Dave Ahl and Betsy Ahl

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This is a transcript of an audio interview. This transcript may contain errors - if you're using this material for research, etc. please verify with the original recorded interview.

Source: ANTIC: The Atari 8-Bit Podcast

Source URL: http://ataripodcast.libsyn.com/antic-interview-280-david-and-betsy-ahl-creative-computing-magazine

Interviewer: Kevin Savetz

Date: 3/4 April 2013

 Kevin:            I'm interested in how you guys got together. Was it some sort of
                   office romance? [laughs]
 Betsy:            It started before then. I was working at Drew University and I was
                   dating the computer science professor. He invited Dave...he was a
                   subscriber to Creative Computing. I can remember being at his house
                   and picking up a copy of this magazine and thinking, "Creative
                   Computing," and laughing. "What kind of a title is that?"
                   He invited Dave to come speak to one of his classes. While he was
                   there, he said, "I should stop by your placement office. We're
                   starting to expand. I'm looking for some people." Right? Am I
                   getting this right? I was looking for other opportunities, so I
                   sent him my resume. Many months later, he hired me.
 David:            She still smarts about that.
 David:            I interviewed her in, I don't know, April or so.
 Betsy:            You interviewed me on April 17th and you did not hire me until
                   August 1st. [laughs]
 David:            A lot was going on that year. That was '78.
 Betsy:            It was a really long time after that that we got married. We didn't
                   get married until 10 years later.
 David:            Actually, I had hired Betsy as our business manager. That's what I
                   really needed.
 Kevin:            Not a wife, then.
 Betsy:            Not wife then, either.
 David:            Not at that point. We had 2 buildings.
 Betsy:            We had one.
 David:            Oh, well I was looking for...
 Betsy:            My first job was to find another building.
 David:            We were expanding like crazy. In fact, one of the reasons that I
                   didn't hire her sooner, I had just left my day job at AT&T, and was
                   facing up to, "Oh my gosh, can I afford to take a salary out of
                   Creative Computing?" Yes, we had expanded a lot, but can I even pay
                   myself, much less other senior people? I left AT&T in July, and
                   finally by August it became clear I really have to get this
                   administration end of things under control.
                   The editorial was OK. I had enough outside contributors that were
                   going along with what we were doing in-house that I could continue
                   with that, but it was the other end of things where we really had
                   some problems. So then we go to 2 separate facilities. One was a 2
                   family house on the other side of Morristown, and the other was a
                   converted greenhouse garage, which is where I started. So, Betsy
                   was in the greenhouse garage where I had the administration side of
                   things, and I was at the house and that was the editorial and art
 Betsy:            Software.
 David:            ...putting the magazine together. Software, right. So she would
                   come over from her place to my office every day or two just to let
                   me know what's going on, and we'd get together. But it wasn't until
                   I don't' remember the date when Betsy was saying, "Well, I'd like
                   to get into..."
 Betsy:            Well I had spent all my summers in college and two thereafter
                   working at our local newspaper, writing editing and putting the
                   whole thing together, so I think I more or less just said, "We've
                   got all these new product announcements that we don't have anybody
                   to do, why don't I just do them?" So, I started out doing the press
                   releases and things.
 David:            Her newspaper experience was first in high school covering sports.
 Betsy:            Yeah, I started out covering the unpopular sports as a senior in
                   high school. Because they didn't want a girl to write about the
                   important sports. So they let the girl write about the unimportant
                   sports, which turned out to be the winning sports, at this small
                   New Jersey high school. That's how I started.
 David:            And then at the newspaper, you started by writing obituaries,
 Betsy:            Well, it's one of the things I did. I always wanted to be a Spanish
                   teacher. I didn't know anything about this. So, I got this sports-
                   writing job by way of a babysitting job, I babysat for the
                   publisher's kids and on the way home one night he said to me, "We
                   always have a boy from the school who writes about the sports for
                   the paper, do you know anybody?" and I said, "Well, I know the guy
                   who did it last year, and if he could do it, I could do it."
                   So I did that and didn't' think much more of it. Went off to
                   college, came back over spring break, and ran into the guy in the
                   grocery store and he said, "Would you like a job working for the
                   paper this summer?" And I said sure. I had no idea whether he
                   wanted me to sweep the floors or what, but it was a job so I took
                   it. It was in the editorial department.
                   And I learned from some very serious journalists who had worked for
                   a very good paper, the Newark Evening News, which was a very
                   serious paper that probably was too serious and folded, probably in
                   the mid '60s, but these people were really good journalists and
                   they taught me a lot.
                   I think it was that first year, about halfway through the summer
                   the publisher was on vacation, the editor was going to go on
                   vacation when the publisher came back and the publisher, the day he
                   was supposed to come back had appendicitis, had to have an
                   appendectomy which back in those days was a much bigger deal than
                   it is now. The editor said, "Well, I'm leaving." [laughs] And there
                   I was. I was running this little paper.
 David:            So I figured if you can run a newspaper, even though it's just a
                   summer job, she could do a lot for us. Well, Betsy continued to
                   handle the administrative things for really quite awhile and, as
                   she said, probably was initially doing new product releases. Cause
                   you get just tons of it over the transom and from these smaller
 Kevin:            So you'd like get a press release and then you'd rewrite it, that
                   sort of things?
 Betsy:            Well we had a new product section and it was a format, a style for
                   them, for each one. If they sent a photo, do a photo, a cut line
                   for it. Basically what I do is let them pile up and then sort
                   through and figure out which ones were worthy of attention. And
                   then it was kind of just filler. They ran in one column and when
                   you came to the end of the magazine whatever you had leftover you
                   would fill in with these.
 David:            And the thing is that the companies that were putting out these
                   press releases, this was back in the, what '76, '77 or so, tiny
                   little companies. They had no marketing expertise so they were
                   sending us, in some cases, not quite handwritten but pretty crude.
                   So it took some editing and some real work to make them readable.
                   And then, as Betsy said, you had to guess. OK, which one, this is a
                   significant product but is this guy going to be able to make this
                   company go or is it just going to flop? And we tried to be
                   responsible to the readers. Reporting on things that weren't just a
                   wonderful great new idea but something that they were going to have
                   on the market that was going to get some support and everything
                   else. So anyway. That was a long story of how we got together.
 Kevin:            I still don't know how you got together.
 Betsy:            We were working in an office about as large as this banquette here
                   together. Because when we first started working together we didn't
                   have this other house. So it was the two of us. You had an actual
                   desk I believe. I had a table that he had made out of particle
                   board. Yeah it was fancy and I had to put duct tape along it
                   because the edge was making holes in my clothes.
                   So we worked in this office back to back, sort of got to know each
                   other, and became friends, little by little. He said to me, when
                   you're looking for this building, it would be a good thing if there
                   was a place for me to live because I'm in the process of getting
                   separated from my wife. Which it turned out you didn't do right
                   away but eventually you did. Right?
 David:            Well, it was three months later. That was right away in a sense.
                   What precipitated that was we had a woman that was working in the
                   mailroom and she got in cahoots with somebody in the accounting
                   department and they started working a little embezzlement.
 Kevin:            Was this at D.E.C. or at...
 David:            Pardon?
 Kevin:            at DEC or...
 Betsy:            At Creative Computing.
 David:            No, at Creative Computing. This was just after Betsy was hired. In
                   fact, they had it going on before and I mean they were very good at
                   it. What they did is they set up a bank account in the name of
                   Creative Computing in the next county. And they would take very
                   fourth or fifth check and it might be a subscription, it might be
                   paying for an ad or something...
 Betsy:            It was mostly the advertisers.
 David:            Well it was both. And then they put that into their bank account.
                   And then the one that was in the accounting department would mark
                   the thing as paid.
 Betsy:            No, she didn't. That was her mistake.
 David:            Well, she didn't.
 Betsy:            Because that wasn't her job.
 David:            Well she blew one. In any event it was my advertising manager that
                   we had sent an overdue notice to one of the advertisers.
 Betsy:            It was Apple.
 David:            Huh?
 Betsy:            It was Apple. It was Regis McKenna, it was Apple's agency.
 David:            And they said, we paid that. And a woman said, well send me proof.
                   And they did. And we looked at the bank where it was deposited and
                   then we called in local detective, police department. And they got
                   the bank records and said, "How much do you think this was?" Well
                   no they didn't say that, they said, this is probably a lot more
                   than you thought.
                   And it turned out to be well over $100,000. And our total annual,
                   not even profit at that point...well, the gross was just about a
                   million at that point, not quite, but close to it. So $100,000 was
                   a big, big chunk 10 percent.
 Kevin:            When was this?
 David:            '78. And, so, obviously we fired these two. And then the court
                   finally, well they determined that they had also, one of them had been
                   involved in welfare fraud and other stuff and the court ordered
                   them to pay it back at the rate of, I don't know...
 Betsy:            47 cents a week.
 David:            It was some tiny amount.
 Kevin:            Still paying you... [laughter and crosstalk]
 Betsy:            Course they'll never pay anything.
 David:            And we got one payment you know, and that was it.
 Betsy:            And she was ordered to do public service. Like who wants someone
                   doing public service for them who's done something like that?
 Kevin:            Magazines back then, probably any business but, they were a hotbed
                   of intrigue. You had that happened and then the whole Bike Magazine
                   getting stolen.
 David:            So Betsy actually, in response to that brought, in response to the
                   embezzlement brought in her Sister-in-Law Bobbi, and I think your
                   mother too...
 Betsy:            It was Bobbi's mother.
 David:            Bobbi's mother, OK. But one to...
 Betsy:            My mother in law. I was a widow at the time.
