software and hardware. February 1989 also saw the first of “A2 On Disk”, which included a text file of the current month’s newsletter, as well as an assortment of the latest shareware and freeware programs for the Apple II. At times it also contained text files with useful information (such as updates to the official Apple II tech notes).
September 1989 saw a change in editors for A2-Central. After nearly five years of working constantly on it, Weishaar turned over the reins for the month-to-month work to Dennis Doms, and moved himself to the position of publisher. There was little change in the content or style of the newsletter (since Weishaar was still running the show), but it freed him to recover from the burnout of meeting a monthly deadline, and to work more on managing the company itself. One of the new items that appeared in December 1989 was a disk-based publication called Stack-Central (later changed to Studio City). What was unique about this bi-monthly product was that it was based on HyperStudio, the graphics, sound, and text manipulation program from Roger Wagner Publishing. As such, it could be read in a “non-linear” fashion; that is, you didn’t have to start at the beginning and read through until you got to the end. You could jump from one topic to another, or thread through topics in a fashion that could not be duplicated in a printed publication.
Resource Central disks
More new disk-based products appeared from A2-Central in 1990. August 1990 saw the start of TimeOut-Central, devoted to AppleWorks and the TimeOut series of enhancements distributed by Beagle Bros. It was also a bi-monthly publication, and was originally edited by Richard Marchiafava, who had previously written a column called “AppleWorks Advisor” for user-group newsletters. In March 1991 the editorship was transferred to Randy Brandt, the Beagle Bros programmer who had written many of the TimeOut applications, as well as several for his own small software company.
8/16-Central, specializing in programming for both 8-bit Apple II models and the IIGS, began in December 1990. It was a continuation of a short-lived magazine called 8/16, published by Ross Lambert’s Ariel Publishing Co., which itself was preceded by several separate newsletters that specialized in Applesoft or assembly language or other programming for the Apple II series. 8/16-Central was a monthly disk, but didn’t keep enough subscribers to stay afloat. In October 1991 it was discontinued, and the remaining subscriptions were folded over into GS+ Magazine. Later, the contents of the entire run of 8/16-Central were upload as individual file archives to A2Pro on the same exclusive basis as were the Apple Assembly Line files previously mentioned.
Weishaar’s organization began to carry Hyperbole in March 1991. Produced by an outside source, it was also a HyperStudio-based disk publication, but its focus was not on making HyperStudio stacks, but on actually using the program to produce a literary form that had never been done before. It consisted of poetry, art, and sounds, combined together in a way that could not be presented in printed form. For example, one series of stories that appeared early on in Hyperbole involved a medieval theme, with the story told from various points of view, depending on which picture was selected on the “door” that introduced the story. To get the entire story required going back to the main door and selecting a different picture. Sound and graphics were also integrated into articles that appeared in this disk-magazine.
Finally, Script-Central began in June 1991. This was similar to Stack-Central, but was dedicated to HyperCard IIGS . It featured some animated sequences that introduced it, and the user could select the articles to read by pointing to doors in the Script-Central “building” on the screen, and follow hallways to other articles (sort of like combining a magazine and a video game).
A2-Central itself experienced few changes during these years. Its focus shifted slightly to keeping abreast of the newest changes in the Apple II world (in terms of products and events that affect that computer), whereas previously it spent a lot of time talking about various specific products (such as AppleWorks, HyperStudio, etc.) The spin-off disk publications that were started filled the niche needed to continue user-support of those Apple II products. The editorship changed a couple more times as well; Jay Jennings briefly took the place of Dennis Doms as editor in November 1991, before going to work for Softdisk. Ellen Rosenberg began editorship after that, and made the change of accepting feature articles from outside authors for the first time since A2-Central began publication.
When Nibble magazine folded in 1992, A2-Central took over their subscription list, filling out remaining issues for those people. It was hoped that many of those people would see enough value in A2-Central to renew when the time came, but not enough readers did so. Weishaar started up a new paper newsletter called Fishhead’s Children, intended to be a resource for those who had to bridge themselves between the Apple II, Macintosh, and MS-DOS computers. However, the new publication did not have enough subscribers to maintain a positive cash flow, and in June 1993 a letter was sent out to both Fishhead’s Children and A2-Central subscribers:
Dominoes are falling at Resource Central and you’ve been hit.
As the Apple II nears the end of its life cycle, renewals to our flagship publication, the paper version of A2-Central, have fallen to less than 20 per cent. That domino has been teetering ever since we took over Nibble‘s subscribers a year ago.
We had hoped to stabilize the situation with a new publications, Fishhead’s Children, which would take us into new territory. Unfortunately, that publication hasn’t been the success we had hoped it would be. For each $100 we’ve spent trying to obtain new subscribers, we’ve taken in less than $10. We can no longer carry this expense without putting our entire company in jeopardy, so that domino has ceased publication and fallen.
Without a successful Fishhead’s Children, there’s nothing to pay the even-increasing bills the paper version of A2-Central is running up. A2-Central-On-Disk continues to have strong renewals, as do our other disk publications, but they’re not big enough to continue supporting our paper publications. It all means that I have no choice but to cease publication of the paper version of A2-Central as well.
The letter went on to explain that the value of remaining subscriptions (not counting the old Nibble people) would be credited to the subscriber’s account, and could be refunded or applied to another product sold by Resource Central. A2-Central-On-Disk would continue to be produced as it had before; it cost much less to duplicate and mail disks than it did to print and mail paper newsletters. This would also be the place where the newsletter A2-Central would continue to appear (in a digital, rather than in a paper format).
A2-Central on Disk, February 1992
A2-Central, January 1994
The January 1994 issue of A2-Central-On-Disk was renamed to simply A2-Central. Dean Esmay, who had been editing the disk publication from its beginning, went on to work with Softdisk in Louisiana, and newcomer John Peters came on as editor. The appearance of the text was dressed up in a manner similar to that used in the GEnieLamp online newsletters, which Peters had been overseeing for several years. Not himself an Apple II user at the time when Weishaar signed him up, Peters gathered several veteran Apple II writers to assist in producing the text of the newsletter each month, and in collecting the freeware and shareware files that were included with each issue. At this time Steve Weyhrich’s own independent monthly news compilation, the A2 News Digest, became exclusively a part of A2-Central. (The Digest had previously been available on GEnie as source material for Apple user group newsletters.) Doug Cuff, who was editor of the A2 edition of GEnieLamp and a contributing editor for II Alive, was also tapped to write articles for A2-Central. Peters continued the practice started by Ellen Rosenberg of soliciting articles written by other authors not routinely associated with A2-Central.
Peters was also commissioned to coordinate work on Resource Central’s disk publications for the Macintosh (called Macrocosm), and IBM and compatible computers (Solid Windows and Config.Sys, for the Windows and MS-DOS user, respectively).
The disk newsletter, catalog, and other disk publications continued under the corporate umbrella of Resource Central, Inc., which also sponsored annual summer conferences from 1989 through 1994. These conferences brought together some of the top Apple II developers in the country for two days of classes and workshops on many topics. Held in Kansas City in July or August, it had been nicknamed “Kansasfest” since it contained AppleFest-like activities. In its last year, Resource Central had renamed itself to ICON, for “International Computer Owners Network”, so the final conference was named “ICONference”.
A2-Central, January 1995
The gradual slide of interest in the Apple II continued over the year that Doug Cuff edited the disk-edition of A2-Central. The quality of the publication continued to be high, but due to continued financial constraints, ICON had to take the difficult step of shutting down operations in February 1995, bringing to an end all of their still-existing disk publications.
Weishaar’s interest in and dedication to the Apple II has been much appreciated; he was chosen s a recipient of the Apple II Individual Achievement Award for 1991. His philosophy was summed up in a statement made in a printing of the A2-Central catalog in the Fall of 1990, where he wrote: “The significant thing about the Apple II has always been the community of people that has sprung up around the machine, teaching other people how to use it, designing hard and software for it, exposing its inner flesh to the light of day, and using it to manage businesses, run church groups, educate children, and turn out prosperous and happy human beings.”
