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Profile: Jerry Stern

April 20th, 2012

The Association of Software Professionals started out in 1987. Our members invented the way that software is sold today, as pioneers in try-before-you-buy marketing.

Here’s another in our series of profiles of our members. All we asked was this: How did you get started?

Jerry Stern, of Science Translations, joined the ASP on October 18th, 1992 and his various online projects are online at www.sciencetranslations.com

 


Back in the Autumn of 1991, I had successfully escaped retail management, was working on a Masters’ Degree in Professional Writing, and was creating a database for a conference of academic journal editors at Towson University. I was asked if it was possible for me to desktop-publish a book written by an Associate Professor. They wanted a pretty complex layout for the time: two columns, lots of tables and clip art, 100 pages long, with an index and table of contents. The software available was WordPerfect 5.1 for MS-DOS running on an original IBM PC (4 MHz), and I would create camera-ready copy for the university print shop to print and bind, using the HP Laserjet (first edition, no numbers!), in the graduate school office..

The problem in assembling the book was mostly in collecting the clip art, and then having the author choose what went where in the book, in some organized way. I needed a clip art catalog, and there was no such thing for WordPerfect back in those days. I was already programming extensively on the TI-99/4a, so I looked for a programming solution. I learned the WordPerfect macro language, and wrote the basic cataloger than I needed, including options for columns and image sizes, and I gave it the obvious name of ‘Graphcat’. That made producing the book easier, and that’s how we created Teaching Strategies for Writing-Across-the-Curriculum Faculty. In those days, I also wrote occasionally for WordPerfect Magazine, and I submitted an article with the macro, but the reply came back immediately: “Oh, sorry, we did that last month; it should arrive any day now.” It did, and “it” was a spectacularly trivial piece of code.

Now, Graphcat 1.0, as sent to the magazine, was one page of program code. I decided to convert the program to a product; I added a full-screen display and error-trapping for every prompt, plus an order form, sample graphics, installation instructions, and a 20-page instruction manual. The macro code jumped to 20 pages. I released Graphcat 2.0 as shareware in October 1991. This was back in the BBS days… First sale was two weeks later, from 60 miles away. Then 300 miles, then 500, 3000, and then international.

Months pass. Public Brand Software, in Indiana, published Graphcat in their shareware catalog, and mailed me a flyer about the upcoming Summer Shareware Seminar. I drove to Indianapolis that Summer, took 30 pages of notes, heard about the ASP, and decided to join.

Two decades later. The conference is now ISVCon, owned by the ASP, and I’ve been editing the ASP’s newsletter, ASPects, since 1997. Graphcat is up to version 6.1 for WordPerfect X5 now, running in 64-bit Windows. I have many projects these days, but the beginnings of all of them was programming and publishing software back in the early ‘90s.

Interviews, Uncategorized

Profile: Tom Simondi

April 15th, 2012
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The Association of Software Professionals started out in 1987. Our members invented the way that software is sold today, as pioneers in try-before-you-buy marketing.

Here’s another in our series of profiles of our members. All we asked was this: How did you get started?

Tom Simondi, of Computer Knowledge, joined the ASP on April 28, 1987 and is online at www.cknow.com


After college I went into the Air Force for a twenty-year career retiring at a grade of Lt. Col. Toward the end of that twenty years, Apple put out this thing called the Apple II and, being interested in technology of all kinds and having previous experience with the larger computers, I went to a local Computerland and took a look. After several times in the store, talking with the manager, I got one at a good price in return for my writing software reviews for a second company he had that published such things. Thus was born my company Computer Knowledge (how’s that for bragging?) and I started getting bunches of Apple II software, testing them, and writing reviews.

Got pretty good at it and when IBM came out with their PC the manager arranged for me to get one of the first of those and I continued doing reviews for both platforms.

About the same time I became a life member of the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) and was active in their Los Angeles chapter to the point where I eventually started a computer subgroup for the LA chapter. Since most of the financial software of the time was based on the spreadsheet I became rather good with them and that led to my first book, “What If? A Guide to Computer Modeling.” While it was an interesting job writing it, the book never really took off as the last chapter, inserted just before publishing, mentioned that a new spreadsheet was just coming onto the market: Lotus 1-2-3.

Since that program exploded onto the scene the book was quickly dated. Several other books that were nothing but collections of past reviews that had been updated followed but none of those really took off.

