History

Overview – User Group, News, Magazines, Books, Apps, and Sites

Apple Pugetsound Program Library Exchange (A.P.P.L.E.) was one of the first official Apple User Groups in the United States.  Founded in 1978 by Val J. Golding, A.P.P.L.E. grew quickly and membership peaked to almost 50,000 global members by 1985.  Since many of our members have been Apple users since the first machines were produced, we have one of the most knowledgeable groups in the world.  Member benefits:  www.callapple.org/members

A.P.P.L.E. is also resource for news about retro and modern Apple products and other technologies at:  www.callapple.org

Call-A.P.P.L.E. is the name of our magazine that started in 1978 and ran through 1990, and was one of the most widely-distributed magazines in the world.  We restarted the magazine in 2002 and continue publishing the magazine as a PDF to our paid members, with extensive articles on programming, news, reviews, and interviews:  www.callapple.org/magazines

 

A.P.P.L.E. is also a book publisher. In 2013, The WOZPAK Special Edition was released containing Steve Wozniak’s restored hand-written notes and printouts about his Apple II computer, as well as a forward from Steve Wozniak and other Apple legends.  We actively publish several retro books a year and recently released:  Cyber Jack: The Adventures of Robert Clardy and Synergistic Software, Nibble Viewpoints: Business Insights From The Computing Revolution, What’s Where in the Apple: Enhanced Edition, and The Colossal Computer Cartoon Book: Enhanced Edition, among others.  All of our books are listed at:  www.callapple.org/books

 

As a game publisher, we released the retro block game Structris that was originally programmed on an Apple II and enhanced for iOS.  We also publish other websites.  AppleArchives.com hosts a variety of other content we’ve produced about early computer companies like Beagle Bros, Applied Engineering, MECC, and also links to resources around the Internet.  VirtualApple.org online since 2003 will run Apple II software in a Web browser.

 

Brief A.P.P.L.E. History

The A.P.P.L.E. Users Group was established February 21, 1978 by Val J. Golding.   The first meeting of the new users group was called to order at 7pm by Val at ComputerLand in Federal Way, Washington with 13 people in attendance.

A.P.P.L.E. published Call-A.P.P.L.E. magazine and others, published books, and provided software, hardware and support services for over 50,000 members in the Apple world through 1990.  Distribution of Call-A.P.P.L.E. magazine reached over 100,000 in the mid 1980’s.  From 1990 to 2001, A.P.P.L.E. had a more limited focus providing support to computer users around the globe with many special interests.

Bill Martens, who worked for the founder Val J. Golding and A.P.P.L.E. from 1981 to 1982, started preserving the company’s information and rebuilding the company in 1999 by contacting former writers, board members and staff.  In February 2002, Bill continued this effort with a new issue of Call-A.P.P.L.E. magazine.  However, this could not have been achieved without the help of Val Golding, Don Williams, Michael Thyng, Rick Sutcliffe, and Norman Dodge.  Bill continued being a visionary, promoting A.P.P.L.E., restoring its archives, and expanding its offerings.  Bill is currently A.P.P.L.E. Chairman of the Board and the Club President, and is in charge of distributing Call-A.P.P.L.E. magazine, organizing this web site, and promoting news, among other things.

In 2003, Mike Pfaiffer joined with Bill, bringing his Digital Civilization news to the group and the magazine.  He also joined the A.P.P.L.E. team as a director and served both as Vice President and as President of the group for a number of years. The content produced by Mike not only pushed the magazine into the Unix realm, but also allowed the magazine to continue during several years when Bill was working as a USMC contractor.

At this same time, Bill Martens purchased the remains of the WAC, Inc. users group from Neal Layton of the Willamette Apple Connection of Salem Oregon, including their newsletters and software library.  It was brought under the A.P.P.L.E. umbrella with all of the libraries and newsletters digitized and placed online.  A.P.P.L.E. has also had a hand in the production of a number of external projects as well, including the re-introduction of Nibble Magazine on DVD as well as the Eamon Adventurers Guild online.