II COMPUTING (Oct 1985 – Jan 1987)
This magazine ran from October/November 1985 until December/January 1986-87, by the same publisher who started Antic magazine for the Atari 8-bit line of computers and later STart magazine for Atari’s 16-bit computer line. Trying to appeal to a variety of readers from beginners to experienced Apple II users, it printed program listings (including at one time listings made for the Cauzin strip reader), reviews, and general articles. It covered items in more depth than inCider, but less than Call-A.P.P.L.E. or Nibble, offering a combination of both type-in programs and general articles. It had available a companion disk available containing the programs in the magazine.,
II Computing, October 1985 (first issue) – Photo credit: Allan Bushman
APPLE IIGS BUYER’S GUIDE (Oct 1985 – Oct 1990)
Apple II Review, Fall 1985 cover – Photo credit: www.apple2online.com
Redgate Publishing was started in 1981 by Ted Leonsis. The company created a computer magazine called LIST, which printed hardware and software reviews for MS-DOS and CP/M computers (and a “list” of available software). When Steve Jobs was getting ready to release the Macintosh, he was concerned that customers would have the impression that there were only a few applications available for it. Through the help of Guy Kawasaki at Apple, Leonsis met with Steve Jobs and agreed to make a version of his review magazine for the Mac. Jobs provided Leonsis with the names of all of the third-party companies who were making software for the Macintosh, and these companies were solicited for a list of their products to be run for free in the magazine. Also included in that offer was the opportunity to run ads in this publication.
The first issue of The Macintosh User’s Guide came out at about the same time as the Macintosh was released, and was shipped to all Apple retailers. Apple considered this publication to be so important to the company that it actually paid Redgate Publishing one dollar for every issue they printed, in essence subsidizing its launch.
The Macintosh User’s Guide was a great success for Redgate, and a year later the company began work on a similar magazine for Apple II users. Paul Pinella, who was Editor-in-chief at Redgate, was felt to be ideal to lead the project. He was an Apple II enthusiast who had owned an Apple II Plus long before he began to work at Redgate. He helped create Redgate’s The Apple II Review, and stated in the first issue that the goal of the magazine was to look at the newest and best products available for the Apple II, and do hands-on reviews of them. Over fifty were reviewed for the first issue, including software, hardware, and accessories.
Though the goal was to run The Apple II Review as a quarterly publication, the second issue did not appear until the spring of 1986. Redgate had chosen a particularly difficult time in which to launch a new magazine, just after the 1984-85 era when several pioneering Apple II publications had gone out of business due to insufficient income from advertising (including Softalk, Peelings II, and Apple Orchard) and the onset of competition in 1983 from large publishers such as Ziff-Davis (A+) and CW Communications (inCider). One additional issue was released, Fall/Winter 1986, and then Redgate put out a single issue of a magazine called Apple IIGS Graphics & Sound for Fall 1987.
Apple IIGS Buyer’s Guide V4N1 Fall 1990 cover – Photo credit: www.apple2online.com
By this time, it was clear that Apple had positioned the Macintosh as its main focus, with the Apple IIe and IIc relegated mostly to the education market. Since the Apple IIGS was much more Mac-like, Pinella and the management at Redgate hoped there would be some co-development of similar products for the Mac and IIGS, and could potentially have more advertising revenue to support an Apple IIGS magazine. They decided on naming it The Apple IIGS Buyer’s Guide, to connect with the existing Macintosh Buyer’s Guide, and they planned to have a similar release schedule (quarterly), with the first issue appearing in Fall 1987 (along with the above-mentioned Apple IIGS Graphics & Sound magazine).
In his editorial in the first issue of this renamed magazine, Pinella was effusive over the potential of the year-old Apple IIGS, and said that the magazine was still all about the reviews of products, focusing on those that were unique to the IIGS. By the Spring 1989 issue, the magazine also included an extensive Apple IIGS Hardware and Software Directory, listing multiple products, what they did, and they name and address of the company that produced it. The editor changed to Ron Errett starting with the Spring 1990 edition. The 14th and final issue was released in Fall 1990, and the cover boasted “More than 650 Product Listings and Descriptions”, and focused on educational software.
The demise of The Apple IIGS Buyer’s Guide came about because of the realization that the advertising market Redgate had hoped for never materialized. With some rare exceptions, makers of Macintosh products and Apple IIGS products usually did not come from the same company. Also, Apple was putting less and less of its company resources on the Apple IIGS, so Redgate had to withdraw and puts its efforts primarily on the Mac version of its guide.
In 1993, Redgate Publishing was acquired by America Online, which took ownership of all of Redgate’s magazines, whether in or out of print. In 2010, the administrator of the web site Apple2online.com contacted America Online, and obtained permission to host high quality scans of The Apple II Review and The Apple IIGS Buyer’s Guide on that site.
APPLEWORKS FORUM (Aug 1986 – Dec 1995) / NATIONAL APPLEWORKS USERS GROUP
Warren Williams first learned about mainframe computers while he was getting his doctoral degree at the University of Rochester in 1965. He continued to do statistical and research work with similar computers at Eastern Michigan University. With the release of microcomputers in the late 1970, he made an effort to learn about them, as he could see that they would have an impact on education. He started on a borrowed Apple II in 1979, and then bought his first computer, a TRS-80 Model II in 1980. He started teaching classes on the use of computers in education in 1980, but had a problem finding software that was both powerful and also easy. He moved on to the new Apple IIc when it was released in 1984, and the subsequent release of AppleWorks that same years met his requirements of power and ease of use.
During the summer of 1984, Williams wrote a manual for his classes on how to use AppleWorks. It worked well, and he began to give talks about the use of AppleWorks. About this same time, Williams met up with Cathleen Merritt, who was working towards a second Master’s degree, in Educational Technology. Williams hired her to help with these presentations at conferences and meetings. Merritt likewise was impressed with the power offered by AppleWorks, and began teaching other graduate students about it.
Williams and Merritt continued to work with and give presentations about AppleWorks over the next two years. After a talk they gave in 1986 at the Michigan Association of Computer Users for Learning conference, an audience member suggested the formation of a national user group focused on AppleWorks. Over one hundred interested people stayed on after their talk to discuss how to make this happen. The National AppleWorks Users Group (NAUG) was first announced that year in April at the Educational Computer Conference in San Diego. In August of that year, they mailed out the first issue of NAUG’s newsletter, AppleWorks Forum.
The pair continued to give introductory and advanced talks about AppleWorks across the country, and this provided publicity about NAUG. From 1987 to 1988, they gave more than 75 seminars in 60 cities across the country, with attendance typically from 80 to 150. This resulted in many people applying for membership in the organization. They reached a maximum membership of 16,000 from 51 countries in November 1990, the world’s largest computer user group, and did not drop below that number until late 1991. By 1993, NAUG had over 8,000 active members, and nearly eight times that many who had expressed interest in the group at one time or another. These members drew from every state in the United States, and from forty-two countries around the world.
Two NAUG members, Tim Harrison and Richard Lewandowski, helped create a BBS for NAUG in June 1988 to help members communicate with each other. That BBS started on an Apple II Plus, and increased to three Apple II computers that were networked together, handling three phone lines. In 1993 it was handling 50 to 80 calls per day, and provided over 200 MB of downloadable files (primarily AppleWorks templates created by the members).
AppleWorks Forum v10n1 front page – Photo credit: personal
Volunteers played a large role in making NAUG work. There were 150 members who provided their contact information for other members to call them with questions about AppleWorks. It ultimately provided a 24-hour resource, provided the member was willing to pay long-distance charges (some of these volunteer members were as distant as Australia and China!) During 1988 online help was also offered via email, primarily through CompuServe accounts.