After the Air Force I did some teaching and was given the chance to start the microcomputer program at El Camino Junior College in the LA area. Wanting to give the students something to read on their own computer and wanting to learn some programming that did not involve rows and columns I latched onto Turbo Pascal and wrote a program that read coded data files and presented them to the user a screen at a time. The students found the program useful.

Watching the market I had noticed some software being sold on a try-before-buy model and so I put TUTOR.COM on the market using this model. (You can see how original I was by naming the program after the executable name.) It became quite popular and the 22 June 1987 issue of Info World carried a PC-Sig story that highlighted the program as number three behind PC-Write and PC-Calc. Given that this put me just behind Bob Wallace and Jim Knopf (Button) it was  something of a high for me. (Indeed, about that same time I attended a Houston meeting with those two and other shareware authors of the time and out of that meeting came the Association of Shareware Professionals, now the Association of Software Professionals.)

Over time, the minicomputer tutorial morphed into a complete DOS tutorial and, along with that, a virus tutorial was written to try to explain computer viruses to a non-computer audience. If you look hard enough in a search you can even find the original DOS versions of these programs still on some download sites.

As my day job edged out the physical software business and as I did not bother to learn Windows programming, the shareware programs turned into freeware and, eventually, the virus tutorial became a main feature on the Computer
Knowledge website.

As that website grew, one page on the site, a list of file extensions and the programs that used them along with links to those programs, became quite popular. I eventually peeled that page off the CKnow site and from that arose FILEXT.COM which grew like the proverbial weed.

Finally, after FILExt peaked I decided to sell it and retire. I still maintain the CKnow.com site and some personal sites but not actively as I’m having too much fun in retirement.

 

Interviews, Uncategorized

Profile: Harold Holmes

March 20th, 2012
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The Association of Software Professionals started out in 1987. Our members invented the way that software is sold today, as pioneers in try-before-you-buy marketing.

Here’s another in our series of profiles of our members. All we asked was this: How did you get started?

Harold Holmes, of Lincoln Beach Software, joined the ASP on May 16th, 1992, and is online at www.lincolnbeach.com


 

My beginnings…

I didn’t know what I wanted to study when I graduated High School but in my last semester I took a fun class learning how to use/program an Apple computer. I was hooked! We got our own TRS-80 Color Computer with dual disk drives and 64k of memory! I wrote lots of “for fun” stuff for it. A short time later on an IBM I started out writing a construction spreadsheet using LOTUS 123 that would allow builders to enter layout dimensions for a home and it would calculate all the necessary lumber/hardware to build the house. Then I put it into a BASIC program but I couldn’t see “giving away” the source so I picked up a C book and started learning Turbo C. In the process of learning C I abandoned the idea of create an building app and wrote my first official product that I would sell. It was the DOS installer “First Impression.”

The online world back then was Bulletin Boards (BBS). I remember logging in and updating several sites each night. My wife was my document editor and moral supporter.

I attended the first Summer Shareware Seminar (SSS) put on by Public Brand Software, now the Software Industry Conference (SIC) and sitting next to Ed from Contact Plus and seeing his shiny product box and thinking “I thought this conference was for the little guys.” hahaha… That was pretty much the launchpad for Lincoln Beach Software. Had my first sale at SSS, to Carl from Pine Grove Software! Since then I’ve been COB and President of the ASP, and served on the Shareware Industry Awards Foundation.

When Windows became the future I dragged my feet for as long as I could. Then I took the plunge and bought a copy of VB and Delphi 1 and wrote the same program in both to see which platform I liked. Delphi won hands down and since them I have written over 30 different apps. That’s my story and I’m stick’n to it!

 

 

Interviews, Uncategorized

Profile: Tom Guthery IV

March 10th, 2012
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The Association of Software Professionals started out in 1987. Our members invented the way that software is sold today, as pioneers in try-before-you-buy marketing.

Here’s another in our series of profiles of our members. All we asked was this: How did you get started?

Tom Guthery IV, of Flix Productions, joined the ASP on January 5th, 1995, and is online at www.flixprod.com


Tom Guthery IV was born in Middlesex England, where his father was stationed in the United States Navy. After graduating high school, Tom joined the United States Air Force and was stationed at Bergstrom AFB, Austin TX, where he worked as a computer operator for four years. Upon his honorable discharge he received the Air Force Commendation Medal for meritorious service. He soon went to work for the State of Texas as a computer operator. In the meantime, he developed his skills as an animator, doing classical, hand-drawn, animation. (His first film was completed while he was still in high school.) He did some work for television advertising, but decided this was not the field he wanted to pursue.

