APPLE II HISTORY
Compiled and written by Steven Weyhrich (C) Copyright 1992, Zonker Software
(PART 21 – MAGAZINES, CONT.) [v1.0 :: 14 Sep 92]
This magazine began originally back in 1981 with the name "HardCore Computing". A flier mailed out during 1982 gave this description of the magazine: "HARDCORE COMPUTING, a small magazine in Tacoma, Washington, warns pirates about the latest technology that companies are using against them. HARDCORE is a magazine dedicated to the Apple-user. There are a lot of computer magazines, but HARDCORE prints the information that other magazines refuse to print, information vital to you as a computer user."<1> By 1983 it was split into two separate publications: "HARDCORE Computist" (devoted to "kracking"; see below), and "CORE" (devoted to general AppleII topics). CORE was to have been published four times a year, but was dropped after only a few issues. The first issues of CORE, during 1983, covered graphics, utilities, and games. The third quarterly issue was to have been about databases, but the games topic was substituted and the database topic never appeared in print.<1>,<2>,<3> 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. By issue #27, the name "Hardcore" was dropped completely from the cover. Although it began as a glossy format magazine, this was discontinued with issue #45 in 1987, and with issue #66 in 1989 they changed to a tabloid format. The publishers claim that one reason for the name change to simply "Computist" stemmed from a complaint sent in by a young subscriber whose mother was throwing out the magazine before he got it, because she thought it contained pornographic materials!<1> "Computist" was, admittedly, in the business of teaching users how to "strip". But this did not refer to X-rated topics, but the ability to strip the copy-protection from commercial software. This technique, known as "kracking", was a popular pastime for some software hackers of the day. Using powerful programs such as Locksmith and Copy II Plus, Computist gave specifics on how to make a disk work as easily as a standard Apple DOS disk.<3> The combination of ProDOS and un-protected commercial programs took much of the wind out of Computist's sails, since the special help needed to copy disks was no longer necessary. There were, of course, those who used the techniques printed in Computist to "pirate" programs (duplicate and distribute protected software), but many used it to standardize the modified DOS so that the programs could be used with RAM disks, large floppies, and hard disks.<1> Though it is still being printed, "Computist" is much different than it was in its early days. It is no longer AppleII-specific, and has expanded to also cover the Macintosh and IBM. Its publishing schedule has also become rather irregular. Each new subscription still comes with a tutorial by Wes Felty on disk de-protection and the use of a program called "Super IOB".<4>
Ziff-Davis, who published other computer magazines such as Creative Computing, began publishing A+ in January 1983. This new AppleII magazine carried primarily hardware and software reviews and consumer-oriented articles. It was somewhat similar to today's inCider/A+ in terms of being a general interest AppleII magazine as opposed to the programming slant of Nibble (A+ had virtually no type-in programs).<5> During the time that both A+ and inCider were being published there continued a friendly rivalry between the two. 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 A+'s publishing run, Gary Little became its editor. He had previously written books about the AppleIIe, 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+ Magazine by Ziff-Davis. In 1989, the publisher chose to discontinue A+, and allowed it to merge with inCider magazine.
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 AppleII 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 AppleII 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 AppleII and Macintosh work peaceably together); "AppleIIGS Basics" by Joe Abernathy (highlighting programming on the IIGS); and "Apple Clinic" (questions and answers about using AppleII's). In 1989 inCider merged with A+ Magazine, as mentioned above, and in December 1990 the editors chose to broaden their audience by adding coverage of the Macintosh computer to their AppleII features. This was a highly unpopular move with many AppleII loyalists, who had already had quite enough of Apple Computer telling them to "move up" to a Mac. "Polluting" their AppleII 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 AppleII-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.
Apple IIGS Buyer's Guide (1985-1990)
This magazine began originally under the name, "The AppleII Review" in the fall of 1985. After about five issues the name was changed to "The AppleIIGS Buyers Guide". The changed magazine began in the Fall of 1987, and it ceased publication in the Fall of 1990. It was published in a high gloss format, and over half of each issue was devoted to a listing of available IIGS software/hardware.<6>
II Computing (1985-1987)
This magazine published from October/November 1985 until February/March 1987. Trying to appeal to a variety of readers from beginners to experienced AppleII 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.<5>,<7>
Open-Apple / A2-Central (1985-Present)
As mentioned above, 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 AppleII 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 AppleII 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.<8> As the newsletter has matured over the years, the coverage of Logo has disappeared, and Applesoft has dwindled as well, reflecting changes in reader interests. During the late 1980's, 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 has had 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 AppleII's. 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 AppleII universe, and a central source of information and programming resources. Earlier in the year, Weishaar had also agreed to be the manager of the AppleII 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 AppleII-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 textfile of the current month's newsletter, as well as an assortment of the latest shareware and freeware programs for the AppleII. At times it also contained textfiles with useful information (such as updates to the official AppleII 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. 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 AppleII's 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 AppleII 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. Hyperbole began in March 1991. 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 Stack-Central "building" on the screen, and follow hallways to other articles (sort of like combining a magazine and a video game). A2-Central itself has undergone few changes in its life. Its focus has shifted slightly to keeping abreast of the newest changes in the AppleII world (in terms of products and events that affect that computer), where 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 have filled the niche needed to continue user-support of those AppleII products. The editorship has changed a couple of further times as well; Jan 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. The newsletter, catalog, and all the disk publications continue today under the corporate umbrella of Resource-Central, Inc., which also has sponsored annual summer conferences since 1989. These conferences have brought together some of the top AppleII developers in the country for two days of classes and workshops on many topics. Held in Kansas City in July or August, it has been nicknamed "Kansasfest", since it contains AppleFest-like activities. Weishaar's interest in and dedication to the AppleII has been much appreciated; he was chosen s a recipient of the AppleII Individual Achievement Aware 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 AppleII 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."<9>
"Compute!" was a hybrid magazine that catered primarily to the Commodore 64 computer. It would usually feature games that had versions written for several different computers, including the AppleII. In the late 1980's it began having special issues dedicated to some of the different platforms featured in the main magazine, and there were a few issues called "Apple Applications" for the AppleII.