The newsletter was written each month using articles contributed by members, as well as monthly columns such as Stan Hecker’s “My Favorite Template” and Keith Johnson’s “My Favorite Macro”. Cathleen Merritt would share potential articles with some volunteers who would help with the selection for each month’s issue. The final copy was then delivered to Nanette Luoma, a graphics designer and page layout specialist, who transferred the articles from disks in AppleWorks format to Quark Xpress on a Macintosh, and then printed the final result on a LaserWriter. These pages were then reproduced in a high-density final format and printed by a local service bureau. William Marriott and two other volunteers did this job during the run of the newsletter.
In an interview with Phil Shapiro in 1993, Williams told of some of the many ways in which AppleWorks was being used across the country. For several years, the text of the ABC Evening News with Peter Jennings was created by a member of NAUG who was the chief writer for that news broadcast. AppleWorks was also used in the production of the Broadway play, “Cats”. Another member used AppleWorks to help manage a $4 million hog farming operation.
NAUG later helped start a second group, the ClarisWorks Users Group in early 1992, at the request of Claris, who was at that time publishing AppleWorks for the Apple II and ClarisWorks for the Macintosh. The first issue of ClarisWorks Journal was published in February 1992.
By 1992, with the increased use of the Macintosh, Williams and Merritt saw the NAUG membership begin to decrease, and by 1995 it was no longer possible to continue the run the group. They published their final issue of the AppleWorks Forum, the last of a run of 113 issues, in December 1995. For those members who still had remaining issues in their subscription, they were offered refund of their remaining subscription, or a full-year subscription to major magazines, membership in the ClarisWorks Users Group, a complete set of back issues of AppleWorks Forum, or other Appleworks products at discount prices. They promised continued availability of the files from NAUG on America Online, CompuServe, GEnie, and the NAUG BBS.,,
GS+ (Sep 1989 – Aug 1995)
In the late 1970s, Steven Disbrow entered the world of microcomputers with his purchase of a TRS-80 Model I, complete with cassette storage and 4K of memory. To learn more about his computer and what it could do, he picked up a newsstand magazine called 80-Micro (published by Wayne Green, who had also started Byte and inCider magazines). He enjoyed the humor that the editors of that publication included, and the fun they showed one could have with a computer. Active also in the local TRS user’s group, he originally disdained the Apple II and those who used them. However, in 1984 he found that he needed the ability to communicate with a mainframe computer in order to do some schoolwork. After looking into the cost of upgrading his TRS-80 to be able to do this, he found that it would actually cost him less to buy the newly released Apple IIc with a 300 baud modem (and at that time, a new IIc went for about $1300), so he crossed enemy lines and entered the Apple camp.
As he got more familiar with his IIc, his interest in that computer and the upcoming 16-bit IIGS also increased. While learning more about it from Apple magazines at the newsstand, he noticed that many of the publications that dealt with the Atari ST included a disk with each issue. Disbrow went so far as to contact several of the Apple II magazines that were in print at the time to see if they had any interest in a companion disk, but he did not find any interest. After purchasing his Apple IIGS, he saw that there still was no combination magazine and disk for this computer, and decided to start one himself.
When Disbrow started his magazine in September 1989, he chose to make it exclusively for the Apple IIGS, and so named it GS+. Published bi-monthly, the byline on the cover of each issue reminded subscribers of what made his magazine unique: “The First Apple IIGS Magazine + Disk Publication!” He recalled the humor and fun that he had always seen in 80-Micro, and determined to make his magazine fun in a similar way. Disbrow felt that this was especially important, considering the generally negative attitude that was prevalent among Apple II users at the time, as they saw less and less active support from Apple for their computer. GS+ concentrated on news, software and hardware reviews, published programs and utilities for the IIGS (some with source code), and interviews with people who are involved with the IIGS.
With its focus on programming, it was a natural for GS+ to pick up the subscribers for 8/16-Central from Resource Central when it was decided in 1991 that there were not enough subscribers to keep that publication going.
GS+ magazine had a loyal and enthusiastic subscriber base. By 1992, it was awarded honorable mention as the best Apple II publication (beaten out by A2-Central). It had its own support category in the A2Pro Roundtable on GEnie to help with customer support and to solicit authors for articles to publish.
During its run, Disbrow and Joe Wankerl included several important utilities on the disk that accompanied the print copy of GS+, including EGOed (a word processor in a desk accessory), Replicator (a desktop-based disk duplicator), Cool Cursor (an animator cursor for the mouse pointer), ICE (an icon editor), Ellifont (double click a font to see a sample), FinderBinder (matches documents with their programs), Rainbow (color control of their icons and their window), and many others.
As with other Apple II publications, the decline in Apple II users that accelerated in the mid-1990s made it increasingly difficult for Disbrow to keep the magazine going. With the August 1995 issue (volume 7, number 1), Disbrow discussed the problem in his “Writer’s Block” editorial. Although he stated that he could no longer print his magazine, he did state that the other products that GS+ had been selling through EGO Systems would continue to be available, as would back issues of GS+. To help subscribers who still had issues coming to them, Disbrow offered back issues, disks of the text of out-of-print issues of the magazine, or credit towards anything in the EGO Systems catalog. As for writing, Disbrow began to write articles to include in Joe Kohn’s Shareware Solutions II newsletter beginning in late 1995.
On June 27, 1997, it was necessary for EGO Systems to also cease operation of its Apple II mail order business. In May 2001, an agreement was announced that gave Syndicomm and exclusive license to distribute GS+ magazines and software.
GENIELAMP A2 (Apr 1992 – Oct 1997) / GENIELAMP A2PRO (Feb 1993 – Jan 1996)
As the era of the Apple II changed, Apple II users began to find it necessary to take control of their own destiny, since Apple Computer was, essentially, abandoning their platform. One of the ways in which this happened was the consolidation of modem-based communities into national (and even international) groups in the era of the big online services. The knowledge being shared on the forums available on these services was too valuable to hide from others, and so it began to be distributed with those who were not subscribed. This was usually done in the form of an online, text-based newsletter that was downloaded and then transferred to independent BBSes across the country. For the Apple II, one of the most significant of the online services was GEnie and the newsletter that came from dedicated Apple II users who gathered there.
As will be discussed in greater detail in the next chapter, GEnie was a text-based national network that started in 1985, as way to make use of General Electric Information Services (GEIS) mainframes during off-business hours. One of the earliest computer forums (called Roundtables) for GEnie was the American Apple Roundtable, which ultimately turned into different discussion areas for the Apple II and the Macintosh. Roundtables for other computers were also established around the same time.
John Peters was an Atari ST user who lived in Denver in 1990. He had started a text-based magazine called TeleTalk Online, targeted towards members and sysops of BBSes. He started by uploading his newsletter to some that were local in Denver, and from there it went nationwide, migrating from BBS to BBS. After three issues, Peters found that he was receiving e-mail about TeleTalk Online from all over the country. He signed up with PC Pursuit (a GTE service started in 1985 that offered unlimited non-primetime connections to online databases, bulletin boards, regional networks, and personal computers in the several large metropolitan areas) which then made it possible for him to access BBSes located in many different parts of the United States. With this ability of personally “delivering” his digital magazine, the rapid growth of TeleTalk Online continued.
With the experience gained from this foray into digital publishing, Peters wrote the Chief Sysop for GEnie’s Atari Roundtables, asking if there was any interest in a TeleTalk-type of magazine. CompuServe already had a magazine called ST Report, and GEnie was interested in something to compete with it. As a result, GEnieLamp ST, the first GEnieLamp publication, started in June 1990. It became a popular download amongst the members of that Roundtable, and as time passed, it caught the eye of Kent Fillmore, who was a product manager for GEnie. Fillmore asked Peters if he would be interested in expanding the GEnieLamp concept to some other platforms. Peters accepted the challenge, sought and found assistants from selected Roundtables to act as co-editors, and on April 1, 1992 three additional GEnieLamp magazines appeared, for the Macintosh, IBM, and Apple II platforms.