 David:            ...do some of the accounting because we didn't have an accountant
                   and wanted just to help out and make some calls to advertisers and
                   say can you speed up your payment a little bit and also calls to
                   people that we owed money to, hey we're going to be maybe a little
                   late. It really didn't look good. That was just a huge amount of
                   money and so we had to stretch things out and hope that the growth
                   continued so we could recover some of this.
                   Betsy really rescued us there. It was amazing. We finally did
                   stretch things out. What precipitated the separation with my wife
                   at the time is I went home and told her this had happened and
 Betsy:            It was Thanksgiving weekend. Day before Thanksgiving.
 David:            The day before Thanksgiving is when we got all the information from
                   the police department and I went home to my wife and she said, "You
                   dumb...," well I won't repeat the whole thing but, "You are so
                   stupid. You trust people." "Yes, I trust people." "You shouldn't
                   trust people like that. Get out of the house. I can't put up with
                   this anymore." So it was a good thing we had a two family house.
 Betsy:            We had this two family house.
 David:            I moved into the bedroom on one side.
 Betsy:            He had his office on one side of the top floor in the back bedroom
                   and his bedroom in the back bedroom on the other side and his
                   kitchen. [laughs]
 Kevin:            Is this the place I was reading about where your bedroom was above
                   the kitchen?
 Betsy:            Yes. The Ted Nelson.
 David:            Anyway, a lot of things precipitated. Because of that, we had to
                   make some other changes on personnel and move some people around. I
                   think after that then Betsy took more of a role in the editorial
                   end of things.
 Kevin:            Stayed there until the bitter end.
 Betsy:            The bitter end. Actually, I was there after he was gone.
 David:            That's true.
 Betsy:            Ziff continued to pay me several months after they closed the
                   magazine to stay behind and clean up because we have a 75,000
                   square foot building. Make sure that we don't dispose of the
                   hardware and just basically get it ready.
 Kevin:            When you quit at the phone company to start a magazine, that must
                   have been scary.
 David:            I had left Digital Equipment in 1974, and I'm sure you read the
                   whole rationale behind that, and joined AT&T in marketing,
                   educational marketing. Same thing I was doing at DEC but obviously
                   marketing different products to a different mix of customers. AT&T,
                   back then and perhaps today, they had a real formula that you're in
                   a job for two years and then they rotate you out or they put you in
                   another job.
                   The way AT&T works is they have certain steps. There's a manager
                   and then a director level. There are levels, one, two, three, four,
                   five. The operating companies, like Pacific Bell and so on, have
                   similar steps that are considered a half step below AT&T. What they
                   do is they rotate you out to an operating company, a half step
                   promotion, they rotate you back into AT&T, now you're a full step.
                   You never get a full step in one company.
                   They had offered me a rotation to Southern Bell. Birmingham,
                   Alabama. "No. No." Then probably two or three months later said
                   we've got an opening in Wisconsin Tel. "Oh my gosh. Come on,
                   something sensible." I turned them down, which was bad. You can't
                   turn down. If you turn down three you might as well retire.
                   The third one was, in a sense, it wasn't a promotion but it was a
                   sideways job jump within AT&T itself. I went from having the
                   education group, which was about eight people, to corporate
                   communications, which is about 100 people and a huge budget. I was
                   responsible for all of the marketing communications for the whole
                   Bell system. Not advertising.
                   We had seminar centers, put out all kinds of educational pamphlets,
                   even a magazine for our customers on how to use the equipment. I
                   was doing that. It's a big job. It's a 50 hour a week job. Creative
                   Computing was halfway down the block. I'd go there at lunch time,
                   see how things were doing.
                   As I said a little bit ago, when it looked like we were going to
                   hit a million dollars I said I've got to get serious about this.
                   That's when I resigned from AT&T. That was probably the first, I
                   shouldn't say the first, but that was a major problem with my wife
                   at that time. You're leaving AT&T? You're leaving all those
                   benefits? What are you doing, you idiot? We were on the downward
                   spiral at that point and then the embezzlement just sealed the
                   whole thing.
                   Leaving any job for an unknown thing like you started a little
                   company and you leave your day job. You're making a real
 Kevin:            Even once you were at Creative full time, it looks like you did a
                   lot of everything. You were writing, you were doing programming,
                   you were being the editor, the publisher and the editor which is
                   not done anymore.
 David:            Yeah. I don't know. You can correct me. I don't think I was a
                   control freak.
 Betsy:            No. You had Phil Ellenberg. You had just hired Phil Ellenberg as
                   the advertising manager. Richie was doing it. Where did he come
                   from? He came from some respectable place. He came from some
                   respectable place, Phil Ellenberg.
 David:            Yeah, he did.
 Betsy:            He was like a real person who had a real job, not like the rest of
                   us. He was the ad manager. I think once you made the step to leave
                   AT&T then you mostly concentrated on the editorial. You weren't
                   selling ads and writing and you had Steve North who was doing a lot
                   of the editorial.
 David:            At the beginning, yeah. The thing is I'd be lying if I said I knew
                   how things were going to go, I knew this was going to be a huge
                   magazine some day. I had no clue. When I started Creative Computing
                   there weren't even personal computers at that point. I was
                   convinced, I guess, that they would come about. I had no idea that
                   it would be three months later that the Altair came about. It was
                   more that I thought that an educational magazine like we had been
                   publishing at DEC should continue.
                   DEC had dropped off. They stopped publishing Edu when I left the
                   education group. Well, they published an issue or two but they
                   really weren't serious about continuing it. Then you had all of
                   these people out here in the west coast, the Hewlett Packard
                   computers. They were publishing some good software, they had some
                   good arrangements with Minnesota Educational Computers Consortium
                   and some others to distribute stuff that they developed, but there
                   was no information source for schools and teachers and kids that
                   were using computers.
                   That's what I envisioned initially, but then once the Altair and
                   the others came out people buy this kit computer and say what can I
                   do with it? We've got these programs that will run.
 Betsy:            First you have to steal Basic.
 David:            What?
 Betsy:            First you have to steal Basic.
 David:            Yeah, yeah.
 Kevin:            I noticed that, I don't know what it's called, the public opinion
                   or I don't know the word, this part here. The number one magazine
                   of computer applications.
 David:            That was a Davis thing.
 Kevin:            It started off first issue a non-profit magazine of educational and
                   recreational. That was November 1970. May/June 1975 the words non-
                   profit disappeared.
 Betsy:            He never set it up as a non-profit.
 David:            I did not.
 Kevin:            You started making a profit.
 David:            That's right. [laughs]
                   Betsy; It was the unintentionally non-profit.
 Kevin:            Three years later it quietly changed into the number one magazine
                   of computer applications and software.
 David:            That was when Ziff Davis took over.
 Kevin:            Really? No, that was '78.
 Betsy:            No, that was '78.
 David:            Oh, '78.
 Kevin:            He stayed until the end.
 David:            Right. OK. You're right. Who knows. We changed it.
 Betsy:            It seemed like a good idea at the time.
 Kevin:            It's clearly a shift from education to education plus other things.
 David:            Yes.
 Betsy:            I think it was when he realized that if you really wanted to make a
                   profit you had to leave education behind because teachers want
                   everything for free, or they certainly did then.
 Kevin:            They have some websites for teachers. They still do. [laughs]
 David:            Schools, teachers, yeah, they want everything for free and they get
                   a lot for free. Places like Huntington Computer Project. There was
                   one out here, Oregon. Yes, there was. I think it was based right
                   here in Portland. It would have been, right, if it was in Oregon?
                   Yes, there was a computing consortium at that time, Hewlett Packard
                   Then you had People's Computer Company down in California that was
                   sort of providing stuff to schools. They were mostly into
                   alternative schools and there were a lot of them in the Bay area at
                   that time. In fact, there was a magazine or a newspaper, big thing,
                   I don't know how often it came out, called the "De-school Primer".
                   It was for people that...I won't say they were hippies but
                   basically homeschoolers but they got together and said, "We're
                   going to educate our kids outside of the public education system
                   but we don't want to do it individually. We'll get together." There
                   was a big movement there and they were into computers, unlike the
                   public schools back in '75, '76.
 Betsy:            Homeschooling back then was very avant-garde. It was not approved.
 David:            Not like today. The shift away from education. That, of course, was
                   partially driven by the hardware that was then available to people
                   at home.
                   When I first started the magazine, I had four editors over the
                   years, five I guess, but Steve Gray had been publishing a
                   newsletter, what he called the "Amateur Computer Group Newsletter".
                   It was for engineers who were scavenging up old parts from
                   Honeywell and IBM and GE and DEC and trying to put together a
                   computer. You've got success stories and here's how you can make
                   this worth together.
                   That was a long way away from an Altair, but that's what I was
                   focusing on, people that were doing that and education. Changed our
                   focus. You're right. Good observation.
 Kevin:            After that, do you feel the focus changed in the next 10 years?
 David:            The focus changed largely due to selling the magazine to Ziff
 Kevin:            When's that?
 David:            We were negotiating for a while and I think the sale finally went
                   through in '83. Yeah, '83. Maybe late '82 but roughly then. They
                   felt that you need more of a business focus, small business and
                   people running businesses out of their home. That's where it
                   started but then we got into real small businesses. I shouldn't say
                   real but a store front or a small manufacturer, something like
                   that. That's probably a direction we would not have gone. I
                   wouldn't have gone on my own.
 Betsy:            We had a magazine called "Small Business Computing." Remember?
 David:            That's right, we did. I would have kept Creative more targeted on
                   the home market and still education, to some extent, but more on
                   the home and people that were running a business, a single
                   entrepreneur. You could review a spreadsheet or a small business
                   computer or higher end printer or something but not lift it up to
                   that next level up.
                   When you're owned by somebody else and they say this is what we
                   want to do you've got to be responsive to it.
 Kevin:            Why did you sell? Was it something that had to be done? I've read
                   the official line.