With the aid of three film grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (administered by the Southwest Alternate Media Project), Tom was able to further his development in the field of animation, producing several animated films which won international awards. By 1990 the personal computer had matured to the point where Tom could combine his interests in both computers and animation. As an animator, he had not been impressed with the quality of the graphics and animation in most of the children’s software available at that time. Producing full-screen, high-resolution animation on the PC’s of 1990 proved to be quite a challenge. But after nearly six months of effort, and with the aid of the GRASP (GRaphical Animation System for Professionals) language, he completed his first animated educational program, “Animated Alphabet”, on his birthday, May 21, 1990. Using thousands of drawings, Tom’s programs give smooth movement and detailed animation to a degree that many programmers had thought impossible at the time.

Tom’s company, Flix Productions, is really a family affair. Tom focuses on the design, animation and programming, while his wife Deborah handles most of the administrative chores. Their three children, Tommy, John and Kelly, are the main “beta testers” and also get paid for stuffing envelopes and formatting disks. Tom’s mother, who has taught first and second grade for over 20 years, has been his primary educational consultant.

The Guthery children have also served as inspiration. According to Tom, “Before I had children, I would have probably exploited this ability to do silly or strange cartoons (most of my grant films could be described this way). But after reading ‘Mother Goose’ to my children several hundred times, and playing innumerable games of ‘Uncle Wiggly’ and ‘Candyland’, I suppose something must have rubbed off. I decided that since I couldn’t find any children’s software I was happy with for my own kids to use, I would write my own. The humor that I used in my animated films became a big part of the animated children’s software I eventually developed. Years later, I read about a study Children’s Television Workshop had done when they were preparing to develop ‘Sesame Street’, and among its findings were that children were engaged by humor, especially humor derived from incongruous situations (an elephant jumping out of a compact car, for instance). I had stumbled across the same universal truth by watching the reactions of my own children as I developed my first program, ‘Animated Alphabet’, and the element of silly comedy has remained a mainstay of all my programs.”

In addition to online and shareware marketing, several of Tom’s programs have also been made available to the public in LCR (low-cost retail) packages, published by SofSource. Additional programs have been produced exclusively for retail (available at Sears, K-Mart, CompUSA, Osco, Waldensoftware, Best Buy, Electronics Boutique, Computer City, Software Etc., Office Max, Babbages, Eckerd Drug, Meijers, and many more outlets).

Coincidences

Have you ever read C.S. Lewis’s “Screwtape Letters”? There’s a neat passage in there about how God works through what seems like coincidences–people expect big miracles, but most often it is through things that just look like chance.

My little journey in shareware came through these “coincidences”:

We got a PC for my wife to do a typing biz, but it didn’t work out, so we had an expensive PC sitting around and nothing to do with it.

My dad gave me a book about shareware (I had never heard of shareware before).

My neighbor brought home a shareware catalog (I didn’t know shareware catalogs existed before that).

I got a modem and discovered 100’s of Austin BBS’s and shareware.

I discovered the GRASP animation language on BBS’s.

I found a copy of GRASP ver. 1.10c in a shareware catalog.

It was an old version and when I tried to register it the letter came back address unknown.

I spent 6 months trying to track down GRASP – I knew there was a newer version, but I didn’t know where it came from (they had version 3.2 run-times on BBS’s). A guy on a BBS newsgroup (or whatever they called them in those days)told me that GRASP was published by Paul Mace.

I contacted Paul Mace Software and found that the newest version of GRASP (3.5) didn’t require royalty payments for each copy distributed. Had I found GRASP six months sooner the royalty requirement would have killed the possibility of shareware–imagine paying a royalty for each copy of a shareware program on a BBS.

I didn’t have the $350 to buy it, but my Dad needed some work done and paid me $350.

The rest is history 🙂

If any of those things in that chain of events hadn’t happened, or in some cases happened when it did, I wouldn’t have jumped into the untested waters of spending a ton of time creating “Animated Alphabet” in the hopes that someone would buy it.

Oh yes, one more “coincidence”. The reason I got into shareware was financial–I hadn’t gotten a promotion from my job as a computer operator for the state of Texas in 6 years. Guess when I finally got the raise? Two months before I quit my job because shareware was doing well and because a guy in NY saw my shareware on a BBS and hired me to do medical animation (I worked for him for 10 years). If I had gotten the raise sooner I wouldn’t have tried doing shareware.

Interviews, Uncategorized

Profile: Gary Elfring

December 25th, 2011
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The Association of Software Professionals started out in 1987. Our members invented the way that software is sold today, as pioneers in try-before-you-buy marketing.