Over the next several years, additional editions of the GEnieLamp magazines appeared, some lasting to 1996. The Apple II edition gained in strength over the length of its run, and was possibly the most active of the GEnieLamp editions. According to John Peters, the Apple II edition seemed to have the greatest readership, and he said that the Apple II community on GEnie was a fun one to visit.
In an article written in 1996 by Doug Cuff about the history of GEnieLamp A2, he summarized the start and end dates for the various GEnieLamp publications. Here is a slightly modified re-creation of his timeline:
|GEnieLamp IBM MM
The GEnieLamp magazines were made to work on an 80-column monospaced text screen, and made use of ASCII art and formatting. The staring pages of the first edition of GEnieLamp A2 looked like this:
GEnieLamp A2 9204 screenshot – Photo credit: personal
Peters was identified as publisher and editor for each of the GEnieLamp editions, and a member of each of the targeted Roundtables was recruited to be Co-Editor. In the case of the Apple II edition, A2 Roundtable member Tom Schmitz was the selected connection. Schmitz, a resident of Hawaii, continued in that position for the first six issues, until the demands of his job made it necessary to relinquish that position to Darrel Raines. Raines had made several contributions to the newsletter, beginning with the August 1992 issue.
In the first issue in April 1992, John started with his editorial, “From My Desktop”, in which he described the expansion of the GEnieLamp concept beyond its beginnings in the Atari ST Roundtable, and welcomed the new platforms, specifically Apple II, Macintosh, and IBM. He then moved on to report on some Apple II-specific news, dealing with the latest release of ShrinkIT and GS-ShrinkIt, an announcement of the Apple II Achievement Awards, and a list of new uploads to the A2 library. His editorial concluded by giving information about things going on elsewhere on GEnie, including upcoming events in the Desktop Publishing and the Laptops Roundtables. The second part of “From My Desktop” was a short introduction from Apple II editor Tom Schmitz, and it concluded with a message gleaned from the A2 RT bulletin board, in which Chief Sysop Chet Day announced his retirement from the Apple II Roundtables.
John Peters designed the GEnieLamp series to have a pool of general articles that could be interesting for any of the represented platforms, and then have other platform-specific columns that would fill out the remainder of that newsletter. Also, an important part of each issue was the distillation of postings from the Roundtable, which provided information, humor, or news. The template that he followed for most issues during the first year was to start with his editorial, include a note from Tom Schmitz, then move on to top Apple II news, gleanings from postings on the A2 Roundtable, and finally various types of articles. Most of these articles were specific to the Apple II, but some were general enough to appeal to any computer user.
As of the second issue, the masthead changed slightly to make Kent Fillmore the publisher (recall that he was the computing roundtables manager who had asked Peters to expand GEnieLamp beyond the Atari ST edition), and John Peters as Senior Editor. The name was also clarified to GEnie Lamp A2, to be more consistent with the name of the A2 Roundtable:
GEnieLamp A2 9205 screenshot – Photo credit: personal
By the third issue, Tom Schmitz’ title was elevated to that of Editor for the A2 edition, and Phil Shapiro, who had contributed articles from the very beginning, was listed as a Co-Editor. Also listed was an additional GEnieLamp publication, GEnie Lamp Elsewhere, which was designed to represent news and activities on some of the less populated GEnie computing roundtables, “elsewhere” than Apple II, IBM, Macintosh, and Atari ST.
With issue number 4 in July 1992, contributions from the A2Pro (Apple II Programmers) Roundtable were added, making the official title “GEnieLamp A2/A2Pro“. This combined A2 and A2Pro Roundtable coverage continued until February 1993, when the combined size of contributions from the two Roundtables made it prudent to split off GEnieLamp A2Pro as a separate publication.
The “publisher” of GEnieLamp changed, as Kent Fillmore’s name disappeared from the masthead, replaced by “GEnie Information Services”. With the October 1992 issue, the space between “GEnie” and “Lamp” had been removed, and by the end of the year the GEnieLamp Elsewhere edition had disappeared, and GEnieLamp [PR] (which reproduced press releases from GEnie) and GEnieLamp MacPro had appeared on the masthead:
GEnieLamp A2 9212 screenshot – Photo credit: personal
Peters also founded the GEnieLamp Roundtable (later called DigiPub), an area on GEnie designed specifically for the GEnieLamp newsletters, their writers and their editors. To promote the new publications, Peters devised a “Computer Wars” contest to allow readers to send in reasons why they thought their computer was the best. Although the largest number of responses came from the Apple II readers, the winning computer was not an Apple II. In the September 1992 issue, the first place award went to a user whose essay described “the modem” as the best computer (because it made any computer extensible to a larger network). Second place was awarded to the HP-15C Advanced Programmable Scientific Calculator, and third place was the NeXT computer.
During this first year of publication, Peters also introduced the DiskTop Publishing Association (later called the Desktop Publishing Association), to promote digital publications. He highlighted this further during November 1992, which he and other DPA members designated as “Electronic Publishing Month”.
To round out the newsletter and include some items that were fun, ASCII art made its debut in the September 1992 issue, with Mike White (and other artists) and CowTOONS, ASCII drawings of cows. Also introduced during that first year were word find puzzles in the form of the “Search-Me!” column, which ran from July 1992 until late 1993.
CowTOONS – Photo credit: personal
The HUMOR ONLINE column began in the first issue, and continued through most of the run of GEnieLamp A2. Titles of these stories included: Chocolate Layer Cake 1040; Shareware registration incentives that don’t work; Political Viruses; Fifty Ways To Hose Your Code (song parody); The Oyster; IBM’s “Timeless” processor chip; Monty Python humor in the Amiga ST Roundtable; the B*st*rd Operator From Hell; Apple vs IBM (pounding nails with your head); and The Art of Flaming.
Apple II-specific content that appeared during the first year of GEnieLamp A2 included software and hardware announcements (including Apple IIGS System 6 and HyperCard IIGS), promotion of the A2-Central Summer Conference (the first of many years of plugs for KansasFest), as well as some of the earliest comments about work being done on an Apple IIGS emulator (for 386/486 computers).
By February 1993, the size of GEnieLamp A2 had increased to over 200K in size. It was decided to split the Apple II Programmer’s info into its own publication, and GEnieLamp A2Pro was started.
And in July 1993, a new editor was assigned to GEnieLamp A2. Doug Cuff had been absent from GEnie for a while, but had returned after seeing GEnieLamp A2 on a local BBS. He applied for the position of editor, and as the best qualified applicant, John Peters gave it to him. Cuff started in that position with the August 1993 edition, and continued until December 1996, for a total of 41 issues.
GEnieLamp A2 9308 screenshot – Photo credit: personal
Changes that occurred during Doug Cuff’s run as editor included taking over the “From My Desktop” column for use as an Apple II editorial. Also, it soon became the responsibility of each GEnieLamp editor to assemble and distribute the monthly newsletter. By 1995 this job was made more difficult by the shrinking base of authors from whom Cuff could get content to add to each issue. In fact, when Charles Hartley could no longer write the monthly “Treasure Hunt” article about great files in the A2 library, Cuff himself took over this task.
During 1995, it was the sad task of GEnieLamp A2 to also report on news about the loss of Resource Central/ICON, the National AppleWorks User Group, GS+ magazine, and Softdisk. By this time, newcomer II Alive was also on the ropes, and it was announced that only six more issues would be printed, and its schedule would change to quarterly.
In his editorial in the January 1996 issue of GEnieLamp A2, Cuff made an effort to also point out the positives in the Apple II world that had occurred during 1995:
In fact, we made out like bandits in 1995. We got new hardware: the SecondSight card and, along with the rest of the micro world, IOmega ZIP drives. We got new software: Quick Click Morph, TimeOut Statistics, Convert 3200, Quick Click TIFF Reader, Deja II (AppleWorks 5.1 for the Mac), Opening Line, TouchTwo AppleWorks macros, Print 3200, and PMPFax, not to mention shareware/freeware efforts such as II Not Disturb, Blockade [a game from Brutal Deluxe], and Pix Whiz [a New Print Shop color picture editor].
