Overview – User Group, News, Magazines, Books, Apps, 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 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 Cyber Jack: The Adventures of Robert Clardy and Synergistic SoftwareNibble Viewpoints: Business Insights From The Computing RevolutionWhat’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 BrosApplied EngineeringMECC, 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

Apple Pugetsound Program Library Exchange (A.P.P.L.E.) was one of the first official Apple User Groups in the United States.  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 1980s.  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 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.


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 SoftdiskOn-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.  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.

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 yet seen.

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]

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 User 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.

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.

As for the newly-minted user group name A.P.P.L.E., Val 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.” [6]

Call-A.P.P.L.E. Magazine

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.   The initial flyer, produced for the February 21st, 1978 meeting, became Call-A.P.P.L.E. Vol. 1 No. 1, and was designated as such only after the fact, when the second issue came out.

According to Val Golding, “No. 1 in reality 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’ or words to that 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.”

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 magazine copies 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 between 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 A.P.P.L.E. members.

Others involved in the creation of 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 of 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, “A few of us, including Mike Thyng and Bob Huelsdonk bought our computers from Max Cook, a manager at the ComputerLand where I bought my first Apple II, and naturally I was calling him with loads of questions at first, most of which he couldn’t really answer.  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.”

Val continues, “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]

An electronic version of Call-A.P.P.L.E. Magazine first appeared on a public online service in October 1982 when A.P.P.L.E. joined SOURCE as an information vendor. Under the moniker, CALL-APPLE, members could get access to member exclusive information through the service. Non-Members of A.P.P.L.E. who had SOURCE accounts could also access a limited amount of the online information from A.P.P.L.E.. [8]

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 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 within the company and many of the associated problems which are normally associated with such companies.  The success of the group had been noticed.

Apple Programmers and Developers Association (APDA)

In 1985, Apple asked A.P.P.L.E. to create the Apple Programmers and Developers Association (APDA).  Guy Kawasaki and Dan Cochran came out to Renton, Washington to sell the idea of A.P.P.L.E. distributing Apple’s documentation and code for the developers – produced up to A.P.P.L.E. standards.

It was at this time that a decision was made and that APDA was created.  With Don Williams at the helm of the new group, APDA flourished and in 1988, the group was spun off from A.P.P.L.E. and sold back to Apple.

The Co-op Years

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.

The Macintosh was introduced by Steve Jobs in January 1984 to great fanfare leading A.P.P.L.E.’s Lisa and Michael Storrrie-Lombardi to create the Lisa / Macintosh Special Interest Group within A.P.P.L.E..  Lisa and Michael followed up this interest with a newsletter entitled 32 Little Apples “News For the Rest of Us.”  The newsletter began in November 1984 and then in March 1986, became Mac-A.P.P.L.E. magazine with Andrew Himes at the helm.

The expanded interests that came with 32 Little Apples and Mac-A.P.P.L.E. magazine also included the expansion of the group’s interests into the PC world as well as the Commodore Amiga.  During this expansion time, Frank Catalano took over as editor of the fledgling magazine.

However, the expansion ideas and actions didn’t last very long.  Mac-A.P.P.L.E. magazine ran from that time until November 1987, when the name was changed to Mac Horizons.  The magazine, while filling a need in the market, was not widely read and publication eventually ceased in October 1988.

With the demise of Mac-A.P.P.L.E. / Mac Horizons, a decision was made to produce Mac Tech Quarterly instead of the monthly magazine.  This too, however, was short-lived and only five issues of Mac Tech Quarterly were produced prior to the publication ceasing in 1990.

In February 1988, A.P.P.L.E. celebrated its 10th anniversary with a 16-page extravaganza in Call-A.P.P.L.E. 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 Call-A.P.P.L.E. magazine to publish quarterly.  This decision essentially put the magazine on a spiral of non-production and into the historical category.  The combination of this decision, the general decline of computer magazines in the late 1980s,  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 a feeble attempt to acquire its assets.  Eventually the office assets went to auction and the office was closed.  [7]

The End of an Era?

The August 1989 issue of 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 legacy issue is Winter 1990.  In the issue, Val wrote a special note about the ending.