 David:            I think the official line is pretty close to the real line. What
                   happened is the first magazine, maybe not the very first but the
                   first sizable magazine, to sell was the Byte and they sold to
                   McGraw Hill. Then there were three or four other sales. At the time
                   there were maybe eight special interest publishers in the country.
                   You had Hurst and CBS magazine and Ziff Davis. Maybe eight serious
                   ones. There were some others that were, "Oh, it'd be nice if we
                   could get into it."
                   What happened is all of us at that point were spending maybe
                   $100,000, $150,000 on circulation promotion. McGraw Hill says we
                   want to get out there, we're going to spend a million dollars.
                   They're mailing 10 times as much as we are. They're going to trade
                   shows with big, elaborate booths and handing out all kinds of...
 Betsy:            Free magazines.
 David:            Not only free magazines but other stuff. That was half of it. The
                   other half, which was probably more than half, was the advertising
                   sales. We were using reps. We had different reps in different parts
                   of the country, paying the rep commission on the advertising. When
                   you are a McGraw Hill or a Hurst or a Ziff Davis you've got an in-
                   house staff. They would have a reception at one of the computer
                   conferences, a big deal.
 Betsy:            We used to have a hospitality suite at the hotels in some of these
                   conferences and then we would bring little hunks of cheese that we
                   cut up from home and sneak the bottles of wine up the back stairway
                   and they were having these big things with the giant balls of
 David:            Yeah. It was just an order of magnitude different than what we
                   could do. What happened, really, was that it got to the point where
                   there were only three, really two, serious bidders that were still
                   looking for a magazine and there are still about four magazines,
                   four decent quality magazines, on the market and one was Compute,
                   one was Interface Age. Personal Computing had just sold, there was
                   us, and I forget who the fourth one was. There was four.
 Kevin:            There were more magazines than buyers at this point.
 David:            That's right. There were a lot more magazines, too, but there were
                   four major players. One of the buyers, I didn't really regard them
                   as serious, and that was Atari. I think they wanted to back into
                   the thing. The two buyers left were CBS, and they had a magazine
                   division at that time, and Ziff Davis and that was it. I said,
                   "Man, I've got to make a deal here." That's what happened.
                   I look back with hindsight. I said the guy, Robert I forget his
                   last name, that owned Compute magazine, he held out. He held out
                   until the end and he said, "I'm better than Interface Age," and he
                   was and whatever the other one was, Family Computing, "I'm better
                   than them." He got a really nice payoff from CBS because it was the
                   last one and they wanted him. I don't know. If I had held off a
                   little more would I have gotten more? Probably.
 Kevin:            How much did you get?
 David:            Can we publish this figure?
 Betsy:            I don't know. I don't think we ever have.
 David:            No, we never have.
 Kevin:            It's my chance for a scoop.
 David:            Pardon?
 Kevin:            It's my chance for a scoop.
 David:            [laughs] I'd rather not say. I can tell you Compute, if you ever
                   read that number, which you will, it was seven times that much. It
                   was huge. Huge. At that point, I think CBS just said we've got to
                   get into this. We've really got to do something. The big loser was
                   Bob Jones at Interface Age. He had a good magazine. That was a
                   good, solid magazine. Bob Jones, he went to shows, he was always in
                   a suit and tie. He would have fit into the corporate environment
                   very well but he held out too long. I think he was holding out for
                   even more.
                   That's what I was afraid of. Less than a year later he was out of
                   business. There was no way you could compete with these big guys.
                   I mean Ziff instantly started having these receptions at PC expo...
 Betsy:            They had ad reps all over the country.
 David:            Ad reps, yeah. Oh my gosh. So we would not have survived.
 Kevin:            So again, you timed it right.
 David:            Yeah. Not exactly right but yes. Wasn't bad. Wasn't bad.
 Kevin:            But Ziff didn't have it for very long before they let it go. It was
                   only a couple of years.
 David:            It was almost four years. Three and a half years. They did a study,
                   and this is one of the classics. I've been making a presentation at
                   Leslie Park last year on the 10 biggest blunders in personal
                   computing, and actually it's up to 12 now. One was, and I still
                   feel that it was huge, is that Ziff Davis analyzed that market in
                   '85 and determined that the home market, the market for home
                   computers, had reached saturation. Five percent of the homes have a
                   computer. That's it.
                   There were three things, three major conclusions from their survey.
                   I think probably one and a half of them were pretty good and one
                   and a half were just absolutely wrong. The home market reaching
                   saturation, wrong. The second one was that they said that the
                   magazines that would be successful would be those that were focused
                   on specific brands of computers. Are you getting all that?
 Kevin:            Yeah.
 David:            With the IBM PC it really brought standardization to the industry.
                   Their analysis was that Apple and PC were going to be the dominant
                   players in the future and in that they were right. They said we've
                   got to have a magazine that's just focused on those two and they
                   did. What was their Apple magazine? They had two Apple magazines.
 Betsy:            A+.
 David:            But they also had the one for the Mac.
 Betsy:            Mac User.
 David:            They had two Apple magazines and then PC. PC they spun off a whole
                   bunch. PC Week.
 Betsy:            PC Junior.
 David:            A bunch of them. In any event, they were right in that. The other
                   one that they were semi-right, in the long term future they were
                   totally wrong but in the short term future they were probably
                   right, and that they looked at...We had been covering bulletin
                   board systems. CompuServe, whatever its predecessor was, basically
                   online type of stuff.
 Betsy:            Genie.
 David:            Yes. They said that's just a flash in a pan, online stuff. Well, in
                   '85 it was. It took a while. It took another 8 to 10 years for that
                   but then oh my God. You know what's happened today. If they had
                   stuck with Creative Computing and rather than trying to make it a
                   small business focused magazine but kept the home and the online
                   focus we would have owned the Internet market today, absolutely
                   owned it. It would have been a bigger magazine than all the others
                   put together. Hindsight is 20/20.
 Kevin:            I know it wasn't your choice but do you have regret about that?
 David:            Yeah.
 Betsy:            At the time it was devastating.
 David:            Absolutely.
 Betsy:            It was like someone killing your child.
 David:            At the time, we sat in these meetings up in Stanford, Connecticut,
                   of all places. The reason for that is Bill Ziff. What happened in
                   the interim a year or two after they purchased Creative Computing
                   and PC, Bill Ziff came down with cancer really big time and was
                   afraid of dying next year. So he was moving all of his resources
                   and the holdings outside of New York to avoid really major
                   taxation. I'm not sure that Connecticut was much better but he was
                   splitting them between Connecticut and Florida. Anyway, we wound up
                   having a bunch of meetings.
 Betsy:            He was trying to maintain residence in Connecticut.
 David:            Yeah, I guess that was it.
 Betsy:            He was living in the Crown Plaza.
 David:            I remember the last one. We were up at the hotel.
 Betsy:            Crown Plaza. It was Stanford, it wasn't Harvard.
 David:            Yeah, Stanford.
 Betsy:            I said Harvard.
 David:            When they finally came and said we're going to shut this down. That
                   was a devastating time. We probably could have continued to work
                   for Ziff if we had been willing to go into New York but when you
                   get used to working a mile or two from where you live the idea of
                   commuting into New York, who knows what the job would have been.
                   Bye. That was it. That was, in retrospect, a mistake.
                   The other thing that happened as a result of Bill Ziff having this
                   bout with cancer is that Ziff Davis sold off all of their other
                   special interest magazines. Popular Boating, Popular Photography.
 Betsy:            Yachting, Modern Bride.
 David:            They had a big group of travel magazines. Actually, one of the
                   things they did after Creative Computing was to shut down...we got
                   friendly with the publisher and some of the people in the traveling
                   division and we started doing some freelance travel writing.
                   I was writing a monthly column for one of the travel magazines that
                   went to travel agents on automating your travel office and so on,
                   which was an interesting thing because there's a small business
                   that really depended upon computers with the reservation systems
                   and all the airlines had a different reservation system. You had to
                   have Saber.
                   A lot of them would go with one and make an agreement with somebody
                   else to make their other reservations. In any event, it was a bad
                   system and I was writing a column on how to make this work for you.
                   As you know, I don't know how many months later we got into the
                   Atari camp.
 Kevin:            That was your next gig?
 David:            Yeah. It was Joe Sugarman, remember, that hooked us up with Atari.
 Betsy:            I thought it was Neil Harris.
 David:            He was the one we worked with but it was Sugarman.
 Betsy:            Because he came from Commodore. I didn't know it was Joe Sugarman.
 David:            He ran a company called JS&A for Joe Sugarman and Associates. They
                   were the first one that took these full page ads in lots of
                   different magazines and the quarter page...
 Betsy:            The first advertorials.
 David:            Yeah, advertorial. The first print advertorials. Really serious
                   stuff. Out of that, he spawned at least a dozen other companies.
                   Sharper Image is a Sugarman and it's a spinoff. They've got a whole
                   page just focused on this air ionizer or some crazy product, but he
                   sold tons of that stuff. Then he started offering courses. He was
                   on the verge of doing some big deal with Atari and so he knew all
                   the people out there.
                   I had taken his course and started running the ad. In fact, there's
                   probably one in one of those issues that is basically a Sugarman
                   ad. And so anyway, you took the course, too. So we got to know him.
                   He got to know us, and we kept up. And, oh, OK. Creative Computing
                   has folded, and I'm trying to get something going with Atari and
                   getting their magazine really serious. And so he was the one that
                   hooked us up with them. By the way, I'm surprised that you don't
                   have Atari Explorer on your website
 Kevin:            On the website? Well, the deal with my Atari magazines website is
                   I've always strove to get permission. Atari can't be owned by the
                   same company for more than three months at time.
 Betsy:            It's hard to get permission that way.