We also got significant updates and upgrades for some of our software: Spectrum v2.0, Balloon v2.0, AppleWorks v5.1, rSounder v3.0, AutoArk v1.1, TimeOut ShrinkIt v5, One Touch Commands 5, GEnie Master 5, CoPilot for GEnie v2.5.5, The Tinies (with a new construction set), an improved variable-time SHR screen saver, and a patch for the HFS FST.
Of course, being a publication that focused on the Apple II on GEnie, the newsletter reported about the changes to the service itself, and not in flattering terms. It was during 1996 that General Electric sold GEnie to a new company which seemed intent on running it into the ground. The unpopular actions of this new owner reduced the membership all over Genie (the new name), including those from the A2 Roundtable. Previously, management had made it possible for Doug Cuff and the other GEnieLamp editors to pay writers who contributed to the newsletter by giving them some credit towards the online charges. The new owners took away this privilege.
In March of 1996, new forms of GEnieLamp A2 became available in addition to the text version. HyperCard and HyperStudio stacks of the A2 edition were available for download. The HyperCard stack (and conversion stack) was written by Joshua Calvin, and was not significantly different from the text edition. The HyperStudio edition included a comic strip called “Hog Heaven”, drawn by Wendy Peacock.
By July 1996, GEnieLamp A2 was the single remaining GEnieLamp publication. Two other remaining editions, the IBM and Mac versions, had concluded their run as of the June 1996 issue. Part of that was likely due to the decision by the new Genie management that GEnieLamp editors no longer could have special paid accounts as had been offered in the past. It was only through special intervention by John Peters as the head of GEnieLamp that any editor accounts were preserved – and only Cuff felt motivated to continue in his role as a GEnieLamp editor.
Not only did the new Genie management feel that continuing to have free editor accounts was not necessary, they decided to close the DigiPub roundtable where all of the various GenieLamp editing activity took place. In the August 1996 issue, Cuff announced this change, as well as notifying readers that GEnieLamp A2 was now the only publication in the GEnieLamp series released that month. Cuff also too pains to ensure that all of the GEnieLamp A2 issues from the very beginning up to the current issue were available in the A2 Roundtable library. (A few years after, David Kerwood started one of the very first web sites dedicated to the Apple II, A2-Web, at www.a2-web.com, and he made the full run of GEnieLamp A2 and its successor available for download.)
By the end of 1996, Cuff finally decided to retire from his run as editor, after 41 consecutive months (nearly three and one-half years) in that position. Ryan Suenaga took over the position of editor in January 1997. After his first issue, Suenaga decided to no longer include John Peters name in the masthead, as had no ongoing involvement in the continuation of it (in fact, Peters had closed his Genie account in April 1997). Doug Cuff was listed as “Editor Emeritus” in each issue of that year, and still contributed articles to the publication.
The last year that GenieLamp A2 was published 1997, was also Suenaga’s only year as editor. However, the conclusion of the online magazine had nothing to do with any failings on his part. The A2 Roundtable continued to contract, and GenieLamp A2 contained postings from members (and some leaders) who were giving their goodbye messages as they announced their plans to migrate over to Delphi, which was viewed as a more Apple II-friendly service. In his last “From My Desktop” editorial, Suenaga stated that although the October 1997 issue was the last of the GEnieLamp A2 series, he had plans to create a new newsletter – this time based from Delphi in the Apple II community over there. Doug Cuff contributed another article for that last issue, lamenting the way in which the Genie management had abandoned these newsletters that had for so long been a valuable advertisement to attract members to the online service. And like Suenaga, he beckoned readers to come over to Delphi as a new home for the Apple II community.
In that final issue, the ending masthead still listed (in memoriam, so to speak) the staff of all of the now-missing GenieLamp newsletters who had served for so many years, including the Atari, IBM, Macintosh, and PowerPC editors.
As Suenaga and Cuff indicated, the story was not over, even if GenieLamp A2 was no more. (To see the continuation of the story, read further for the story of The Lamp!)
It is to the credit of the enthusiastic Apple II community, who had become accustomed to preserving their past on their own, that the full run of the GEnieLamp A2 and GEnieLamp A2Pro publications still exist. A few issues of GEnieLamp IBM and GEnieLamp ST can be found with some effort on the Internet, but none of the other editions are currently available for download and review.
(The full run of GEnieLamp A2, GEnieLamp A2Pro, and The Lamp! is available for download from Apple2scans.net.)
II ALIVE (Mar 1993 – Winter 1996)
II Alive V1N1, Mar 1993 – Photo credit: personal
Joe Gleason was the president of Quality Computers, an Apple II mail order company based in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. He observed with considerable concern the gradual erosion of Apple II-specific information through the format of the traditional slick magazine. When inCider/A+ added Macintosh coverage, this began the gradual decline in the fortunes of that magazine, which was Quality’s major advertising outlet. Quality had begun a combination magazine and catalog called Enhance, with a focus towards educators (where the Apple II was still fairly strong). But Gleason wanted something more.
Jerry Kindall, who worked at Quality and was a frequent presence on the online services, made this announcement in October 1992: “When inCider/A+ decided to switch over to a primarily Macintosh focus, we decided the time was right for us to start our own Apple II publication to fill the void. II Alive will begin publication in…1993. Every single article will discuss the Apple II. Every single ad will promote Apple II products. The Mac will be mentioned only in connection with the Apple II (as will the IBM)–for example, in articles on networking or file exchange.”
They planned to initially offer the magazine on a bi-monthly basis, and for people who subscribed before December 31, 1992 they offered a free video tape that highlighted new Apple II products. A sample issue of the magazine was mailed out to everyone on Quality’s mailing list in early 1993, and the first official issue appeared in March 1993. The logo on the cover had a circle around the title announcing the flavor of the magazine, “Celebrating The Apple II”. Kindall was named as editor-in-chief, and eventually had some other staff hired to help him: Ellen Rosenberg, as managing editor (formerly editor of A2-Central); Doug Cuff as consulting editor (also editor of the online magazine GEnie Lamp A2 and writing for A2-Central); and Tara Dillinger as Interview Editor (who was also in charge of doing online interviews on the A2 Roundtable on GEnie).
By the second official issue, July/August 1993, Kindall announced that IDG Communications, the publisher for inCider/A+, had decided to transfer remaining subscriptions for that magazine to II Alive.
II Alive V2N6, Jan 1995 – Photo credit: personal
Regular columns featured in II Alive included “Test Drives” (reviews of new products), “Ask Mr. Tech” (technical questions and answers), “Head Of The Class” (programs that were of particular interest to educators), “AppleWorks At Large” (tips on uses for that program), “Macro Exchange” (sample UltraMacros programs for AppleWorks), “Modem Nation” (information about telecommunications), “Shareware Spy” (discussion of freeware and shareware software), and more.
Compared to inCider, this magazine seemed to be having fun in the various articles it presented, and attempted to capture a little of the flavor of Softalk from the old days. Because of Quality’s introduction of AppleWorks 4.0 in the fall of 1993, the November/December issue was not available until late in December (Kindall also was responsible for writing the manual for that program); however, after this they worked hard at returning to their correct bi-monthly schedule.
With the continued decline in the Apple II market, it had an effect on this final attempt at a glossy magazine. After the Jan-Feb 1995 issue, the magazine was reduced to a two-color magazine, with fewer pages. New managing editor Doug Cuff pointed out that just as the Apple II market was smaller than it was in the past, so also II Alive had to change to be smaller. It continued in this smaller format for six issues, and it the final year was able to come out only on a quarterly basis. The magazine also suffered from shifting in editors, due to the financial constraints associated with a shrinking readership. The last issue was Volume 4, Number 4, from “Winter 1996”.
