The transition of the computing industry from the large scale mainframe to the hobbyist to the personal computer brought with it a large amount of information to be shared and disseminated to the populace. It was during this transition in which the hobbyist magazine industry grew up and in which great turmoil existed due to the human condition.
Prominent within the pages of the magazines of the era were the detailed thorough explanations of both the hardware and their associated programs. The publishers of these magazines expected a certain level of intelligence and thought on the part of the reader as well as a bit of the same hobbyist attitude. Some of these magazines included Byte Magazine, Kilobaud, 6502 Micro, Creative Computing, among others.
While the histories of the particular magazines were not necessarily something that really needed to be included at the time, it is the passage of time which requires some of these magazines be revisited not just in an informational or transformational perspective but a look at how they got started and the audiences which keenly gleaned their pages for the tidbits of computing history.
One magazine which has a history that is one of intrigue was Kilobaud. Not only did the magazine have a rough look to it, but it physically listed all of the table of contents right on the cover of the magazine. Another aspect which produced tons of palace intrigue, rumors and musings was the man running the company. Wayne green has been considered to be both a visionary and a loon. He was extreme intelligent but has been accused by some within his beloved Ham Radio world of being a con man.
It goes without saying though that it is his influence had wide-reaching effects within the industry. Even the early issues of our own Call-A.P.P.L.E. magazine were also influenced by the look and feel of Kilobaud magazine, as Val Golding was cut of the same hobbyist cloth with his love for his Apple-1 computer and eventually his Apple II.
As one peruses the pages of the old musty issues, one must look particularly at why Kilobaud magazine came to exist. This is where the human condition comes into play. Were it not for, what from an outsiders perspective gives, nothing more than lovers quarrels or spats, the magazine might never have needed to be created. However, it may not have only been that. Cunning and purposeful thievery may also have been at play. Or the thievery may have just been a calculated business decision. We will never really know the answer to this but for now, we can look at the details that we do know.
In November 1975, Virginia Londner Green pulled the fledgling Byte magazine from under the grasp of Wayne Sanger Green II, the listed publisher of the then months old magazine. Not only did she take the magazine, but Virginia also took the entire staff and published the magazine with herself as the publisher. Until that time, Wayne Green had produced a total of four issues of the magazine, entirely in his own office. Byte magazine at that time, still very much had a hobbyist feel to it as the real computing revolution had not really started yet. It did not help things that when Byte was started, Wayne and Virginia had already been long divorced but had continued working on projects together.
Of course, it was Wayne Green along with Virginia Londner Green who convinced the real third party in this story to join them as the Editor of Byte magazine. Carl Helmers was not only computer smart but had started programming in multiple programming languages in High School as well as in University in Rochester. Familiar with Fortran and Cobol on several platforms, he had done programming contracts for Xerox and DP Labs, NASA, among others. While Helmers was computer smart, it has been said that he was a bit naive as a business man and only along for the ride. He is also the person who introduced Robert Tinney as the cover artist for Byte magazine.
While a cold parting like this would be the last time many people would talk, this was not the only tiff Virginia and Wayne had nor would it be the last. Virginia Green was the ex-wife of the publisher and she had been there at the beginning when they started ’73 magazine together. Obviously she decided that she did not like the direction things were going with Byte magazine and that she could do a better job at being the publisher of a major computer magazine. When she left with the entire Byte staff, she took the entire January 1976 issue with her and proceeded to publish it under her own name. Shortly there after (issue 6), she is listed as Virginia Peschke with her second husband Manfred Peschke listed as the General Manager as well as the co-publisher of Byte.
Viriginia’s “takeover and removal” of Byte magazine not only infuriated Wayne Green but set him on a mission to create a new magazine. In spite of the image which has been produced by this “takeover” over the years has had several conotations attached to it. However, it may be related to the fact that the Green Publishing company was in Virginia’s name due to the tax issues Wayne had just a year or so prior.