 Kevin:            You can't get permission. But it's out there, elsewhere. There are
                   other archivists who don't bother to get permission. That's another
                   good way to do things. Yeah, it's out there. I think Archive.org
                   has it.
 David:            Really? Yeah, because I hadn't seen it. I was looking for
                   something...I still get inquires every once in a while from
                   somebody that wants something in one of the previous magazines that
                   we've published.
 Kevin:            That's why I don't' risk it. There's a few magazine that I just
                   absolutely would not, because it's owned by some giant monolith
                   corporation now, and they need to hold on everything even if it's
                   30 years old.
 Betsy:            Because someday they might be able to make money from it.
 Kevin:            Right. That's why that's not there.
                   Talk to me about...You did some weird stuff. The weird stuff I'm
                   thinking of is the board game.
 David:            "Computer Rage."
 Kevin:            Yes.
 Betsy:            We just saw that. We might not have even remembered what it was it,
                   but we saw it last night at the museum.
 David:            They have one in the Collection's area of the Computer Museum. They
                   didn't even know that we published it. I thought, "Look at this."
 Kevin:            You did Computer Rage, which was weird; I want to ask you about
                   that. You did the record album.
 Betsy:            The record album made way more sense than the game.
 David:            Yeah, well it was a guy named Allan. He was a colonel at that time
                   and he came to see me with the idea for the computer game.
 Betsy:            I forgot about that.
 David:            He was a colonel in the Army and had something to do with
                   educational programs. The Army said people should know more about
                   how computers work and everything else. He said, "The games that
                   are on the market are pretty tacky and not fun. I've devised
                   something." We worked together with him. We finally decided, "All
                   right. We'll publish this game." By the way, he's a general and
                   finally retired.
 Betsy:            But he's not financing his retirement with the royalties of the game.
 David:            No, not at all.
 Kevin:            Will anyone buy this?
 David:            Oh, absolutely.
 Betsy:            We did overprint.
 David:            It wasn't a big seller or big success, but we sold enough of them.
                   Now the record was a little different. There was a guy named Dick
                   Moberg who, at the time, was the president of the Philadelphia Area
                   Computer Society. The first two personal computer festivals were
                   actually in New Jersey, not the west coast. The West Coast Computer
                   Faire came later with Jim Warren and that group. John Dilks started
                   this computer festival in Atlantic City. This was before Atlantic
                   City was a big casino place, but...
 Betsy:            Well, it was a casino place, but...
 David:            ...but it was pretty tacky.
 Betsy:            It still is.
 Kevin:            Not like now.
 Betsy:            Not like now where it's so classy.
 David:            In any event, they were having some issues with the hotel and the
                   convention center in Atlantic City. Dick Moberg said, "We people in
                   Philadelphia can do a better job than you guys in New Jersey." And
                   he got together with what was his name? Lenny? And
 Betsy:            Oh! Saul Levis.
 David:            Saul Levis, who was the president of the New Jersey amateur
                   computer group. The two of them got together and said yeah, it'll
                   be more convenient if we do a thing in Philadelphia. And Saul
                   Levis, he had put together the first Trenton computer festival. It
                   wasn't a big huge thing; it's gotten to be gigantic. In any event
                   they said OK, we'll do this. At that point, this was '78; the Apple
                   had just come out and people were making little plug-in
                   There was a company that...I'm not going to be able to remember who
                   it was. They made a nice little plug-in board for the Apple. What
                   they had was a very nice thing on the screen where you could
                   position notes and then have them played back. So it was a visual
                   programming of music.
 Kevin:            Music Construction Center?
 Betsy:            There were ads for it in magazines.
 David:            No, it was a guy out of Denver. I don't remember. Anyway, before
                   that everything had appeared line by line. But there were some
                   reasonable playback systems that were starting to come on the
                   market for the S-100 bus. There were about four of them. The
                   programming was a little bit harrier, but nonetheless they sounded
                   OK. And then there was still the leftovers in a sense that people
                   that were doing work on mainframes to process music.
                   So Dick Moberg said, "Wouldn't it be cool if we could get a number
                   of these together?" And of course there's the Philadelphia
                   Orchestra, we'll make it a Philadelphia Computer Music Festival! So
                   it was largely his idea, but then, how do you publicize it? Well,
                   you've got this magazine that's in your backyard, that was willing
                   to recruit some people and publicize it. So we got about...I don't
                   know at the festival there were probably 25 or 30 people that had
                   They recorded it all, which in retrospect was a bit of a mistake
                   because they had problems with one of the two channels in the
                   stereo. They had the big reel-to-reel tape recorder, one of the
                   channels was seriously too low. And then they said, "Well, we've
                   got this wonderful tape; what are we going to do with it?" And I
                   said, "Well, I'll do something with it."
                   I hooked up with a studio in the city that made records, and we
                   went in there and corrected the low channel a little bit, not
                   totally, but enough that it sounded like stereo. And put together a
                   vinyl record!
                   I edited out a lot of the poor quality performances, made the
                   record, and that sold! It sold pretty well. Our biggest problem was
                   shipping. How do you ship a 12-inch vinyl record without it
                   breaking? But that sold pretty well. That, of course, died off
                   along with everything else when Creative Computing got killed by
                   Ziff. But, I still had the original test pressing of that, the
                   original, original.
                   I played it back, and it sounded very good. Put it into, I forget
                   what the software was, but, it was one, the digital routine. It
                   would have been nice if I still had the original tape, but, I
                   didn't. But, OK, it's got a little bit of deterioration, going to a
                   On the other hand, we're not talking about losing overtones of a
                   violin up at 15,000 hertz. It was within a narrow band, to begin
                   with, in any event. But that did let me totally correct the left
                   channel and bring it up to what it should be. I put that out. I'm
                   selling CDs now, of that.
                   In fact, a guy from Australia ordered one, and obviously, the
                   postage to send anything overseas is a lot more. He said, "Why
                   don't you just make MP3 files out of it?" Because, they're WAV
                   files, the way they are now. I go, "OK."
                   This is very recent, like within the last couple of weeks, I
                   downloaded some software, "Convert WAV to MP3," converted it, sent
                   them the files. They said, "That's great." What I think what I'll
                   probably do is try to figure out how I can make them available from
                   a website.
 Kevin:            You've apparently forgotten that, like, 10 years ago, I did that.
                   They're there.
 David:            Yes. I know.
 Kevin:            They're at vintagecomputermusic.com.
 David:            Are they MP3s?
 Kevin:            Yeah.
 David:            Well, then, I don't have to do it.
 Betsy:            You dummy.
 David:            Bam. I did remember. I didn't know that you did them all. I thought
                   you did a sample.
 Kevin:            No. They're all there. I can see you're getting reflux.
 David:            Boom. I wasted a little time. I waste a lot of time, these days.
                   That was a cool thing.
 Kevin:            I just think it was neat that you guys were willing to take chances
                   with weird stuff.
 David:            Where we took chances with really weird stuff was in the software.
 Kevin:            Software publishing?
 David:            We had a brand called, Sensational Software. Unfortunately, Ziff
                   decided it was competing with some potential advertisers, which it
                   was, in a sense. They killed it off. But, we had some really good
                   stuff. We had the Apple game, what the heck was it? It was ported
                   directly over from the arcade games.
 Betsy:            Was it, "Space Invaders"?
 David:            "Space Invaders."
 Kevin:            It was a clone of, "Space Invaders"?
 David:            It was the real.
 Betsy:            You got it from, Jeff Lee's guy.
 David:            Because, "Space Invaders," the Japanese game, was one of the first
                   full-sized console video games where they used a general-purpose
                   chip. "Space Invaders," was programmed for the 6502, Apple.
                   We bought it from this Japanese company, and we had the only real
                   "Space Invaders" game. That was one, and a couple of others that we
                   really could have gone places with. That was just about the time
                   that Ziff came in and said, "Nah, you can't have this anymore."
                   They were into printed media, so, they kept the books going, but,
                   not any of the other stuff. The other thing we had, was, speaking
                   of computer music, a little division, that probably could have
                   gotten a lot bigger, called Peripherals Plus. We were marketing a
                   little computer music board, it was an S-100 bus once. But if we
                   had then...
 Betsy:            Didn't we have a plotter, too?
 David:            Yep. We had about five or six interesting, low-level products. But,
                   again, Ziff.
 Kevin:            That stuff was really competing with the advertisers.
 David:            Yeah. Obviously, that wasn't our intent. But, yes it was. We also
                   offered courses at that time. Do you remember, at County College?
 Betsy:            I don't.
 David:            That was just at when we moved into the new building at Hanover. We
                   had two people that were doing that.
 Betsy:            One of them was that crazy, Larry guy. He was seriously weird.
 David:            County College of Morris, we reached an agreement that we would
                   teach their Introductory Computer course. Not for their day
                   students, but they offered evening courses, adult education, we
                   were doing that. Fingers in a lot of pies, at that point.
                   Actually, from that standpoint, it was, probably, good that Ziff
                   got us a little bit more focused, and back to the roots of
                   publishing. Getting spread a little thin.
 Kevin:            You went to Atari, got the Atari game, and you did the "Atari
                   Explorer," right?
 David:            "Atari Explorer." They had had an occasional publication, not
                   really a magazine, but one that was focused on the games, and they
                   decided that they could start that one up again. It started up with
                   a new name. We called it, "Atarian." It was focused, basically, on
                   video games. You buy one of their video games and you get an issue.
                   Anyway, there were different ways that they were going to promote
                   But, a year later Nintendo just, absolutely, buried "Atarian," in
                   '89. They kept Atari Spore going for, I think, two more issues,
 Betsy:            Yeah.
 David:            Was it two?
 Betsy:            I don't remember the details.
 David:            It wasn't much.
