History

Val 1c2

Profile 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.

I left A.P.P.L.E. in 1984. I was disappointed with management which by then had become a corporation with silly rules and useless meetings, etc. I had the opportunity to found a new magazine for kids called “The Apple’s Apprentice,” and so I moved to San Diego to do that but it was never a great success. Then I became editor of an Apple /// magazine out of Ventura, so I moved to the Valley and commuted between there and Ventura, working mostly at home. The Apple /// was a fantastic machine and preceded the PC with many functions such as drag and drop  between applications, etc. I researched Apple /// BASIC in much the same way I had Applesoft, which was actually its underlying engine. The /// BASIC was mostly written by Randy Wigginton who imparted many of its secrets to me.

Their lead programmer left them to work for Apple and the magazine teetered on the brink of extinction. I got a phone call with an offer of a job with Softdisk, an Apple Magazine on disk and so packed my bags again and off to Shreveport, LA for a year. Got into several disputes with the owners (mostly my own fault) and back to Seattle. Kathryn Hallgrimson, who had been assistant editor of Call-A.P.P.L.E. became editor when I left. She and I were very close and when it was determined that Call-A.P.P.L.E. was going to go down the tubes, she called me and asked if I would write for the last issue, which I did.

 

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 Computer land 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 you had to have a RF Modulator. 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 says:

“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.” [2]

 

The A.P.P.L.E. Hot-line

The A.P.P.L.E. Hot-line was always a good source for help when the members got stuck with their computing.  Although this was run in the basement of Val, the fact that he answered the phone directly meant that the members were getting all of Val’s experience on the Apple as well as any information he could scrape out of the hands of the Apple Computer Inc. people.

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 (like 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]

 

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

In January, during his usual trip to the Computerland store, he 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 showed up 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 had gotten involved early on 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 at that time.

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 who got involved with the group who produced many of the software packages which were made available to the members of the group.  Much of this software was facilitated by the relationship of Synergistic Software and A.P.P.L.E..  Bob Clardy, took on the treasurer duties at one of the early meetings and made it clear that he would do it due to the fact that no one else wanted to take it on.

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 his 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.  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 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 from the group 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 Puget Sound 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 the introduction of the new magazine 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.

 

More Changes

In 1987, A.P.P.L.E. celebrated its 10 year anniversary with a 16-page extravaganza  in the magazine with interviews of many of the 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]

However, in 1988, the legal issues once again flared its ugly head and this time it was from Apple Computer, Inc.  Apparently, Apple didn’t like the usage of the acronym for the group and forced the company to change its name.  The new name of the company was Tech Alliance, however, Apple allowed the name of the magazine to remain as is.

This final name change probably had the effect of dealing the death blow to the magazine as it was only a year later that the decision was made to change the magazine to a quarterly.  The combination of this as well as the decision by Apple Computer, Inc. to discontinue selling the Apple IIe and IIGS made the interest in the group wane severely.  There was also one particular board member who at the time had 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

Thus, 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…

 

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

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