NAUG's AppleWorks Forum

July 4th, 2011 10:58 PM
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I recently came into temporary possession of a complete collection of the AppleWorks Forum, a monthly publication of the National AppleWorks Users Group (NAUG). As the only Apple II periodical I've ever subscribed to during its lifetime has been Juiced.GS, to suddenly have in my hands thousands of pages of retrocomputing resources was eye-opening.

NAUG's newsletter was published every month for ten years, 1986–1995. Each issue covered everything about AppleWorks, from how to create templates for business and greeting cards to how to write macros. It was only a year after this wealth of information stopped publishing that Juiced.GS launched, putting out 20 pages per quarter. I'm humbled to know that there were those who produced that many articles three times more often. Juiced.GS may have lasted longer — but in NAUG's ten years of publishing, they produced ten times more issues than Juiced.GS has in sixteen.

Pawing through the tenth and final volume, I saw such legendary bylines as Randy Brandt and Mark Munz, as well as several other familiar names. I wonder what had become of these authors. I'm tempted to run a Google or LinkedIn search on their names and reach out to them and see if they're aware of the longevity of their work and the Apple II community at large. Similarly, an index of vendors provided now-defunct GEnie email addresses but also phone numbers; what would a reverse lookup reveal about who has those numbers now?

I handed the volume to Andy Molloy, who maintains a Web page on the emulator II in a Mac. That page states of the developer, "The company also released a product called II-in-a-PC that allowed Apple II software to run on a PC. I haven't been able to locate any info on this product." Understandably, Andy was quite excited to find an AppleWorks Forum cover story on this rare piece of software, complete with screenshots.

Fortunately, such resources are not limited to the binders I was given. Mike Maginnis, with the permission of the original NAUG head honchos, has scanned the AppleWorks Forum and made the collection available as a free download. Reading PDFs may not create the same sense of awe that a stack of magazines might incite, but the information contained therein is identical and no less valuable.

Mike's collection is currently incomplete. I suspect that will not be the case for long.

Revisiting Nibble

August 23rd, 2010 1:09 PM
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At KansasFest 2010, Stavros was kind enough to make several issues of Nibble magazine available to any attendees who would give them a good home. Despite Nibble's founding editor having been the KansasFest 2007 keynote speaker, I'd never actually read the magazine myself. I'd been an Apple II user since the early Eighties, but did not join the community in earnest until 1992. With Nibble having published 1981–1995, my opportunities to enjoy the platform's heyday of offline support were few.

Nibble magazine I picked up the twenty-year-old Vol. 11, No. 6 (June 1990) and found the 96-page, full-color issue an absolute delight to read. It was like being transported back in time to when enjoying the Apple II put you in the majority, not the minority. In 1990 in particular, the possibilities seemed limitless, despite the writing being on the wall, as evidenced by Mike Harvey's editorial in which he pounds the pulpit for Apple Computer Inc. to pay more attention to the platform that made them famous. It was a melancholy experience to read that article, knowing how that story would end.

This issue included a 168-line Applesoft BASIC program called Whodunit, a murder-mystery game by Constance Fairbanks. Program listings for users to input were something I remembered well from academic textbooks and even Mad Magazine. I wonder how many budding programmers learned their craft by familiaring themselves with these commands en route to seeing the final product — or did they just enter the lines by rote, with no comprehension of their function, as my class was taught to do in school? Fortunately, Nibble appears to have encouraged the former, as the listing is prefaced by a section subtitled "How the program works", which breaks down the program's routines.

Due to its breadth, depth, and budget, a single issue of Nibble probably contains more content than I could ever hope to fit into a full year of Juiced.GS. Although humbled, I am also inspired by the giants upon whose shoulders today's Apple II print publication stands. I will likely revisit this issue and this publication for more ideas of articles and blog posts.

Oh, and the issue's original owner? According to its mailing label, that would be one Jim Maricondo. The all-star connections never end at KansasFest.