Carl Helmers, the Byte editor went with Virginia and the rest of the staff. Not much is known about the exact reasons for the flight in the night by Byte and Carl does not really talk about it in any of his public interviews. However, ownership of the newly minted Byte Publications, the listed publisher of Byte, was none other than Virginia Green (Peschke) and Carl T. Helmers. (Byte magazine December 1977 Page 3) The end result was Virginia and Carl had hold of the January 1976 issue and Wayne was left out in the cold.
Wayne set out to set up the establishment that would produce the new magazine, which he had decided was to be titled “KiloByte” in a move planned to, essentially, one-up Byte magazine. He ran a two page “All about Kilobyte” article in the December 1976 issue of ’73 magazine. However, Wayne’s plans were soon thwarted by the staff of Byte when they caught wind of this naming. The push back from Virginia and Byte came in the form of combination lawsuit and a cartoon in Byte with the title KiloByte. During the run up to publication of the new magazine, Byte had gone and trademarked the word “KiloByte”.
Since he was under threat of legal action, Wayne Green decided he would not use the KiloByte moniker, instead settling for KiloBaud which was spelled out in a final Consent Decree.
Of course, the full magazine title was “KiloBaud: The Computer Hobbyist Magazine.” While this temporarily solved the legal issues with his previous magazine and ex-wife, it would not be the end of the battles between the two.
The interesting aspect of the lawsuit on the KiloByte name is that the lawyer in this case was none other than the third husband of Virginia Green, one each Gordon Williamson. While not necessarily too significant at the time, it would be extremely significant in 1988 when Wayne Green ran as the republican party candidate for Vice President of the United States.
While Virginia Green could deny Wayne his real claim to fame, she was unable to deny him the success that Kilobaud would bring him. What she may have not predicted was the fact that Wayne was a well seasoned publisher with his work on their joint Ham Radio Operators magazine ’73 as well as his work with CQ Magazine. Wayne published Kilobaud for seven full years with the December 1983 issue being the last KiloBaud monikered magazine. Of course by this time, the magazine had been featuring the name Microcomputing with Kilobaud taking a minor pre-title role at about 1/10th the size of the word Microcomputing. Then, in January 1984, the magazine had one final name change where the magazine was published with Microcomputing Magazine being the new chosen name. No February issue was published but this would not be the end of Wayne Green in the publishing realm.
He went on to start InCider, a wildly popular Apple II magazine in the mid 1980’s which was eventually merged with A+ magazine, 80-Micro, a TRS-80 computing-targeted magazine, Hot CoCo for the TRS-80 Color Computer users, and then the popular RUN magazine, a BASIC program listing resource magazine for the commodore based machines.
Virginia Green would eventually sell Byte magazine to McGraw Hill Publishing in 1979. In combination with the long time editor Carl Helmers, the sale to McGraw Hill was for an undisclosed cash settlement, yet they reportedly netted little more than two million USD. In spite of the sale of the company, Virginia would at Byte magazine until 1983.
The tit-for-tat type back and forth between the Greens would continue on into the 1980’s when in 1985, Virginia Green filed another lawsuit against Wayne Green for libel. This time, the case would drag on for more than two years. Finally, the case was settled in 1987 for a “substantial sum of money”.
Then just a short time later, Wayne Green would run for Vice President of the United States. This induced the very opinionated husband of Virginia Green, Gordon Williamson, to pen a book entitled “SEE WAYNE RUN. RUN, WAYNE, RUN. AN ASSESSMENT OF A CANDIDACY” which was intended to be a tell all book with the purpose to not only tarnish Wayne Green’s reputation but to stop his candidacy. The 77 page book took bits and snippets from many years of Wayne Greens publishing as well as his past legal issues and attempted to paint his as an insane man with extremely low morals. Williamson not only used these materials but also the 1974 tax case in which Wayne Green was accused and convicted of tax fraud. The end result of the 1974 tax case then was that Green received a suspended sentence.