Here’s another in our series of profiles of our members. All we asked was this: How did you get started?

Gary Elfring, of Elfring Fonts, Inc, joined the ASP on January 11th, 1989, and is online at www.mybarcodestore.com

Jerry Stern, Editor, ASPects


 
Gary Elfring

I specialized in computer signal processing in graduate school. When I got out of school I went to work for a small medical company, which was a “pet” project of Mr Schlumberger. (One of the two brothers who founded Schlumberger.) He had a medical device based on a PDP-8 minicomputer and he needed major software and hardware developed for it. I finished the hardware and explained exactly how the software should work to Mr Schlumberger.

He did not think my software ideas would work or fly with the doctors who would use the device. He told me not to implement those ideas for his big conference where he would show off his new device. I, of course, completely ignored him. I made the software work exactly the way I wanted it, and I had a back door which would let it run the way he wanted it to work. (Just in case.)

At the big conference, I demonstrated the device, running in “Gary” mode. The doctors loved it. Mr Schlumberger was *very* quiet. Nothing happened for about 2 weeks after the conference. Then I was summoned to a meeting with Mr Schlumberger. He told me that my approach was much better than his, the doctors loved the way his device now worked, and he gave me a complete build-it-yourself home computer kit. (It cost about $2,000 back in 1976.)

I built the computer and started writing software for it, since there was nothing available. When CP/M came out I built a floppy disk interface and wrote the bios for the CP/M operating system and that brand of home computer. I started selling the bios and that was the start of my software sales.

Interviews, Uncategorized

Profile: Jerry Medlin

December 15th, 2011
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The Association of Software Professionals started out in 1987. Our members invented modern software marketing, try-before-you-buy, and freeware and changed how software is sold.

Here’s another in our series of profiles of our members. All we asked was this: How did you get started?

Jerry Medlin, of Medlin Accounting Shareware, joined the ASP on July 23rd, 1987, and is online at www.medlin.com.

Jerry Stern, Editor, ASPects


 

Jerry Medlin

I graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in Industrial Engineering. My first job was with Procter and Gamble in Memphis. I absolutely hated Memphis and decided I had had enough of the Bible Belt. So, in January ‘67 I flew to San Francisco and within a few days had a job working at the Alameda Naval Air Rework Facility, doing plant layout for aircraft over hall. I had found my place. If you remember, 1967 was the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco. I met my wife there in 1969 and worked for Lucky Breweries for a year and then C & H Sugar for three years.

I never really liked working as an “efficiency expert”; following people around with a stop watch. After our daughter was born in 1973, I decided I did not want to live the conventional life of watching my kids grow up only during nights and weekends. So, I quit my job and purchased a bookkeeping franchise. The only county not covered was Napa, so we packed up and moved to Napa. At that time, Napa had on about 40 wineries and the main employers were the state hospital and Mare Island Shipyard in Vallejo.

I enjoyed being self-employed and helping small businesses keep straight with the various government stuff. The bookkeeping franchise used a mainframe computer and I paid a hefty monthly fee for processing. When the Radio Shack computer came out, I bought one of the first 16k machines. There was no software available, so I taught myself how to program and wrote a series of accounting programs for my own use, using the Radio Shacks cheap little tape recorder to store client data. Like all software, it is/was a lifetime project. I sold the programs to other accountants in Napa, and capitalizing on their problems, I improved the programs.

In 1984, I read an article about PC-Talk and Andrew Fugleman and thought “I could do that.” In June, I sent out 100 disks to various computer clubs around the country. In November I received my first check. The business grew. Except for a brief dip during the switch from DOS to Windows, the business has grown regularly for 27 years.

Interviews, Uncategorized

Profile: Gregg Seelhoff

December 5th, 2011
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The Association of Software Professionals started out in 1987. Our members ended the rule of software boxes on shelves by inventing try-before-you-buy, and now, that’s how all good software is sold.

Here’s another in our series of profiles of our members. All we asked was this: How did you get started?

Gregg Seelhoff, of Digital Gamecraft, joined the ASP on December 30th, 1999, and is online at http://blog.gamecraft.org/

Jerry Stern, Editor, ASPects


 

Gregg Seelhoff

I grew up with a love of games, and I spent a couple of weeks each summer at my uncle’s pinball arcade, just at the time when video games were starting to appear, so I literally grew up alongside video games. I also really enjoyed board games, card games (including lots of solitaire), and had a growing interest in Dungeons and Dragons.