 Betsy:            I remember why they killed it.
 David:            Ms. Feisty here. Come on. You've got to tell the story here.
 Betsy:            They were playing games with our printer. Production schedule.
                   Everybody had a production schedule. We never missed our production
                   date, getting things to the printer, getting them mailed. We just
                   did it because that's what you had to do. I will probably get sued
                   for this. Atari started not paying the printer and the printer says
                   we're not going to print this until we get paid. The date kept
                   slipping and slipping and the subscribers would be calling up and
                   saying, "Where's my magazine?"
                   This went on for.. it was bi-monthly. It went on for maybe six months. I
                   finally wrote an editorial in which I explained to the readers
                   exactly what was going on. They didn't see it until it was printed.
 David:            That didn't get into the magazine, though.
 Betsy:            It did.
 David:            That's right, it did.
 Betsy:            They never saw it. We were producing it out of Mendham
                   New Jersey and printing it in eastern Pennsylvania and they never
                   saw it until it was too late. My tenure was cut short but I didn't
                   really care at that point. I was sick of them. It was really hard.
                   They're not easy people to deal with, even when the owners last for
                   more than three months. That was my suicide by editorial. The only
                   time in my life I've ever been fired.
 David:            I didn't realize they didn't read that beforehand but I should
                   have. I should have.
 Betsy:            [laughs] I probably wouldn't have gotten fired if they had.
 David:            That was kinda the straw that broke the camel's back.
 Betsy:            But then John Jainschigg kept doing it a little bit.
 David:            I know. In a lot of cases, particularly with the games magazine,
                   they wanted to approve everything that went in it. If you do an
                   objective product review, you call it like it is. Oh my gosh, there
                   was one, it wasn't just one product but a roundup after Consumer
                   Electronics' show, and I don't remember what it was. Atari had
                   brought out some new products that really weren't ready to go.
                   In some cases I just said, "I'm not going to say anything about
                   this one or these two or three. I'll focus on the ones that are
                   ready to go or are in good shape." Oh my gosh. "What about this?
                   This is a wonderful thing." "Well, maybe it will be but it isn't
                   yet." We had issues all along on censorship and them changing what
                   we had written and everything. As Betsy said, they were not nice
                   people to work with. I forget, the two brothers.
 Betsy:            Trammell.
 David:            Trammell, yeah. That came from Commodore.
 Betsy:            Jack and somebody else. Jack and his brother.
 David:            It was interesting because yesterday I saw Nolan Bushnell. He was
                   at that event. Nolan was flamboyant, but basically he had integrity
                   and he was an honest guy. Man, oh man. Didn't stay and the
                   corporation changed after he left.
 Kevin:            Then you're done with Atari and then it's straight to military
                   vehicles there?
 David:            [laughs] No.
 Betsy:            There was a hiatus.
 David:            Oh, man. We published magazines, in-house magazines, for a couple
                   other organizations. Did one for Nabisco called...I don't even
                   remember but it was for their marketing department. Published that
                   for some period of time and then they decided to bring it in-house.
 Betsy:            It was more like a newsletter.
 David:            It was 16 pages. It was getting there.
 Betsy:            16 pages is a newsletter.
 David:            All right. Magazine format. Let's put it that way. We did some
                   fulfillment. Basically, a lot of freelance writing on the travel
 Betsy:            Stuffed dogs. The stuffed dogs. Remember those four dogs for my
 David:            That's fulfillment. Fulfillment for Con Edison. I published a
                   couple newsletters for a while, one called "Effective Investing"
                   and one called "Effective Communication" for writers. We're talking
                   early '90s.
 Betsy:            That was when people still cared, thought that there might be a
                   correct way to do something and they wanted to know what it was.
 David:            That was focused on "Take this computer and start to use it as a
                   tool. Don't be afraid of the thing." '91/'92 not everybody was
                   using a computer yet or a personal computer. That was the
                   orientation of that. Then the other thing we got into big time was
                   we'd been involved with a local rescue mission for men with drug,
                   alcohol, homeless issues and we were writing and producing their
 Betsy:            We were producing all of their fundraising material.
 David:            We started, I think, with the newsletter.
 Betsy:            No, we did everything. Appeal letters and newsletters and
                   maintaining their database, the donor database. It took a lot of
 David:            We did that for five years. Then '96 I got an opportunity to buy
                   this crazy military vehicles magazine for people that were
                   restoring old historic military vehicles. It was a magazine but it
                   was I guess more of a glorified newsletter.
 Betsy:            It was horrible.
 David:            It was horrible but it was really terrible. In fact, the editor or
                   the publisher, whatever, the owner, he'd take the articles however
                   the writer would send them. If it was double spaced type, boom,
                   that's what would appear in the magazine.
 Kevin:            Save all the typesetting.
 Betsy:            He had zero typesetting expense.
 David:            Zero editing. He just took anything that came in, put it in. Ads
                   the same way. Half the ads were hand written. Well, not half, but a
                   significant number had corrections on them by hand. Oh my gosh. It
                   was so terrible. I made it into a real magazine and built it up. At
                   that point the circulation had been about 10,000. We built it up
                   and we were pushing close to 20,000 magazines. It was a real
                   magazine. I sold it to Crowsey publications.
                   Then they, which I did not realize at the time, the owner, Chet
                   Crowsey, had put the whole company up for sale and he sold the
                   company a year or two later to some other specialty magazine
                   publisher. We're talking narrow, narrow niche. They published a lot
                   of, what'd they call it, white tail bow hunting. Really, really
                   narrow stuff. Up in northern Wisconsin is where they were based. In
                   any event, he sold it.
                   The new publishers, their whole stick was making money. They
                   immediately raised the subscription price of military vehicles. We
                   were charging $18 a year which was fine and they raised it to
                   $21.95 or something and they raised the advertising rates and
                   everything else.
                   The last I knew, the circulation was back down around 10,000.
                   [laughs] It doesn't pay off to take that approach. I didn't have
                   the same emotional connection, with that as I did with Creative
                   Computing and the other magazines there. But it, fine, you do what
                   you want with the magazine, it's OK.
 Kevin:            You didn't care too much?
 David:            Nah.
 Kevin:            So, what do you guys do now? It seems like charity work and [inaudible
                   01:18:45] ?
 Betsy:            Yeah. I run a non-profit called Beyond the Walls, and he runs his
                   website and does Bible studies.
 David:            Right. Actually, Betsy, the organization she has, she's executive
                   director of Beyond the Wall, that's gotten huge.
 Betsy:            It's getting bigger and bigger.
 David:            It's gotten huge.
 Betsy:            I think huge is probably an exaggeration.
 David:            Well, not huge like a Gates Foundation thing.
 Betsy:            I wish. We started in 2005 with 26 volunteers going to Guatemala to
                   work with this organization that works with the people who scavenge
                   in the Guatemala City garbage dump. The dump is in a ravine. It
                   started in the early '50s and as it has filled up around the edges
                   they put a couple layers of sand on it and let it sit for a bit and
                   then the people build houses on it out of scraps and things that
                   they made.
                   This organization called Potter's House that we work with has been
                   working with them for 26 years. They have an education program,
                   micro-enterprise and health and various things that they do. Since
                   2005 we've been sending volunteer teams. We're not the only ones
                   sending volunteer teams down there to build houses and do
                   healthcare and do stuff with the kids. So we started with 26 and by
                   the end of the year we'll be well over 150 volunteers. We'll have
                   three weeks this summer, I'll have 135 over three weeks this
                   It started in our backyard and one of the reasons that we wanted
                   to...It started in the church and we started the organization
                   partially because it's easier to raise money if you're not a church
                   and it's also easier to make the volunteer opportunities available
                   to people. If you say "Oh I'm going to Guatemala." "Oh I'd love to
                   go with you! Who's going?" "It's my church." "Oh."
                   But, if it's this local non-profit it's more appealing and we've
                   really succeeded in doing that because we have people not only from
                   in our own community, but this year we're going to have a family
                   from Oklahoma, about six families from Texas, several people from
 David:            You got the Virginia.
 Betsy:            Virginia. It's like oh my goodness, how is this happening?
 Kevin:            And everyone goes out to Guatemala and does the [inaudible
                   01:22:31] ?
                   [cross talk]
 Betsy:            Yeah. We all meet in Guatemala. I have three teams. One each week,
                   and I'll be there the whole time and they'll come down and probably
                   each team will build two or three houses. They'll do medical
                   clinic, they'll do day camp for kids, soccer or baseball, sports
                   They were about teenagers, so they love to do the...Everybody does
                   construction in the morning. Then, in the afternoon teenage girls
                   and some of the boys who want to do other stuff will help out with
                   these other kid-related activities. That's what I'm doing.
 Kevin:            My wife is in Africa this week and last doing something similar.
 Betsy:            Cool.
 Kevin:            Which is why I have to leave shortly to go get my kids.
 Betsy:            What part of Africa is she in?
 Kevin:            She did some stuff for Special Olympics. Then, they were helping
                   build something at a food bank. I don't know that much yet, because
                   she's not home yet.
 Betsy:            Cool.
 David:            That's terrific. She'll be changed.
 Kevin:            She keeps telling that she wished I could've come, and I do, too.
 Betsy:            You have this kid. [laughs]
 Kevin:            We've got the two kids. The six-year-old doesn't feed herself real
 Kevin:            She can't drive to school.
 David:            Your annual budget has gone from 0 to what? Are you going to hit
                   about 150, 200,000 this year?
 Betsy:            It's over 300 already.
 David:            Oh, OK. [laughs] 300.
 Betsy:            It's small potatoes compared to, say...
 David:            Yeah, but in six, seven years...