In 2008, Brian Wiser joined the executive staff, and made significant art and manual additions to our official Beagle Bros site, as well as creating our Applied Engineering site with his manuals, catalogs, and his self-created brochures.  In 2013, with Bill Martens, he produced The WOZPAK: Special Edition as A.P.P.L.E.’s first contemporary book.  Since then, Brian continues to design, edit and co-produce all books published by A.P.P.L.E., encompassing several a year.  Brian is currently an A.P.P.L.E. Board member, Managing Editor of Call-A.P.P.L.E. magazine, and also shares news and his interviews with many luminaries.

 


DETAILED EARLY HISTORY

 

Val 1c2Profile of the Founder

Val J. Golding founded Apple Pugetsound Program Library Exchange (A.P.P.L.E.) in 1978 with the help of Mike Thyng and Bob Huelsdonk at the suggestion of Max Cook, a manager at the ComputerLand where Val bought his Apple II. Val also wrote for Softdisk, On-three and other technology magazines over the years primarily making his mark in the early years of Apple computing. As the founder, Val was instrumental in guiding the company to the position it is in now.  With production of Call-A.P.P.L.E. magazine resuming, Val was the Managing Editor of Call-A.P.P.L.E. magazine and also served as the chairman of the board of directors. His wife and daughters were a big part of documenting his stories about his hobby of Cable Cars, and he was the editor of a highly acclaimed newsletter for his daughter’s school. He passed away at age 77 on July 2, 2008 after a long battle with cancer.

 

About  A.P.P.L.E. – In the Words of the Founder

I started with the acronym and just played around with it until I found something that fit. I was never happy with combining “Pugetsound” but I never figured a better word. The “Program Library Exchange” of course, was a natural, because that was what we started out doing. A couple of us, including Mike Thyng and Bob Huelsdonk bought our computers from Max and naturally I was calling him with loads of questions at first, most of which he couldn’t answer.

Bob was pretty savvy, having been in the business (with Honeywell) for quite some time and was able to point me in the right direction for the answers. Max, although a nice guy, was “just” a salesman. Eventually he began calling me (as I started developing some Apple technical expertise) with questions and that was how the A.P.P.L.E. hot line got started.

After the club was formed I gave out my phone number as the hot line number and many times I’d answer it in the middle of the night (like from the east coast, etc.). We separated about 14 or 15 years ago on the best of terms. Usually we have her over for dinner and a movie on Sunday.

The calls I got most often were from somebody who had inadvertently or otherwise, deleted their program (Integer or Applesoft, either one) and I’d talk them through manually resetting their program pointers to recover the program.  Todd Rungren, still an active rock star, used to call frequently.

Call-A.P.P.L.E. Vol 1, No. 1 was designated as such only after the fact, i.e., when the second issue came out. No. 1 in fact was a form letter mailed to customers as an invitation to form an Apple Computer user group. It seems to me we were just a handful of people and I offered the name and we all informally said “That’s fine with me” or words to the effect. I’m thinking Call-A.P.P.L.E. Vol. 1 No. 1 may have had that at the top of the page already.

 

The New Machine

In December 1977, Val Golding took his Christmas bonus and bought a computer.  Although, he originally intended to buy the Chromeco, he caught a glimpse of the brand new Apple II computer which ComputerLand had just gotten in. After purchasing Apple II serial number 759 for $1,800, he promptly went home and plugged it in.

Although the computer was completely self-contained, in order to connect it to a TV an RF Modulator was needed. This little item was a bit of a problem at times.  Once connected, the Apple would produce color the likes of which the world had not seen to this point.

Val hacked on the computer for several weeks, calling Max Cook for questions which Val couldn’t figure out.  After several weeks, however, it became apparent that Val would have to find another source for information as the number of questions which Max was able to answer on each call was becoming fewer and fewer.  As this happened, the roles became reversed with Max calling Val for answers. [1]

 

What’s in a Name

Of course the proposed group still had no name but it definitely had a bold purpose.  The name could not have come without all of the fanfare and revelry that normally comes with the naming of a group or company.  As Val Golding said:

“I started with the acronym and just played around with it until I found something that fit. I was never happy with combining “Pugetsound” but I never figured a better word. The “Program Library Exchange” of course, was a natural, because that was what we started out doing. A couple of us, including Mike Thyng and Bob Huelsdonk bought our computers from Max and naturally I was calling him with loads of questions at first, most of which he couldn’t answer.