Then, in late 1978, a friend took me to the local computer store, where I was able to play computer games on microcomputers, including a game called Wizard’s Castle, a role-playing game (like D&D), on the Exidy Sorceror. An in-game death experience caused me to learn that the game’s author worked in the store, and he talked me through a couple of BASIC commands which resurrected my character, and this first “programming” experience caused me to start learning BASIC that very day. The next day, I was back at the store and ended up (at the age of 12) helping a college student debug and fix his number-theory program, and I have been programming ever since.

Of course, I always wanted to create games on the computer, so I spent most of my time teaching myself programming (from books) and designing (and even coding) games on paper, all while trying to borrow computer time whenever and wherever I could. Even though I did not have my own computer yet, I formed my company in 1982 for the purpose of programming video games. I tried to sell one game, written for the TRS-80, via Computer Shopper. Later that year, I got my first programming job, earning enough over the summer to buy myself a Commodore VIC-20 (but not enough for an Apple ][ like the ones I had been primarily using). I wrote lots of games for the VIC-20 and attempted (naively) to publish one of those video games via retail channels.

After high school I had a couple of full-time programming jobs on the (new) IBM PC, so I changed my focus to writing games for DOS. I learned about shareware and managed to obtain a decent development system, so I bought a couple of inexpensive compilers and struck out on my own. Shortly thereafter, I learned that there was (incredibly) a game development company, Quest Software, writing retail games near my hometown, and I soon got hired as their lead programmer, where I worked on two retail games, Legacy of the Ancients (Electronic Arts) and Legend of Blacksilver (Epyx). Unfortunately, Quest went out of business in 1990, but during the decline, I managed to finish and release my first shareware game, Pacmania 1.1, a Pac-Man clone.

It was a moderate success, and led to several interesting opportunities, but it was not enough to feed my family, so I worked for a couple of years programming in the emerging field of multimedia, before deciding to get back into retail games. I had a short stint working at (fellow ASP member) TechSmith, as the only programmer (at the time) working on SnagIt (version 2.1), before receiving a few job offers from the West Coast. I accepted a Senior Software Engineer position at Spectrum HoloByte and was soon the lead programmer on Star Trek: The Next Generation, “A Final Unity.” Toward the end of that project, several issues converged to bring me back to Michigan where, in late 1994, my company went full-time.

The next year, I brought in a partner to handle the artwork for the games we planned to create, and we pursued retail game funding while surviving on contract work for a number of different companies, including Zombie Games, Legend Entertainment, and MVP Software, culminating in work on Microsoft Plus! Game Pack: Cards and Puzzles, as we shifted our focus back towards shareware. Our (long overdue) membership in the ASP led to working with Goodsol Development, initially on artwork and a custom library for Pretty Good Solitaire, and subsequently on several new products, including (SIA winner) Pretty Good MahJongg, and an expansion to new platforms. This collaboration has now continued for 10 years!

Digital Gamecraft plans to release a new (IOS) product later this year.

Interviews, Uncategorized

Profile: Jim Allen

November 25th, 2011
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The Association of Software Professionals started out in 1987. Our members broke the shelf-ware model, inventing try-before-you-buy, and now, that’s how software is sold.

Here’s another in our series of profiles of our members. All we asked was this: How did you get started?

Jim Allen, of J.A. Associates, joined the ASP December 5, 1999, and is online at http://www.j-a-associates.com/

Jerry Stern, Editor, ASPects


 

Jim Allen

Spent my entire working life in Southern California working for various transformer companies.

Self taught myself Basic in 1968 using a teletype, what fun. Didn’t use it much, fairly expensive connect time, replaced most of what I was using it for with an HP 65 then HP 97 programmable calculator.

Then along came the Commodore 64, I wrote and had published (Run and Compute! magazines) several programs for it and the Commodore 128 while still using the HP 97 at work.

After getting my first IBM compatible I wrote and sold a program for designing inductors and another to calculate the Q of inductors, kept my day job; actually by then I’d started my own consulting firm.

I joined the ASP in 1999 after I wrote the first rendition of the RPN Engineering Calculator.

Retired in 2007 after moving to Coos County on the Oregon coast, bought an RV and we’ve racked up about 30,000 miles since.

Interviews, Uncategorized

Profile: David Hyde

November 15th, 2011
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The Association of Software Professionals started out back in 1987. Our members invented try-before-you-buy, and changed how software is sold. Now, we have everyone from app builders to web developers benefiting from our private newsgroups, member discounts, and our shared experience on how to market software.