 Betsy:            As my boss, the Chairman of the Board, and I'm the only employee,
                   is fond of saying, "The people out there don't realize that we're
                   just a bunch of schlumps sitting around a table making this stuff
                   up as we go along. Very good leadership. He's a very good leader.
 David:            We were trying to maybe see if we can touch base with the Gates
                   Foundation when we were up there. Of course... [laughs]
 Betsy:            We got a brochure into his hands.
 David:            Yeah, we got a brochure into his hands and some other stuff.
 Kevin:            Was Bill Gates there?
 David:            Oh, yeah. I had a picture of him that I had taken at the first
                   Altair convention in 1976, before he had actually made the deal
                   with Altair to develop BASIC, well he had said, "I can do it," but
                   they hadn't signed the whole thing. I've got a picture of him as
                   a 20-year-old or thereabouts, talking at this little convention.
 Kevin:            You showed it to him?
 David:            Yeah. I gave him a copy of it. The problem I had is that...some
 				    people keep everything. I pretty much give everything away.
 Betsy:            Oh, you are lying. You keep everything.
 David:            I do keep a lot of stuff. [laughs]
 Betsy:            Then, you give it away later. [laughs]
 David:            Yeah. Well, when Stan Freiberger was putting together the "Fire in
                   the Valley" book, I gave him a lot of photographs and I gave him
                   the originals. Then the publisher said, "It's not good enough. The
                   photo. You get the negative." OK, they're gone. Never any of that
                   came back. In fact, what I had to do is scan the photo from the
                   book to make the print to give to Bill.
 Kevin:            Photos of being young and cute.
 Betsy:            That was his Woody Allen phase. He looked exactly like Woody Allen
                   did at that phase in his life.
 Kevin:            [inaudible 01:26:30] too.
 Betsy:            I'm sure there is.
 Kevin:            Its got a lot smaller.
 David:            She improves with age. Every year.
 Kevin:            I saw the picture! You look the same.
 David:            Anyway, the instant Paul Allen showed up, of course, everybody's
                   mingling around this museum. All of a sudden there was like an
                   arrow head over in that direction.
 Betsy:            There was this sucking sound.
 David:            And that wasn't even... then Bill shows up and, oh my God, everybody
                   has to go see Bill.
 Betsy:            I was talking to Bob Rynett this morning, the guy who organized it,
                   and he said, "Oh, Paul was very happy. Paul was very pleased with
                   the way the event went." He said his only regret was that he and
                   Bill didn't have enough time to spend with the people. And I'm
                   thinking, "Well, OK, if you just stayed a little longer."
 David:            Well, at least Paul Allen did come to the dinner.
 Betsy:            Yeah, he stayed a little longer, but Bill, he was in and out like
 David:            Bill was there for maybe an hour.
 Kevin:            He just showed up because he had to.
 Betsy:            Yeah, exactly. It was a cameo.
 Kevin:            Was this your cameo there?
 Betsy:            Oh, yes. There I am. I was thinner then. Oh! There's Ted in his
                   hat! And Peter Fee! Who's that guy?
 David:            Dick Heiser was at the convention and he had one of the hats, a
                   Xanadu hat.
 Betsy:            He was wearing one of those hats. The rings were actually silver.
                   Oh and there's Johnny Anderson. He's the one that wrote that
                   Oh, and this was our building.
 David:            That was the greenhouse garage building that we started. [laughs]
 Betsy:            And there was a hole. Was it you or my brother that made a hole in
                   the wall for an air conditioner?
 David:            It was your brother.
 Betsy:            And the building was painted white after...
 Kevin:            Is that the air conditioner? You comment about the low tech air
 Betsy:            No, that was in an actual window. This building had been painted
                   white after and right about here a hole had been made in the wall
                   for this through-the-wall air conditioner. It was rented and when
                   we moved out, we had this hole in the wall. So, my brother takes
                   this spare ceiling panel that we had. It was white and sort of
                   stuffed it in the hole and filled it up so that it really didn't
                   show any more. We never heard any more about it.
 David:            That building today is...
 Betsy:            They've made it very fancy.
 David:            Oh my gosh! It's a boutique shop and it's really nice. And they
                   didn't even tear it down. It wasn't a tear-down and rebuild. At any
                   event, we were not into spending money on facilities. Absolutely
                   not. The last place that we were in was a printing company had
                   owned it and they had taken three very small houses that backed up
                   to railroad tracks and then they built a large warehouse at the end
                   that was relatively modern. Then they just connected the three
                   houses with little walkway and so we were in the first house.
 Betsy:            You couldn't tell that it was two houses.
 David:            No. The art department was in the second, then the software group
                   was in the third one. We had our fulfillment and storage and stuff
                   in the warehouse.
 Kevin:            How much money did you spend on the facility?
 Betsy:            Not much.
 David:            We were spending money on expansion, growing, grow, grow. Then Ziff
                   Davis comes in, they say, "You got this wonderful warehouse."
 Kevin:            It's our warehouse now, right?
 David:            That's right.
 Betsy:            It wasn't though, because you owned it.
 David:            I know, but in any event, they said we're going to use it. We're
                   moving some of your operation, advertising, sales into New York,
                   therefore you will have more space. It wasn't the trade-off of the
                   same kind of space or anything. What they did is, they have all
                   these other magazines at that point, things like "Popular Boating"
                   and "Yachting" and everything else. All of those magazines, when
                   you subscribed you got a premium. You got a tote bag or something.
 Betsy:            A backpack or a cushion.
 David:            Yeah. They moved all of their premium fulfillment out to our
                   warehouse. They said, "Because you're not going to have a software
                   department anymore, so you won't have to ship any software. We're
                   going to bring all of our premiums out there." We still have
                   "Yachting" bags.
 David:            Yachting bags and seat bags.
 Betsy:            Speaking of fulfillment that was something that we did. We were
                   real pioneers in doing our own fulfillment.
 David:            That's true...
 Betsy:            All magazines then used fulfillment houses. You would just send all
                   the little cards and white mail and everything to your fulfillment
                   house and they would just take care, enter it.
 Kevin:            Reader service cards and...
 Betsy:            Exactly, and then they would send the labels.
 David:            Everything went either to Boulder, Colorado, Des Moines, Iowa, or
                   some place in Florida.
 Kevin:            So when you say pioneers, does that mean you were cheap?
 Betsy:            Well no, because we were not getting good service, we weren't happy
                   with the service the readers were getting. And so we decided to
                   bring it in it house, and we brought a program from a company in
                   Boston that had written a program to run a PDP-11.
                   And we did we brought the whole thing in-house. We had our own data
                   entry people. Did all the caging, taking the money out in-house.
                   Printed our own labels and ship, because then you had to print them
                   and ship them because there was no electronic delivery.
 David:            You know we were real pioneers there and we did spent some money.
                   Because PDP-11/70 was not a low-end, with a platter and disk, 12
                   inch, maybe 15 inch, but a big, big platter drive, and data entry
                   terminals, DECWriters, VT05. And when Ziff came in, I mean they
                   were blown away that we were doing our own fulfillment, and doing a
                   very efficiently.
                   And the other thing we were doing also was the reader service
                   cards. We were doing all our own processing of that. The same
                   computer is same system. A Mini Data System, that's what it was.
 Betsy:            No.
 David:            No? OK.
 Betsy:            Mini data was the one you were using...

[Day 2]

 David:            A couple of the questions you asked yesterday got us to thinking
                   about things we probably should have mentioned or clarified.
 Kevin:            OK let's go, let me grab a pen.
 David:            One of the corrections, Betsy remembered better than I, that the
                   embezzlement that we were talking about was actually 79 not 78 it
                   doesn't make a lot of difference but was a year later. It was a
                   year after I had left my day job, and I was really depending upon
                   Creative Computing for my income and everything else. So to lose
                   that was a big blow at that time. So that was...
 Kevin:            So that could have put an end to things right there?
 David:            Yes absolutely it could have.
 Betsy:            It was 79 not 78, is what you're saying.
 David:            That's what I said it was 79 not 78.
 Kevin:            I was going to ask you to move closer to the microphone.
 Betsy:            Actually I don't have to do this. My ego is completely uninvolved.
                   I would go sit and play with the cats.
 Kevin:            Please, please be here. You supplement Dave's memory.
 David:            Yes exactly, she's very good at that.
 David:            And you were there and have some very good stories...

[clipped out of audio?]

 Betsy:            I want to know, how are you going to know how to spell things? He
                   used the name John Dilks. If you go to write it out, how do you
                   know how to spell John Dilks?
 Kevin:            I'll either Google it, and if it's not in Wikipedia, I'll have to
                   come back to you and ask, or if they're mentioned in the magazines.
                   I'll do my best.
 Betsy:            I'm not saying it in a critical way, I'm just impressed that you
                   don't ask.
 Kevin:            I just feel this way, I can have everything. I don't have to write
                   it down. I can concentrate on the conversation, rather than taking


 David:            OK. One thing I thought would be kind of worthwhile...putting the
                   whole era of the early computer magazines into a perspective. In a
                   sense, personal computing itself went through several eras as it
                   accelerated and became so widespread. It certainly didn't start
                   that way.
                   You almost have to look at a period before there were personal
                   computers -- the pre-personal computer era, which I would say would
                   be 1972 or so up through '75, when the first computers came out.
                   And what was happening then was you had big time-sharing systems.
                   But then, manufacturers like DEC and HP were making smaller time-
                   sharing systems for terminals on a computer. Specifically, Bob
                   Albrecht opened up People's Computer Company down in San Carlos,
                   San Mateo, one of the "Sans." It was an open to the public place.
                   What were people going to do with computers? Well, he wrote this
                   book of What To Do After You Hit Return, of games.
                   Then I wrote my book, not for his center, but for people in the
                   east that had access to the same type of things on DEC computers.