Bob was pretty savvy, having been in the business (with Honeywell) for quite some time and was able to point me in the right direction for the answers. Max, although a nice guy, was “just” a salesman. Eventually he began calling me (as I started developing some Apple technical expertise) with questions and that was how the A.P.P.L.E. hotline got started.” [2]

 

A.P.P.L.E. is Born

In January, during his usual trip to the ComputerLand store, Val met another Apple II owner, Bob Huelsdonk.  Val and Bob talked for some length of time with Max Cook and decided that as information about the Apple II was scant, that they should start an Apple Users Group.

Val created a one page notice of a meeting and distributed it to all of the Apple II owners who were on the customer lists of ComputerLand, Empire Electronics, and Omega Stereo.  The date that was set for this meeting was the 16th of February, 1978.  (The one page notice was later specified as Call-A.P.P.L.E. Volume 1, Number 1)

At that first meeting, about 20 people attended with 12 of them joining the group after the meeting.  From this humble beginning, the group incorporated in 1979 as a non-profit organization and promptly grew beyond all expectations reaching the 5,000 member mark by 1980 and the 12,000 mark by 1981. [6]

 

A Magazine is Born

The Call-A.P.P.L.E. newsletter, which was established in February 1978, also continued to grow as did the group and the availability of information for the Apple II.  By the end of 1978, the newsletter had reached 20 pages in length.  It become a 24-page printed newsletter in January 1979 and soon thereafter a step further – becoming a 36-page magazine with glossy covers in April 1979.  The year finished with the November/December issue reaching 58 pages and was on the road to becoming an even more important technical information resource.

Dick Hubert who became involved early in 1978 volunteered to help with production of the newsletter.  He did all of the production of the magazine, such as putting labels on them and preparing them for mailing from his living room and with the help of his family.  Between Val staying up all night to print the labels for the magazines and his home production, Dick managed to get the copies of the magazine to the post office in time – even in spite of the number of newsletters reaching almost 4,000 members.

This production work generally occurred on the weekend beginning Friday evening with the mailing taking place on Monday.  But this was all a tough chore which was done each month and as Dick said, “At this point, we figured it was time for some changes.”

 

The Programmers

Early on in 1978 and 1979, there were several people involved with the group who produced many of the software packages which were made available to the members.  Much of this software was facilitated by the relationship of Synergistic Software and A.P.P.L.E..  Bob Clardy, president of Synergistic Software, took on the A.P.P.L.E. treasurer duties at one of the early meetings, making it clear that he would do it because no one else wanted to take on the responsibility.

However, his move would be the one thing which made the group get its books in order and also allowed the group to grow and get out of Val’s basement.  It was also Bob’s influence which led to the hiring of Fred Merchant to handle the finances of the company on a permanent basis.

Upon turning over the responsibilities of the treasury over to Fred, Bob went back to his focus on the software side of things.  He started Synergistic Software and promptly hired Darryll and Ron Aldrich as well as Neil Konzen to write software for the Apple II.  Much of the software written by the three young programmers eventually became the primary packages used by thousands of members.

Others involved in the creation of the software for A.P.P.L.E. were Bob Huelsdonk and Don Williams. Bob wrote the very first word processor for the Apple II computer.  Don was primarily a machine language programmer who wrote software for one of the earliest expansion memory cards available.

 

The A.P.P.L.E. Hotline

The A.P.P.L.E. Hotline was always a good source for help when the members were challenged with their computing needs.  Although this was run in Val’s basement, the fact that he answered the phone directly meant that the members were benefiting from all of Val’s experience with the Apple II, as well as any information he could scrape out of the hands of Apple Computer Inc.