Here’s another in our series of profiles of our members. All we asked was this: How did you get started?

David Hyde, of HydeSoft Computing, joined the ASP July 23, 2002, and is online at www.dplot.com

Jerry Stern, Editor, ASPects


 
David Hyde

My college training was rudimentary at best (CS majors would say non-existent): Introduction to FORTRAN and a steel frame analysis class that involved hours and hours of typing punch cards, standing in line (don’t you DARE drop that stack!), then several minutes after feeding the cards in, getting a syntax error due to a typo on card 786 of 1324. One diagnostic at a time, so the cycle was repeated MANY times. What I learned from that class was mostly that I didn’t want to work with computers :-), though I did pick up enough FORTRAN to get by.

In ‘82 I went to work at an engineering lab. Most computer work was done at a dumb Tektronix terminal (that had REALLY good graphics for the day–no pixels, instead vectors were… well, vectors) hooked to a Honeywell mainframe. And then PCs came along and POW. I fooled around a lot with BASICA and IBM’s FORTRAN offering and hoped that jazzing up my hotrod 6Mhz system with a 9Mhz clock crystal wouldn’t cause the building to catch on fire. I fooled around with a lot of graphing stuff and pretty basic physics problems. I also taught myself assembly language to optimize graphics and create my own menu system (all of which became irrelevant when Windows took over the world, but it was good experience).

Then in ~’88 our director dictated that each of five labs should publish a report/manual in some sort of electronic format, and I jumped at it thinking it sounded like fun. At the time I was involved with a big test series and figured I’d come up with an electronic version of my report, complete with 16-color pictures 🙂 (How in the world did we put up with that?) Thankfully that project got delayed and delayed and delayed some more and, because the deadline for an “electronic version of ” was going to occur before that project was completed, I chose instead to publish an electronic version of a technical manual our lab had contributed quite a bit to, including all the calculations and… this is the important part for the private me… graphical output of those calculations.

If the test program had kept to the schedule… well, I’d most likely not be an ASP member or have ever heard of the other ASP members in our newsgroups, and that would be a tragedy.

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Profile: Sam Bellotto Jr.

October 17th, 2011
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The Association of Software Professionals started out back in 1987. Our members invented the software marketing model of try-before-you-buy, and changed the world forever. Now, we have everyone from assembly programmers to app developers benefiting from our private newsgroups, member discounts, and our shared experience on how to market software.

This is the first of a series of profiles of our members. All we asked was this: How did you get started?

Sam Bellotto Jr., of Crossdown, joined the ASP Feb 22, 1992, and is online at www.crossdown.com

Jerry Stern, Editor, ASPects


 

As far back as I can recall, I’ve been passionate about science and writing. All through high school I won numerous science fairs and gotten dozens of  rejections for my science fiction stories. When not blowing up the basement or blowing up imaginary planets, I enjoyed doing crossword puzzles. Naturally, my greatest ambition was to be a science writer.

For that, I went to Long Island University, which had a renowned Journalism Department (google Polk Awards), was located in New York City (a hotbed of science fiction), and nary a computer in sight, but an impressive science department nonetheless. During my final college years, in fact, I self-published and edited an amateur sci-fi magazine which drew eager contributions from many artists and writers who are big names today. I wanted the magazine to include a crossword.

Not being able to find someone to contribute a sci-fi puzzle for cheap, I constructed one myself. An issue of “Perihelion Science Fiction” has recently been listed on e-Bay for $500!

The fiction aspect never panned out. But I did find a modicum of success writing for and editing assorted trade publications. Because of my science background, I was the go-to guy for technical articles about calculators, copiers, computers and other office machines that did not begin with “c.” IBM and I were on a first name basis.

For relaxation, I got tired of solving crosswords. No challenge anymore. I took a stab at constructing them. And after several encouraging rejections from then New York Times’ Crossword Editor Eugene T. Maleska, he bought and published my first puzzle in the Times’ Sunday Magazine.

Then came the Great Convergence. Kaypro released an affordable personal computer. Trade magazines got heavily into compiling databases. The economy soured. I discovered I could make good money by maintaining these databases on computer with dBase. Fiddling around with my Kaypro-II, I also wrote several routines in Turbo Pascal that would help me with my puzzle endeavors. But I couldn’t do a lot with them commercially until MS-DOS emerged.

Fast forward to the present. I still write occasionally. I don’t do databases anymore. Crosswords and crossword software are way too much fun.

 

Interviews, Uncategorized