Williamson, a lawyer himself, may have seen himself as a saviour of the Republican party but it is doubtful that the book really did much damage to Wayne Green himself. This could be in part due to the seemingly petty, childish manner in which the book was presented, utilizing photos of Wayne dressed as Santa Claus. It was also self published and obviously had a major bias attached to it with Williamson being long married to Virginia Green by that point as well as his being a executive member of the Byte magazine staff. It could also be that Virginia put Gordon up to writing the book since as he says in his book, “I am confident of my research and the facts I present.” Williamson also claims that his wife Virginia was against the book for fear of “stirring Green up”.
One other thing which may have limited the effect of the book is that there were those even within the readership of his magazines who thought Wayne Green might be loosing his proverbial “marbles” as his editorials at times bordered on conspiracy theory tabloid fodder.
The entire episode between Virginia Londner Green and Wayne Green appears to be little more than a spiteful ex-spouse type spat. In spite of Virginia being on her third husband by this point, she seemingly kept taking aim at her first and although, ordinarily, it is not advisable take sides in this sort of spat, however, it seems as though the rules of business chose the winner. According to news reports from 1983, Wayne Green came out with the better position monetarily when he sold Wayne Green Inc. to CW Communications Inc, the predecessor to IDG, the multinational computing information conglomerate, for a reported total of $60 Million USD (Infoworld V5 N24 Page 1) in 1983. Although this amount has been disputed in Ham Radio forums which some people claiming he was paid next to nothing, CWCI’s own press release of the sale listed the value at the $60 Million dollar mark, which may have helped to spur the 1985 lawsuit by Virginia. Also, the people claiming he made next to nothing seem to have a bias towards anything Wayne Green did in his life. They also claim that the articles saying he sold his company for $60 million are fabrications of Wayne himself.
In the end, Kilobaud magazine went the way many magazines of the era, dying a slow death, and riding the downward spiral along with it, a good portion of the hobbyist community. But then so did Byte magazine as well as several dozen magazines with the advent of the Internet
Byte magazine on the other hand did enjoy a bit longer tenure on the magazine shelves than Kilobaud did, yet even they were not immune to the decline. Byte Magazine tried re-inventing itself under other management along the way but once the mid 90’s were gone, so was Byte as well. In 1998, Byte magazine was sold to CMP Media by McGraw Hill and in spite of a resurgence in interest among both the Byte magazine staff and the readers, only continued to be published until July 1998.
Wayne Green’s original magazine, ’73 Magazine was reacquired by Green in 1986 from CW Communications and he continued publishing it until 2003.
Today, Kilobaud is credited with having published the first ever Apple related article. This article appeared in the February 1977 issue of Kilobaud. It also helped to create the careers of many of the famous technical types who are now legends of the computing industry.
Wayne Sanger Green II passed away 13 September 2013 at the age of 91. (Obituary) Virginia Londner Williamson died in 2015 and Gordon Williamson died on 15 February 2018. (Obituary) Carl T. Helmers and Robert Tinney continue to work on their personal stuff.
The Kilobaud Staff listed in the January 1977 issue (V1N1):
John C. Burnett
Noel R. Self
Robin M. Sloan
Barbara J. Latti
Knud M. Keller
C. Robert Leach
David E. Wilensky
Bill Morel lo
Carol Ann Beverlie
Original Publishing Information:
Kilobaud is published monthly by
1001001, Inc., Peterborough NH 03458. Subscription rates in the U.S. and Canada are $15 for one year and $35 for three years. Outside the U.S. and Canada, add $2 per year. Application to mail at second class postage rate pending at Peterborough NH 03458 and
additional mailing offices. Phone:
603-924-3873. Entire contents copyright 1976 by 1001001, Inc. INCLUDE OLD ADDRESS AND ZIP CODE WITH ADDRESS CHANGE NOTIFICATION.