                   Those two books actually came out in '72, so that was well
                   before....There was an impetus for people to use computers. Even
                   though it was mini-computers and they didn't really have their own,
                   they did have access.
                   So that, I think, was an important thing because, then, when the kit
                   computers first came out, which is '75, we really had the kit
                   computer era from '75 to around '78. That's when it primary was,
                   the do-it-yourself, build-it-yourself.
                   Well who did those computers appeal to? It was largely people who 
                   were OK with things like soldering guns and that was largely HAM radio
                   people. You look at "73" magazine and "Radio Electronics," those
                   were the ones that dragged the hardware people into the field, and
                   "Popular Electronics," of course, with the Altair in January, '75.
                   You had to know something about, and be a little bit capable with
                   your hands to get into it. That continued but dwindled off by 1980,
                   because of course, in '78, you had the three biggies, not biggies,
                   but self-contained, assembled computers: the Commodore PET, TRS-80,
                   and the Apple all came out in '78. They were proprietary platforms,
                   nobody was sharing stuff.
                   Actually, the S-100 bus was more shareable. More people got a card
                   that you could plug into the S-100 bus. There was more, but on the
                   other hand, you had to build it. That was really a stumbling block
                   for a lot of people. Then Processor Technology with the SOL. OK,
                   here's an S-100 bus machine, but it's all built. That was a big
                   Anyway, you had the, what I call, proprietary era from '78 to '82.
                   Then it kind of dwindled off, although Apple certainly kept going.
                   When the IBM PC came out, '81, '82, '83, that ushered in the
                   standardization era. Everybody, "OK, we're going to make an IBM PC
                   clone." It was really only Apple, and to a lesser extent, the Atari
                   and the Commodore that kept going with their own proprietary stuff.
                   They really couldn't keep going.
                   At that time, we started working with Atari. They using the same
                   chip that Apple had. I thought, "Man, that's an opportunity. Why
                   don't they just make an agreement with Apple to run Apple software
                   and everything." They got a 6502, that family of chips in there,
                   why not? But that wasn't Atari's way of doing things, as you well
                   In any event, they went through those stages. As a new one came
                   along, the other one died off. That though then affected the
                   magazines, Creative Computing, we came from the pre-era, in a
                   sense. From the education applications and people having access to
                   small, minicomputer time sharing systems. When Altair basic was
                   announced, then it was the obvious thing that we would port over
                   programs to that.
                   Other magazines such as "Byte" and some of the hardware magazines,
                   they really came from the HAM radio end of things. Wayne Green, who
                   started "Byte," was publishing "73," which was the biggest magazine
                   in HAM radio. HAM fests were one of the earliest places where
                   computers were, or at least hardware, do-it-yourself computers were
                   really seen and popularized. Wasn't till a little later that we had
                   computer festivals.
                   The real early computer festivals in '75, '76, had a big overlap
                   with Ham radio. The early ones in New Jersey. That was the earliest
                   ones. It was, I think, more, not more, but at least half was
                   oriented to Ham radio. Then, it broadened out, of course, with more
                   applications being reproduced. Anyway, I think it's kind of
                   important to know how things fit into that whole scheme of things.
                   Magazines either came from the Ham radio and hardware side of
                   things. They had a different perspective than those like Creative
                   Well, Peoples' Computer Company, Bob Aldberg, could have had a real
                   winning magazine, but he was too much in the alternative mode. So,
                   Peoples' Computer Company never really made it as a magazine. He
                   didn't want to do advertising or anything that would...
 Kevin:            That was a different avenue. It was more like a tabloid-style
 David:            Newspaper, yes.
 Kevin:            It was more glossy.
 David:            Exactly.
 Kevin:            It was a very different field.
 David:            Yeah. Again, magazine publishing. I remember, early on, I was on a
                   TV show, McNeil Lehrer Report on Public Broadcasting. Life Magazine
                   was being re-launched and Time-Warner was spending a ton of money
                   on this re-launch. They had the publisher of Life Magazine.
 Betsy:            It was probably Time-Life back then. I don't think it...
 David:            Yeah. That's right. It wasn't Time. Well, I think it was close to
                   the time that they merged. Anyway. Yeah. It was Time-Life. Then,
                   they had me. Sort of the opposite extreme.

[clipped out of audio?]

 Kevin:            You're going to be covered in cat hair by the time you're here.
 Betsy:            Oh, I am sure.
 Kevin:            I'm sorry.
 Betsy:            It's OK. But it matches and sort of goes with it.
 Kevin:            Yeah. It matches fine.
 Betsy:            You have kind of a theme here. The black and white.
 Kevin:            Yes. Yes. Sorry to interrupt.


 David:            Anyway, they were interviewing both of us. They were going to spend
                   more money on their first issue than our entire annual budget, for
                   everything. The difference in big publishers, because we we're
                   talking about that a little bit yesterday, is huge. Really huge.
                   Now, the interesting thing is there was a magazine back then. I
                   don't know if it's still around today, called Folio. It was a
                   magazine for magazine publishers. They covered all aspects of it.
                   Subscription fulfillment, typesetting and everything else and the
                   business aspects of running a magazine.
                   They had some figures, which were true for a long period of time.
                   That one out of seven magazine startups makes it for one year. One
                   out of seven. That's low. Of those, one out of seven makes it for
                   five years. So, were talking about...
 Kevin:            I think Wayne told me almost the exact same statistic.
 David:            Yeah. One out of 50 new magazines makes it for five years or more.
 Kevin:            Right.
 David:            Once you make it five years, you're probably good to go for awhile.
                   The new Life Magazine comes back, roaring back in. Where are they
                   today, or even 10 years later from that point. Gone. Didn't make
                   it. In any event, yesterday we were talking a little bit about
                   where did we put all our money.
 Kevin:            Mm-hmm.
 David:            Well, all our money wasn't an awful lot compared to big publishers.
                   We were a small player. We're big in that field, but...
 Kevin:            You're a big fish in a little bowl.
 David:            Yeah. Yeah. There wasn't a lot. Betsy reminded me this morning that
                   one of the things we did to, in a sense, keep control, is we bought
                   our own typesetting equipment.
 Betsy:            Used of course.
 David:            Huh?
 Betsy:            Used.
 David:            Used. Yes, yes. We didn't want to send stuff out to a typesetter
                   where... what did you you call it?
 Betsy:            It was the same thing with the fulfillment. You are sending it to a
                   service that gives your work to a minimum wage person who couldn't
                   care less. Puts her time in and...
 Kevin:            Plus you still had code and things that needed to be done right.
 Betsy:            Done right. Yeah.
 Kevin:            Otherwise it was useless.
 Betsy:            Yeah. We didn't typeset the code usually. We would actually pace
                   down the printouts. Part of it was for efficiency and probably, in
                   the long run, it was cheaper. Just to turn your typesetting around,
                   send it out and wait for your galleys to come back. Then you
                   proofread them. Then you'd send it back. Then they make the
                   corrections, maybe, and you get it back again. So we said, well...and
                   then we got this used, CompuGraphic was it?
 David:            Mm-hmm. Yep.
 Betsy:            Typesetter. Found a young woman who knew typesetting and hired her.
                   We bought our own stat camera. We always used to have to send all
                   the stats and V-Luxes out to be made.
 David:            That was huge then before...
 Betsy:            ...had our own darkroom.
 David:            ...there was computerized publishing. Yeah. We had our own
                   darkroom and our own stat camera with the thing that goes over a
                   screen basically to make it into dots.
 Kevin:            Right.
 David:            a...nd to do that. To make those negatives or V-Luxes, which
                   are the positive. That was something again. You sent it out and you
                   get it back.
                   I said, "Oh, you know what, we got a little more type here than
                   expected. We want to crop this." Well, we send it out again, and oh
                   my gosh. Doing all of that in-house, but it cost money. In a
                   sense, just for the hardware and capital improvements that you
                   needed to do that.
                   We were spending it on that and expansion into other things like
                   the software. One of the other ones that I was thinking of that we
                   did, that certainly, really didn't bring us any tangible reward,
                   was that we were doing some consulting when we started developing
                   software. We started doing consulting to places like the
                   Exploratorium in San Francisco. And Sesame Place. That was a big
                   one for us.
                   Sesame Place was a theme park right in our own backyard in New
                   Jersey. They were going to have these terminals that you could go
                   up to. One of the programs was Mix and Match the Muppets. You could
                   take different parts of Muppets and combine them. We wrote a part
                   of that routine and a whole bunch of stuff that made computers and
                   these things not computers but approachable things for kids.
                   We did some work for the Capital Children's Museum in Washington
                   and Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Again, did it help us?
                   Maybe. Did we gain a little reputation? Maybe. Did it translate to
                   the bottom line? Probably not. As Betsy said, it was fun for you to
                   do that, wasn't it?
 Betsy:            Yeah, it was fun. It gave him fun things to do.
 David:            That was one way that we, in a sense, spent some money.
 Kevin:            It makes sense. You guys were the computer experts, probably by
                   orders of magnitude. Who are they going to go to?
 David:            That's right. Interactive games, yeah. I already had a good selling
                   book out there that was visible, known. We did a lot of that kind
                   of stuff. Some of it was just fun to do. Another place where we put
                   I won't say a lot of money but we went to a lot of these shows,
                   well, there were some that were strictly personal computer shows,
                   but then also tried to push into things like the consumer
                   electronics show.
                   We were the only magazine at the consumer electronics. That's a
                   huge, huge show. Twice a year, one in Chicago and one in Las Vegas.
                   We'd take the smallest booth that you could but, still, it was a
                   fair chunk of change to go to that, but that's how I felt we got
                   the reach. They were pushing at a lower level. That was video games
                   mostly at that point. Although we weren't in that market, I just
                   felt that that was someplace that we wanted to be.