II Alive V3N1, July 1995 – Photo credit: personal
THE APPLE BLOSSOM (Jan 1995 – Feb 1998)
Apple Blossom Publishing logo – Photo credit: Steve Cavanaugh
Steve Cavanaugh was a computer teacher in an elementary school for three years before he moved on to work for Mosby-Year Book, a medical publisher. There, he worked at laying out books using Quark XPress. When had been doing his teaching job, he had arranged meetings with other computer teachers in the area to discuss how make use of computers to teach students. For those who had not been able to attend the meetings, he wrote up the information in a newsletter.
In late 1994, he conceived the idea of making the newsletter available as a download on Genie, and found quite a few people who were interested in what he had written. He called it The Apple Blossom, and in it Cavanaugh wrote about products for the Apple II, both hardware and software, as well as reviews, to help schools become aware of what was new when the teachers simply did not have time to do the research on their own to find out these things. The popularity made him decide to change it to a print publication available by subscription. Part of this was due to problems people had with printing what he had tried to digitally distribute, using AppleWorks GS, a notoriously difficult program to make work with some printers. Also involved in the decision was his inability to continue to do it at his own expense.
During 1995 he put out four issues, and was able to produce six issues in 1996, with a subscription fee of $12 per year. By that time he had subscribers in 30 states and in Canada. He worked during the second year to produce articles that explained how to work with various programs on the Apple II, as well as making other computer platforms work with the Apple II, particularly as to how to make use of content that was not designed specifically for the Apple II (such as translating pictures for MS-DOS or the Mac to a format that Apple II could use).
By that time Cavanaugh was creating his publication not in AppleWorks GS but in a simple IIGS word processor called ShadowWrite, and doing the page layout in GraphicWriter III. He printed the final copy on a LaserWriter. He included for his new subscribers his Apple II Vendor Directory, which provided contact information and product information for over 90 companies who serviced or sold Apple II hardware and software. He also began to accept articles by other authors, including a regular column of interviews with Apple II notables called “Talking II” written by Ryan Suenaga.
In 1997, Cavanaugh branched out to digital distribution with a different publication, Hyper Quarterly, a disk-based subscription specifically for the Apple IIGS. It was created with and intended for HyperCard IIGS. Though he only produced three issues of this, starting with June 1997 and the final one in 1999, the two 800K disks for each of these three had quite a few HyperCard stacks on them for presentation and education, as well as art and icons to use in stack creation. To produce these, he had the help of Hangtime and Gareth Jones.
The number of renewals was not sufficient to keep these publications going, and only three issues of The Apple Blossom were produced in 1997 and one final issue in February 1998. Cavanaugh moved his index and a sampling of his content to a web site by 1999. The site, www.appleblossom.net, still works in 2012.
SHAREWARE SOLUTIONS II (Jul 1993 – Jul 1999)
Shareware Solutions II, Vol 3, No 4
Joe Kohn had been writing articles and a regular column called “Shareware Solutions” for inCider for quite a while, when the rug got pulled out from under him by the demise of the magazine. He had taken extra efforts to make disks available to readers who didn’t have modems, disks that contained some of the best available shareware and freeware programs he could find. To continue in these efforts, in mid-1993 he decided to begin a self-published newsletter called Shareware Solutions II. He posted on GEnie:
[This newsletter will] take Apple II users on an exciting journey into the future. Each month, I plan to write articles about freeware/shareware (of course) and will continue to provide low cost freeware/shareware disks to subscribers via the mail. There will also be Apple II oriented reviews and articles that focus on low cost solutions to common Apple II problems. There will be columns geared to novices and new modem owners; techies, hackers, teens, senior citizens and educators alike should find lots to interest them…Subscribers will learn how to tame their Apple II computer, and will learn what it will take to make their Apple II a powerful computer solution well into the next century and beyond.
I believed it when Apple proclaimed ‘Apple II Forever‘, and Shareware Solutions II will help to make that more than just an empty slogan!”
Rather than to try to stick to a specific publishing schedule, Kohn decided to sell his subscriptions on the basis of the number of issues, rather than by the year. As his bi-monthly schedule fell behind at times this plan turned out to be wise. The content of his newsletter reflected the extra care that could be taken when a deadline didn’t have to be rigidly adhered to; his 20-page newsletter was consistently excellent, with extended articles that reviewed software, hardware, and gave detailed accounts of KansasFest. He also often included some special offers of commercial software for readers.
Kohn released 22 issues of his newsletter, Volumes 1-3 with six issues each, and four issues in Volume 4. As the Apple II market continued to decline, there were fewer and fewer releases of new issues of Shareware Solutions II. Although Kohn never officially announced he was discontinuing the newsletter, for all practical purposes, its final issue was in July 1999.
In early January 2010, Joe Kohn passed away at the age of 62 from complications of lung cancer. In his death notice in the San Francisco Chronicle it was mentioned that he had been active in support of clean air and water and other environmental concerns.
Of all the magazines reviewed in this history, there is one that has been in print longer than any other run. Consider this list:
- 14 years – Softdisk (1981-1995)
- 12 years – Call-A.P.P.L.E. (1978-1990)
- 12 years – Nibble (1980-1992)
- 10 years – inCider (1983-1993)
- 10 years – Open-Apple/A2-Central (1985-1995)
- 8 years – Apple Assembly Line (1980-1988)
- 8 years – Micro (1977-1985)
- 8 years – Softdisk G-S (1989-1997)
- 6 years – Softside (1978-1984)
- 6 years – A+ (1983-1989)
- 6 years – GS+ (1989-1995)
- 5 years – Apple IIGS Buyer’s Guide (1985-1990)
- 4 years – Softalk (1980-1984)
- 4 years – Apple Orchard (1980-1984)
- 3 years – II Alive (1993-1996)
- 2 years – II Computing (1985-1987)
However, as of March, 2010, a late-comer celebrated its fifteenth year of continuous publication. Juiced.GS is not only the longest running but also the sole remaining Apple II-specific periodical available anywhere. First edited and published by Max Jones, Juiced.GS was transferred to be published by Syndicomm in 2002, under editor Ryan Suenaga. In 2006, current editor Ken Gagne took over, and has continued to manage the print publication. Gagne has also started an online blog for Juiced.GS.
For a detailed history of Juiced.GS, see this entry in the Apple II History museum.
Juiced.GS, Vol 7, Issue 1
THE LAMP! (Jan 1998 – Aug 2007)
As mentioned previously in the entry about GEnieLamp A2, the closing months of 1997 were making it clear that Genie as an online home for Apple II users was becoming more and more unsatisfactory. Ryan Suenaga, who had been editing GEnieLamp A2 during 1997, chose to bring it to a close with the October 1997 issue. However, he promised to return with a new publication, based on Delphi. That return happened three months later, with the first issue released in January 1998.
Suenaga had considered several possible names, including Delphi Oracle (which was already in use), but with the help of Tim Kellers (of the IIScribe Forum), Cindy Adams (the KansasFest committee chairman) and Max Jones (of Juiced.GS), he finally settled on The Lamp! This maintained a connection to the older GEnieLamp name, but had the added advantage of not linking itself specifically to Delphi. (This was ultimately a Good Thing, as events later turned out).
The masthead of the first issue looked like this:
The Lamp!, Jan 1998 – Photo credit: personal
With a musical reference to Emerson, Lake & Palmer, editor Suenaga began his first editorial for The Lamp! by giving a brief story of the path from Genie to Delphi, and ending with the statements, “Apple ][ Forever. And forever on Delphi.”
In creating the new newsletter, he did not take a radical departure from the format that had been established five years earlier by John Peters when he created the first series of GEnieLamp newsletters. He still had a place for information gleaned from online postings, a place for product reviews, an editorial, and extra articles as they became available. It was mostly a matter of finding new titles for the different parts. Using a baseball motif, the editorial “From My Desktop” became “Opening Pitch”, the “Log Off” credits sections became “Extra Innings”, and just to be different, “Hey Mister Postman” became “A Funny Thing Happened”. He also made some small changes in the layout and appearance of the table of contents, but did retain the bracketed three-letter indexing system that Peters had originated (but which had not yet been put to use by anybody).