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

The remaining members of the group formed the Tech Alliance Co-op, the moniker under which the group continued to operate, 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 Dick Hubert and a number of others who supported the group.  It was during this time in which the Co-Op Spirit newsletter was published on a monthly basis by various people in 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 including the Apple II and IIGS SIG managed by people like Bill Bredehoft.

The Rebirth

In 2002, Bill Martens made contact with Norman Dodge and began recreating the group, eventually forming what is now the A.P.P.L.E. User Group in coordination with Val Golding and Rick Sutcliffe, with initial materials supplied primarily by Michael Thyng, Norman Dodge, Val Golding, Bill Bredehoft and from Bill’s own collection which was built over the previous two decades.

With Val and Rick’s help, Bill set out to re-start the magazine, successfully producing the first new generation issue in April 2002.  It marked the first time since 1994 that an A.P.P.L.E. publication had been produced.

Acquisition of WAC Inc. and Digital Civilization News

In 2002. Bill Martens purchased the remains of the Salem Oregon based Willamette Apple Connection or WAC, Inc. from Neal Layton.  This material was then incorporated into the A.P.P.L.E. realm of websites and all of the materials digitized and made available to A.P.P.L.E. members.

In 2003, Mike Pfaiffer joined bringing Digital Civilization news with him.  This new material allowed A.P.P.L.E. to include a spattering of UNIX news in addition to the retro Apple news that had already been a large part of the re-invented group.  Mike worked with the group until his passing in 2015, serving for a time as Vice President and then as President of the user group.  He also produced a number of the group’s magazines from 2004 to 2007.

The Golden Grail

In 2003, Bill Martens and Jim Maricondo began looking at the possibility of bringing back The Golden Orchard CD-ROM which was a big seller in the 1990s for Apple IIGS users. Jim and Bill worked on the project for over two years, finally making the entire collection available again and re-formatted for current-day emulation.

Their next project was the initial digitization of what became the Woz Speaks DVD.  This project began with a loan of an original tape of Steve Wozniak speaking to the A.P.P.L.E. User Group at the monthly meeting in October 1981.  The project lasted several months, and with the resulting DVD, the product returned to the A.P.P.L.E. catalog.

The New Breed

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.  Brian is 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.

In 2013, Brian and Bill Martens produced The WOZPAK: Special Edition as A.P.P.L.E.’s first contemporary book.  The book took over eight months to produce, starting with a meeting between Bill and Steve Wozniak in Tokyo, culminating with Brian and Steve, along with Randy Wigginton introducing the book to the crowds at KansasFest 2013.


Since then, Brian continues to design, edit and co-produce all books published by A.P.P.L.E., encompassing several a year.  Brian and Bill go to great lengths for quality, detail, new features, fresh design, and work with a variety of noteworthy authors.  Between 2013 and 2017 they published 11 books encompassing:

•    The Apple II Monitor Peeled
    Call-A.P.P.L.E. Magazine 1978 Compendium
     Call-A.P.P.L.E. Magazine 1979 Compendium
    Colossal Computer Cartoon Book:  Enhanced Edition
    Cyber Jack:  The Adventures of Robert Clardy and Synergistic Software
   GBBS Pro Bulletin Board System: Version 2.2
    Nibble Viewpoints:  Business Insights From The Computing Revolution
   Synergistic Software:  The Early Games
    Turtlesoft:  Turtle Graphics for Applesoft
    What’s Where in the Apple:  Enhanced Edition
    The WOZPAK Special Edition:  Steve Wozniak’s Apple-1 & Apple II Computers

In 2016, Brian and Bill produced an iOS version of the Apple II game Structris. They collaborated with original Apple II programmer Martin Haye, iOS programmer Olivier Goguel, and neo-classical composer Tomoki Takamori.

Brian Wiser and Bill Martens continue to publish additional materials related to Apple computers, including managing all of the A.P.P.L.E. websites, creating and editing Call-A.P.P.L.E. magazine, as well as managing all of the aspects of the A.P.P.L.E. User Group.


[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

[8] A.P.P.L.E. Source Info, Call-A.P.P.L.E. Magazine, October 1982, pp77

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