Apple Orchard was published by the International Apple Corp for about several years. It was aimed primarily at user groups, and was billed as a user's group user's group. Contents of early issues were a compendium of articles from various user group newsletters.<3>
In the late 1970's, Steven Disbrow entered the world of microcomputers with his purchase of a TRS-80 ModelI, 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 AppleII's 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 AppleIIc 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 AppleII 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 AppleIIGS, 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 AppleIIGS, 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 AppleIIGS 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 AppleII users at the time, as they saw less and less active support from Apple for their computer. Still in print at the time of this writing, GS+ concentrates 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.<6>
SoftDisk (Sep 1981-Present) / Softdisk GS (Nov 1988-Present)
One of the survivors in the AppleII magazine world is 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 AppleII 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 AppleII, 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. 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!<10> 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_ how the program he was selling looked. 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 AppleII 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).<11> 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 AppleII 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.<12> 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.<12> Softdisk, Inc. added a disk magazine in 1986 for the IBM PC, called "Big Blue Disk".<13> 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.<14> By 1987, Softdisk began again advertising itself in magazines, a practice that has been continued up to the present time. This began a large expansion in circulation for the Softdisk magazette and their other disk publications.<14> 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.<15> In November 1988, the first issue of Softdisk GS was released, supporting the standard IIGS desktop interface standards. This publication has maintained a high quality standard and has done well. At the time of this writing, Softdisk, Inc. continues to put out the following monthly disk magazines: Softdisk for 8-bit AppleII's; Softdisk GS for the IIGS; On Disk Monthly (formerly Big Blue Disk) for the IBM PC; Gamer's Edge, also for the IBM PC; and Diskworld for the Macintosh. Loadstar for the Commodore 64/128 is still available, but only on a quarterly basis.
Foreign Apple II Magazines
The AppleII not only got press in the United States, but has also been on the newsstands in Europe in various forms, though most are no longer being published. One that began as "Windfall" (later changing its name to "Apple User") was the biggest magazine for some time. "Peeker" was published in Germany, and carried articles similar to those found in Nibble. In the Netherlands there are still a few hobbyist magazines that cater to the AppleII crowd, including "Klokhuis" (which means "Apple-Core"), "Pro-2" and "Het AppleDossier".<16> In Britain there was at one time a magazine called "Orchard Computing", published by a company named Argus Specialist Publications. Some of the issues were primarily reprints from Nibble, but they also accepted articles from local readers.<17>
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Telecommunications
<1> Hood, Hugh. GEnie, A2 Roundtable, Oct 1991, Category 2, Topic 16.
<2> Wessel, Hank. GEnie, A2 Roundtable, Oct 1991, Category 2, Topic 16.
<3> Vanderpool, Tom. GEnie, A2 Roundtable, Oct 1991, Category 2, Topic 16.
<4> Felty, Wes. GEnie, A2 Roundtable, Oct 1991, Category 2, Topic 16.
<5> McIntosh, Ross. GEnie, A2 Roundtable, Oct 1991, Mar 1992, Category 2, Topic 16.
<6> Disbrow, Steven. "Old Timers: Magazines", 1992 A2 Central Summer Conference (tapes), July 1992.
<7> Schack, Robert. GEnie, A2 Roundtable, Oct 1991, Category 2, Topic 16.
<8> Weyhrich, Steven. "MACH Interview: Tom Weishaar", M.A.C.H. News, Jul 1991, pp. 6-11.
<9> Weishaar, Tom. -----, A2-Central Catalog, Fall 1990, p. 2.
<10> -----. "The History of Softdisk: Part 1", Soft Talk (company newsletter), Oct 1987.
<11> -----. "The History of Softdisk: Part 2", Soft Talk (company newsletter), Nov 1987.
<12> -----. "The History of Softdisk: Part 3", Soft Talk (company newsletter), Dec 1987.
<13> -----. "The History of Softdisk: Part 4", Soft Talk (company newsletter), Jan 1988.
<14> -----. "The History of Softdisk: Part V", Soft Talk (company newsletter), Feb 1988.
<15> -----. "The History of Softdisk: Conclusion", Soft Talk (company newsletter), Mar 1988.
<16> Crouzen, Alex. GEnie, A2 Roundtable, Oct 1991, Category 2, Topic 16.
<17> Alfter, Scott. GEnie, A2 Roundtable, Oct 1991, Category 2, Topic 16.