With Apple II activity still occurring on Genie as well as on Delphi, the information reproduced in The Lamp! contained an amalgam of both locations. It documented the transition of library files from Genie to Delphi (and how much work that entailed), the impending loss of text-only access for CompuServe users, and as in past years documented the run-up to KansasFest and the afterward analysis of events that happened there. Doug Cuff continued to be involved in this online newsletter by writing an update to his KansasFest guide. He had first included this in GEnieLamp A2 in 1996, and called it “The Accidental Tourist At KansasFest”, giving a comprehensive guide to the KansasFest experience suitable for anyone who had not been there before. He updated this for KFest 1997, and then again did it in 1998 in The Lamp! for that year’s event, including information on how to get on Delphi from Avila University, where the event was to be held. Cuff reprised and updated his article in The Lamp! annually from 1998 through 2001, with the exception of 2000.
In January 1999, Suenaga started what became an annual article (up through 2001), “The Apple II Achievement Awards,” with categories of best commercial, shareware, and freeware products, as well as best web site, best publications, and outstanding individual achievement awards. The February issue included a “State Of The II, 1999”, and Suenaga declared that emulators like Bernie ][ The Rescue and Sweet 16 were making it possible for the Apple II to have yet another chance to make a comeback. Whether or not it would do so was up to those who used it.
The Lamp! reported on the changes in online life during 1999, with the cancellation of text-based access on CompuServe and Delphi’s work at mirroring posted content between the text and the Web. Articles in The Lamp! also discussed how to access Delphi via telnet, as that system began to back away from its text-only origins. The travails of Genie were also discussed, as that system began to be unstable.
While the potential Y2K disaster troubled the world during 1999, Apple II (and Macintosh) users boasted of their invulnerability, due to a different method of date and time keeping in their respective operating systems. The Lamp! reported on these differences, and reminded users that there were individual programs for the Apple II that would potentially break (or require a patch) because they were not written to take century changes into account, and ProDOS itself was in need of a patch every seven years via a program that Apple had released with the last ProDOS 8 system disk. GS/OS for the Apple IIGS was determined to be safe until 2039.
In the September editorial, Suenaga announced that due to work schedule changes, he was finding it necessary to stop doing The Lamp! as of the December issue. He announced that the new editor would be Lyle Syverson, who had an article appearing in that issue. Syverson began his run as editor with the January 2000 issue. He had started back in 1987 with a Laser 128, learned about the platform by subscribing to Apple II magazines, and by 1993 he had purchased a modem and was ready to join in the telecommunications revolution. He initially started on GEnie, using an offline reader to automate his online sessions, and closely followed and participated in the activity there. By 1993 he was ready to upgrade his computer to an Apple IIGS. When the prices on Genie got too expensive for his tastes in 1996, he moved to the APPUSER forum on CompuServe, and stayed there until early 1999, when text-based access there was terminated. He then migrated to Delphi, saw Suenaga’s request for a new Lamp editor and offered his services.
Although he used the same format as the previous editor, Syverson did make a few changes. The first editorial that he used had the same title, “Opening Pitch”, but the following month he personalized it by changing the title to “High Above The Rock River”, named after the river that ran past his apartment.
The new masthead read this way:
During 2000, Delphi began to show the same instability of Genie, as it transitioned from a text-based service to a combination text- and web-based service, and changed from subscription to free access. The Lamp! reported on the efforts of Eric Shepherd to provide a service that acted and worked like Genie of the past, and could work as a stable alternative to Delphi.
That year also, many of the discussions reproduced in The Lamp! involved education of new users about old hardware. There were also announcements about several CD-ROM collections of software, including Opus ][ from The Byte Works, a collection of everything ever sold by that company. Many other older software titles were reclassified as freeware or public domain. Publisher Ryan Suenaga continued to make an appearance in The Lamp!, with his announcement of the Time In A Bottle project, a CD-ROM collection of files that had been rescued from Genie. Suenaga also introduced a short newsletter he was writing, A2 News And Notes, intended to provide headline information about Apple II events and activities. In 2003, Ryan Suenaga included “The KFest FAQ” (similar to Doug Cuff’s earlier guides).
In 2001, the available information to print in The Lamp! began to include postings from Shepherd’s Syndicomm.com bulletin board, since participation in the Delphi Apple II forum had significantly declined with the failure of the text side of the service. By 2002 there was virtually no further mention of Delphi in The Lamp!, and by 2005 it had been removed from the masthead:
Starting in 2002 and running through 2003, Syverson as editor began to include his own column, “The Tinkerer’s Corner” in each issue, with simple hardware projects. These covered topics such as restoration of an Apple II found at a thrift store, upgrading to a larger SCSI hard drive, setting up a CD-ROM drive, networking an Apple IIGS and Macintosh, building a computer cart, and more.
During 2003 my own series, “Illuminating The Lamp” began, giving the history of GEnieLamp A2 and The Lamp! on a year-by-year basis, taking time out to discuss the history of the development and release of Wolfenstein 3D for the Apple IIGS. The series lasted into late 2004, with sometimes several months between installments.
Editor Syverson continued regularly putting out an issue of The Lamp! on into 2007, but much of the content of this online magazine had traditionally depended on what was posted on the online service that Apple II users called home. In the process of migrating from GEnie to Delphi to Syndicomm/A2-Central, the number of available places that Apple II enthusiasts could go for sharing and finding information was multiplying with the number of web sites on the Internet as it grew. Consequently, the volume of messages on the A2-Central BBS became more and more sparse, and there was less and less content on which to create an online newsletter. Where the length of each issue averaged 98K during the first year The Lamp! ran in 1998, it was down to 55K in 2004, and by 2007 it was down to 27K. Syverson chose to simply not release an issue in September 2007. Within a year, the A2-Central BBS had been shut down.
Lyle Syverson holds the record as the longest running editor in the entire run of GEnieLamp A2 and The Lamp!, with a total of 92 issues that he created and released, over seven and one-half years in total. The next runner-up was Doug Cuff, who produced 41 issues of GEnieLamp A2, just under three and one-half years, and last of all Ryan Suenaga at 34 issues, just under three years. Thanks to the efforts of Syverson, he has kept a record of the activities on the Apple II community in its last productive years on Delphi and during nearly its entire time on the A2-Central/Syndicomm BBS.
(The full run of GEnieLamp A2, GEnieLamp A2Pro, and The Lamp! is available for download from Apple2scans.net.)
Foreign Apple II Magazines
France – pom’s (Sep 1981 – Oct 1990)
pom’s, premier issue, Sep 1981 – Photo credit: Antoine Vignau
At the beginning of the 1980s, Apple II computers were not available for purchase in France, and had to be brought in from Great Britain. The manuals for these computers were, of course, in English, which posed a problem for many of the new owners who were exclusively French-speaking. Hervé Thiriez decided to try to solve this problem by starting a magazine for Apple II users in France, and named the new publication pom’s. It started in September 1981, and featured an Apple on the cover that was similar to the Apple logo, but without the missing bite on the side. It was printed quarterly until March 1984, at which time it changed to a bi-monthly schedule. The cover also changed, with the title pom’s written in lowercase against a rainbow bar background, with a white Apple logo in the lower right corner, covered with a picture of something that was discussed in the pages of the magazine. The cover also showed a list of article titles. The subtitle was “The French-speaking magazine/review for Apple users” in the early days, and by later in its run it was expanded to “The independent French-speaking magazine/review for the users of Apple ][+, //e, //e+, //c, IIGS and Macintosh”. (The “//e+” was intended to refer to the Enhanced IIe.)
