The Appleworks of Harvard, Mass.

September 16th, 2019 11:27 AM
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I've lived my entire life in Massachusetts, having often driven or cycled the roads between Boston and my hometown to visit family. One particular path to my cousin's house has always brought a smile to this Apple II user's face.

AppleWorks is many things: it's a word processor; it's an environment in which I spent twenty years building my portfolio and honing my craft; it's a legendary Apple product that Quality Computers got the rights to upgrade; it's a program from a company with a complicated history; it's compiled from source code we'll almost certainly never see.

But in the small town of Harvard, Mass., it's also a company.

Appleworks post sign

Bold move, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off.

I've driven by this sign many times — you can see it from the road on Google Maps.

For decades, I've wondered how this company has retained its name, especially given how boldly it hangs its shingle. Apple is infamously litigatious, and any company that overlaps with the computer manufacturer's industry would be susceptible to a threat to change its name, which Steve Jobs would consider no big deal.

Has the AppleWorks business held the name since before the Apple II existed? Was it a publishing company or computer repair service? If not, why would the owners name it Appleworks? Were they taking inspiration from being two towns over from Johnny Appleseed's hometown?

After years of wondering these questions, it wasn't until I sat down to write this blog post last night that I finally got the answer: Appleworks isn't a business; it's a place. It's the name of the strip mall that houses the Siam Pepper Thai Cuisine restaurant whose website gave me the clue I needed, listing its address as "Appleworks Building, Harvard, MA".

At first, this revelation felt anti-climactic — but now I'm free to drive by this building, smile, and rest easy that it's an unlikely target for Apple legal.

Demoparty at the @party

May 17th, 2010 12:47 PM
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Filed under Happenings, Software showcase;
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So there's a party coming to town — a demoparty. These gatherings of hackers and crackers date back more than three decades, when they were closely tied to the pirate community. Today, demoparties seem more artistically oriented as opportunities for programmers to show off self-running demonstrations of the graphical and audio capabilities of a computer, often a retrocomputer. Though entries must be registered ahead of time, their creators need not be present, creating a global competition with personalized starting points and a common deadline.

I've never attended a demoparty but must've become aware of them as a result of following digital archivist and demoparty coordinator Jason Scott on Twitter. Several Apple II users I spoke with were unfamiliar with demoparties, but they should be familiar with its content, as the IIGS has hosted many fantastic demos of its own — most notably those of the Free Tools Association, or FTA. Modulae, Bulla, DELTA, and others showed off that which "can't be done on an Apple II".

Given this opportunity to experience an aspect of history I've previously missed, I've registered for @party. The event will be held June 18–20 in Harvard, Mass., at a retreat center run by a friend of mine (who to this day maintains the facility's Web site with Claris Home Page v1.0. Talk about retro! The last version of this WYSIWYG HTML editor, v3.0, was released in 1998). The event's coordinator, Valerie Grimm, confirmed that there will be an appropriate opportunity for me to hand out Juiced.GS sample issues and KansasFest flyers to @party attendees. That's hardly the only reason I'm going — I'll take community over commerciality anyday — but it's good to know that, even if I don't benefit from my own attendance, someone else will.

There are no guarantees there will be any Apple II computers present, but if there are, it could make for a short article for Juiced.GS. In lieu of that, my interest in retrogaming (as documented by my video game blog) should keep me entertained. As an example, the country's longest-running demoparty, Blockparty, was held last month and produced its first-ever Colecovision demo, "Waterline":

See you at the party!