On the formation of the hotline, Val said, “After the club was formed I gave out my phone number as the hot line number and many times I’d answer it in the middle of the night (from the east coast, etc.). The calls I got most often were from somebody who had inadvertently or otherwise, deleted their program (Integer or Applesoft, either one) and I’d talk them through manually resetting their program pointers to recover the program.  Even Todd Rungren, still an active rock star, used to call frequently.” [3]

 

Changing of the Guard

By the time Val turned over the editorial duties to Kathryn Hallgrimson Suther in mid 1984, the group had grown to an incredible 25,000 members.  With this number of people came an incredible number of problems as well.  No longer was the group able to maintain the small cozy feeling of the early meetings. [4] [5]

Many of the meetings which were taking place became too much for Val to handle and he took the step of leaving to see what else he could do in life.  Thus, he left the group which he founded and turned over the reigns to another early member, Don Williams.

With the departure of Val came a real change in the scene within the company and many of the associated problems which are normally associated with such companies.  The success of the group had been noticed.

 

Stormy Seas

In 1985, a taxation dispute with the state of Washington brought about a change in status of the group from a non-profit organization to a standard company.  The name was changed from Apple Pugetsound Program Library Exchange to A.P.P.L.E. Co-Op  as the state revoked the non-profit status of the group.

1985 also brought other changes which many considered as positive.  The Co-Op introduced a Macintosh version of the magazine, and along with that introduction came the expansion of the group’s interests into the PC world as well as the Amiga.  However, the expansion did not last very long and the Macintosh version of the magazine became Macintosh Horizons and eventually died along with the Apple II magazine.

In 1987, A.P.P.L.E. celebrated its 10 year anniversary with a 16-page extravaganza in the magazine featuring interviews with many early members of the group.  Dick Hubert, who was the Executive President of the Co-Op at the time, mentioned the expansion and a focus of trying to get better speakers for the group. [1]

Two years later, the decision was made to change the magazine’s publication to quarterly.  The combination of this and the decision by Apple Computer, Inc. to discontinue selling the Apple IIe and IIGS made interest in the group wane severely. Additionally, one board member made it his personal objective to essentially kill the group in order to acquire its assets.  This eventually did happen. [7]

 

The End of an Era?

The August 1989 issue of the Call-A.P.P.L.E. magazine became the Autumn Issue.  It was to be the final issue of 1989 with only one further issue coming in late 1990.  The date on the cover of the final issue is Winter 1990.  In the issue, Val wrote a special note about the ending.

With the ending of the magazine came the end to a time in which the world of computing had changed from that of the hobbyists and the engineers being the only one interested in and using computers to that of a computer being in almost every home in America.  Although this trend would continue in the 1990’s with the PC revolution taking over where the Apple revolution left off, the spirit of the early years would never return.  Or would it…

 

The New Generation?

The remaining members of the group formed what would be the Tech Alliance Co-op and continued publishing a newsletter and distributing software and information to about 6,000 members.   This information exchange was oriented around several special interest groups, guided by Richard Hubert and a number of others who supported the group.

The Bulletin Board System, which served as the group’s main form of communication, continued until 1997 under Norman Dodge with some of the SIG meetings continuing until 2001.

 

The Rebirth

In 2002, Bill Martens made contact with Norman Dodge and began creating what is now the A.P.P.L.E. Users Group in coordination with Val Golding and Rick Sutcliffe, with initial materials supplied primarily by Michael Thyng, Norman Dodge, Val Golding, and from Bill’s own collection which had been built over previous decades.

 

Bibliography

[1] A.P.P.L.E. Co-op Celebrates a Decade of Service, Call-A.P.P.L.E. Magazine, February 1988, pp12-27

[2] [3] The Naming of A.P.P.L.E., Val Golding, Email, 13 Feb. 2002

[4] The Editor Bytes Back, Call A.P.P.L.E. Magazine, May 1984, pp 2

[5] Messages, Val Golding, Email, 7 February 2002

[6] My time at A.P.P.L.E., Bill Martens, 1995, pp3

[7] A conversation with Don Williams, February 2002

 

Copyright © 1978-2018 Apple Pugetsound Program Library Exchange (A.P.P.L.E.).  All Rights Reserved.

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