The magazine contained articles with type-in listings of programs, not unlike the content of Nibble magazine in the United States. It was also possible to buy a disk of software with each issue of pom’s. The publisher also gathered authors who were well-known in the French Apple world: Dimitri Geystor for AppleWorks and Ultramacros, Yvan Koenig for software development, and reviews by Jean-Yves Bourdin who was connected with Apple and provided commentary and news. A popular topic was finding ways to connect an Apple II to the French Minitel service (their Videotex service).
pom’s #42, May-Jun 1989 – Photo credit: Antoine Vignau
By 1987 the Apple logo disappeared from the cover (likely at the request of Apple Computer). At that time, pom’s coverage included the Macintosh line of computers, but it still ran articles about the Apple II. For example, in the November-December 1988 issue there were articles about the Timeout series of add-ons for AppleWorks, and that issue also included a utility to allow reading Macintosh disks in a 3.5-inch drive attached to an Apple IIe, IIc, or IIGS. That issue even had an article entitled “Apple // for ever”. Even by the final issue in 1990, there were sections of the magazine that covered the Apple II, the Apple IIGS, and the Macintosh. That last issue even had a type-in program that ran eleven pages of Applesoft code, and had a multi-page UltraMacros script for an AppleWorks spreadsheet application. Disks associated with the last seven issues contained demos by the Free Tools Association (FTA).
The end of the magazine was not due to a declining market. Rather, a burglary at the publisher’s offices resulted in loss of all of their equipment as well as their archives. The publisher never recovered from this theft, and the magazine was discontinued.,
France – Tremplin Micro (Mar 1985 – Jan 1989)
Printed on approximately a quarterly schedule, Tremplin Micro (“Springboard Micro”) was another French magazine for the Apple II computer. It came with a disk of software for the Apple II and IIGS computer. Starting with the first issue, it was 64 pages nearly completely filled with program listings to type in. By the final issue, Number 22, there were still program listings (including assembly code for the Apple IIGS), but content also included articles about Apple IIGS System Software 3.2 and a review of Apple Expo 88.
Tremplin Micro, Premier issue, Mar 1985 – Photo credit: Antoine Vignau
United Kingdom – hard core / Apple2000 (Jan 1981 – Nov 1992)
Hardcore, Dec 1981 – Photo credit: Ewen Wannop
In Great Britain in 1980, early owners of the Apple II or ITT 2020 met in St. Albans, UK. They created a new user group, and named it the British Apple Systems User Group, or BASUG. They quickly became affiliated with the International Apple Core (previously mentioned in this chapter under Apple Orchard magazine). Starting in January 1981 the first publication by this group was created and distributed. Named hard core: The Journal Of The British Apple Systems User Group, its appearance and content initially was very reminiscent of the early years of Call-A.P.P.L.E., and was produced six times a year. It included program listings for utilities and other topics (relocating RAM Applesoft, splitting an Applesoft program around the hi-res screen, and a list of the zero page locations and what they were for). It also dealt with 6502 assembly code and Pascal programming.
In August 1986, Hardcore (and the user group) was renamed to Apple2000, and included color covers and content that dealt also with the Macintosh. (Interestingly, that first issue reprised one of the techniques from the first issue of hard core, that being how to split an Applesoft program around the hi-res screen!) One of the writers for the magazine and leaders of the user group was Ewen Wannop, who later wrote Spectrum for the Apple IIGS. Apple2000 also ran content, advertising and reviews for the Macintosh.
Apple2000 also distributed a bimonthly newsletter called Apple Slices, an 8-page update of events going on between releases of the larger magazine.
As the club moved into the 1990s, membership began to fall as owners of Apple computers were discovering many sources of information to which they could turn to answer their questions. By this time, one of the popular sources of information were bulletin board systems, including the popular TABBS (which had originally been part of the Apple2000 group) and the Liverpool UK Bulletin Board. Ewen Wannop (who was at this time chairman of the group) described the problem in the Chairman’s Corner column of the November 1992 issue of Apple2000, citing the costs involved with production of a color magazine and the declining members who were helping with it. Even so, in this last issue of the magazine, one of the articles was entitled “Beginner’s Guide To The Apple II”, by Andrew Hardwick.
The last Apple Slices that was mailed out included Wannop with an article entitled, “Epilogue: Apple2000 1980-1993”. It discussed the final meeting of the club on January 16, 1993, and the decision to close down the organization. The members were advised to make use of GEnie or CompuServe for ongoing support of their computers, and they were also directed to existing publications and national bulletin board systems.
Apple2000, Aug 1986 – Photo credit: Ewen Wannop
United Kingdom – Windfall (Jul 1981 – Dec 1983) / Apple User (Jan 1984 – May 1988)
Derek Meakin managed Database Publications in the U.K. (later renamed to Europress). After seeing a news item about the first meeting of a North West Apple User Group to be held at Manchester University, he decided to attend and see what they talked about. He did not yet own one of the new microcomputers that were in the news, and he was curious about them. At the end of the meeting, the chairman of the group commented that they should have their own newsletter. Meakin volunteered to do this, and launched the first commercial Apple computer magazine in Britain. The name given was Windfall, which was a pun of sorts; in the U.K., the word “windfall” is used to refer to apples that get blown off of trees.
Windfall was later renamed Apple User beginning with the January 1984 issue, and ran through early 1988. The target audience for the publications was the hobbyist and small business market, and it provided product news and reviews, and articles about and reviews of software. The editor accepted submissions of useful hints and tips from readers, which were printed.
Toward the end of its run, the publisher of Apple User wanted to create a new magazine that was focused on the growing Macintosh market. The Apple II fans didn’t want to see content about the Macintosh in Apple User, and likely Macintosh users would not want to be bothered with stories that were about the Apple II. An attempt was made to create a magazine called Mac User, but Apple Computer UK put their advertising behind a competitor that took on that name. The advertising money that Apple Computer put into that other magazine made it hard for Apple User to stay in business, and the magazine was discontinued in May 1988.
Apple User, Nov 1984 – Photo credit: Ewen Wannop
Windfall, Dec 1983 – Photo credit: Cliff McKnight
Australia – Australian Apple Review (Oct 1984 – Aug 1987)
Gareth Powell was a publisher of numerous magazines in Australia. In 1984 he started a magazine for Apple computers, the Australian Apple Review, which ran for four years. (He also published the Australian Business PC Report and The Australian Commodore Review at about the same time.) The decision to publish was galvanized by Apple’s decision to open a division in Australia in 1984. The premiere issue included a detailed article that looked at Apple II clones, and lack of quality control in their production that potentially made them a bad long-term investment regardless of the low cost in their initial purchase. That same issue also discussed the new release of ProDOS, the production of the one millionth Apple II, a review of the Olympia ES-100 typewriter/printer and the Vision-128 RAM card (which was produced in Australia), comments on how to repair damaged disks and disk drives, a review and overview of two Australian-produced word processors, Sandy’s Word Processor and Spellbinder, with comparisons to Zardax and WordStar. That first issue also provided a significant service to its readers by including a long listing of what may well have been every dealer of Apple computers on the continent. Taking the precedent from Softalk, there was also a Top 5 list for entertainment and business software for Australian.
Later issues included a contest for the best program submitted by readers, providing long listings for the reader to type in. And after the Macintosh became available in that country, articles about it became part of the content of the magazine as well.
Australian Apple Review v1n6, July 1984 – Photo credit: aar.applearchives.com
Germany – Peeker (Sep 1984 – Mar 1987)
A magazine for German Apple II users, produced by Hüthig-Verlag Publishing. Subtitled, “Magazin Für Apple-Computer”, it was published monthly for most of its run of 28 issues, and focused on programming. Like Nibble in the U.S., it contained listings of programs that could be entered and run on an Apple II. Other articles gave information about how to write programs and how to make use of the computer hardware. Also like Nibble, the programs for each issue were available on floppy disk, to save the trouble of typing it in. ,
Peeker 01, Jan 1984 – Photo credit: Ulrich Stiehl
In the Netherlands there were a few hobbyist magazines that catered to the Apple II community, including Klokhuis (which translates as “Core”), Pro-2 and Het AppleDossier.