 Kevin:            Do you think that was worthwhile?
 David:            I don't know. We were mainly looking for retail stores to sell the
                   magazine. That was my main purpose for going there. No, it probably
                   wasn't. It probably was not and it cost us a lot of money to go to
                   the shows. You have to experiment and do those things. We started
                   reporting on new developments at the consumer electronics show and
                   there was some overlap with computers but it was mostly video
                   games. No, it didn't have a real good payoff. [laughs]
                   Then there was the Boston show we went to where Betsy's feistiness
                   really came out. You go to those shows. I'm not talking about one
                   of these local computer shows or something. You go to a big show.
                   You've got to use union labor. We had a computer at our booth. We
                   wanted to plug it in. You're going to plug in your computer? No,
                   you can't plug it in. You've got to hire an electrician for an hour
                   for $75 to plug in your computer.
 Betsy:            That was a bit extreme. I don't think that was actually true.
 David:            I don't know how much it was but you had to use union labor for
                   different things. Betsy took exception to that at one show and
                   actually came to blows.
 Betsy:            I was carrying stuff off the show floor. We were trying to get out.
                   It was in Boston and we were going to drive back and we were trying
 Kevin:            Go home at the end of the show?
 Betsy:            ...go home at the end of the show. We were just carrying our
                   cartons of leftover magazines and books and some union guy comes to
                   me and starts telling me you can't do this and he was being very
                   rude. So I punched him in the arm. [laughs] They were not happy.
 Kevin:            Did you have to hire a special punching person to do that?
 Betsy:            Yes, exactly. I should have consulted with the shop steward before
                   doing that.
 David:            There was a follow-up to that. I'm not absolutely sure but I think
                   the guy that was running that show was Shelley Adelman. He then
                   approached us after that little incident. You can't do this. Betsy
                   was really in his face about come on. We're a tiny little nit. Sure
                   we can do it. We can carry our own stuff.
                   Shelley Adelman, whose name you probably heard today, in a sense,
                   got his start by running these smaller shows around the country and
                   then he built up to running PC Expo in New York and Las Vegas and
                   then he got into you run a show in Las Vegas you've got to make
                   deals with the hotels and so on.
                   The earlier PC shows in Las Vegas did not use the convention
                   center. They were held in I think probably the Hilton. He got to
                   know hotel people there and he started buying into hotels and today
                   Shelley Adelman is huge. Not Caesars but he owns one of the really
                   big casino operations. He's on Forbes list of top 100 wealthiest
 Kevin:            I'm sure he only uses union labor.
 David:            I'm sure he does, absolutely. [laughs]
 Betsy:            That's how he got where he is.
 David:            We've crossed paths with some interesting people in different ways.
                   There was another one I was thinking of. Actually, this is jumping
                   around a little bit. Editorial, in different people submitting
                   articles and then some people I would ask would you do something
                   for us early, early on. That's another thing we went to. I went to
                   comic cons and the sci-fi cons to promote the magazine.
 Betsy:            That was early.
 David:            That was early, very early. I've got to tell you one little
                   incident there. I also went to small press publisher conventions. I
                   went to one over Labor Day weekend, and I don't know what year it
                   was. It was probably '75, '76 maybe. The place that they gave this
                   small press to exhibit was one platform up in the subway under
                   Lincoln Center.
                   Lincoln Center, of course, huge, but down one level is not shops.
                   There may be a few shops but it was a big, open platform. That's
                   where we were exhibiting. I had my magazines out there on a table
                   and I was talking to these other underground publishers and so on,
 Betsy:            That's why they put you there. It's underground.
 David:            Underground, yes. It was a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Saturday,
                   Sunday, Monday. I said, "I can't be here on Sunday." Talked to the
                   person next to me and I said, "I'm just going to leave a cigar box
                   that says put your money in the box." He said, "You're nuts. We're
                   in a New York subway system. You're going to come back with nothing
                   in your box." I left a bunch of change in it.
 Kevin:            And your ex-wife said you were too trusting.
 David:            [laughs] Yes. I left like 15 single dollar bills in there so people
                   could make change and I just left it there, from Saturday to Monday
                   and I came back Monday, about $40, $50 in the box. I don't know
                   whether it paid for everything that was taken but it worked out
                   fine. Yes, I was obviously too trusting, but at roughly the same
                   time there was something going on. I think it was a sci-fi
                   convention or world future society. Yeah, it was world future
                   society convention.
                   They had some notable people there. I was sitting down with Alvin
                   Toffler in the lobby of the Colosseum and along comes over to us
                   Isaac Asimov. What a wonderful little party. We had some coffee in
                   the Colosseum and I said, "Isaac, can you write me an article?"
                   "I got a good story from the I, Robot series that hasn't been widely
                   used or published and you can use that." So I got an early 
                   contribution from Asimov and Alvin Toffler wrote something for us.
                   Anyway, got to know some interesting people at that point. Then who
                   should submit an article, and by this time Betsy was the editor...
 Betsy:            Out of transom comes an article from Michael Creighton. It was a
                   program. I can't remember what it was about.
 David:            For the Apple.
 Betsy:            It was a program for the Apple, but it was something really dumb.
 David:            I don't know if you remember, we were reminded when Harry Garland
                   was up at the thing in Seattle. Harry Garland was one of the first
                   ones to produce an independent manufactured a board, a S-100 bus
                   board, for the Altair, and this was really early, and he called it
                   the TV Dazzler. It made little squares light up but he could make
                   lots of them light up in different colors or just a few. It was a
                   silly program but people said, whoa, we can do graphics on this.
                   He eventually developed it into quite an interesting graphics tool,
                   I guess. People did buy the TV Dazzler for itself but the purpose
                   was here's a board you could produce graphics, do some graphics.
                   So in any event, that's essentially what Michael Creighton's program
                   did for the Apple. Not much.
 Betsy:            This was not early on.
 David:            Yeah, it was after the Apple 2 was out.
 Betsy:            It was probably...
 David:            '80.
 Betsy:            1980, yeah.
 Kevin:            So did you publish it?
 Betsy:            No. I rejected it. [laughs]
 David:            I'm like, my god, we're going to reject an article from Michael Creighton?
 Betsy:            We both liked Michael Creighton as an author.
 David:            Oh my gosh. But we did. We really did. We had standards.
 Betsy:            Later on, though, he wrote something. It was better. It wasn't
                   great, but he did write something better and we did accept it.
 Kevin:            Orson Scott Card wrote for Compute, I think. I don't know if he was
                   Orson Scott Card yet at that point, but some flub who was writing,
                   yeah. But who else?
 David:            We've crossed paths with some people.
 Betsy:            Michael Creighton was actually very nice.
 David:            Yeah, 6 foot 8, big guy. He was a very nice guy. Unfortunately, he
                   died On the other end of things, early on, we really were...this was
                   probably even before Betsy got in...kind of in the small press
                   underground publishing movement as much as in the legitimate big
                   magazines, because that's kind of where I started.
 Betsy:            When I came, we had just published the first sleek, coated paper
                   magazine and coated stock. In October 1978, I believe, that was
                   published. That was the first one on coated stock. That was kind of
                   the bridge to legitimacy.
 David:            For the first two years, it was published on news print and I had
                   a little tie in with some of the small press people. I was learning
                   about publishing from small press review, and I got to know some of 
                   the people who were doing successful publishing. A lot of them were
                   magazines and comics out of San Francisco.
                   So I got to know a little bit... R. Crumb and Gilbert
                   Shelton and Sherry Flannigan, and some of those early, Bobby
                   London. So anyway, one ad we ran real early on was an adaptation of
                   an add that Robert Crumb did. He said "Go ahead and change my thing
                   to creative computing. Go for it." Sherry Flannigan she did a comic 
                   strip called Tronch and Bonnie, Tronch was a little dog and Bonnie
                   was a little girl and they occasionally got mixed up with a robot dog.
                   So I published that.
 Kevin:            Was there some sort of falling out with that person?
 David:            With Sherry? No. I'm still friends with her on Facebook. They had a
                   major, major problem, she was involved with Gary Hallgrin and I
                   forget who the publisher was, McNeil, Bobby London. They were the
                   Air Pirates funniest group that Disney took to task, and really, oh
                   my god, that caused the death of a lot of publishing in the underground
                   comics movement.
 Kevin:            I don't understand.
 David:            Air Pirates were funny, they were just looking for trouble. They
                   had Disney characters flying planes and getting into all kinds of
                   trouble and getting into problems that Disney characters never
                   would have done, sexual problems as well as just acting badly.
 Kevin:            [laughs]
 David:            Disney just said, "We can't put up with this." It was an
                   interesting case, because was it a copyright violation? Not really
                   because they were character look-a-likes, but they weren't calling
                   them Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck but they looked the same or very
                   similar. But, it was a landmark case in the underground comics movement
                   and it really caused a lot of them to pull back, a lot on the satire
                   and stuff that they were publishing.
 Kevin:            I asked about Sherry because a number of years ago when I had first
                   put the Best of Creative Computing books on my website, they were up
                   for a while, then I got an email saying, "You have to take this content,
                   these pages down... copyright violation", it was just like
                   waving their arms. So I took it down but it was, I thought, maybe it
 David:            Well that whole copyright trademark thing, there interpretations
                   that go from really, really strict...everything that goes on the 
                   Internet is a public domain. Well, that is not really true either.
                   Are you making money from copyrighted material? If you are then
                   that's a pretty clear violation. Are you affecting the copyright
                   owner's ability to make money with it? That's a violation.
                   I'm kind of in this right now with Hergé and TinTin, those books
                   have inspired a lot of people to make parodies and fake TinTin
                   covers, you know, TinTin at the beach, you know, places TinTin
                   wouldn't normally go. Well is it affecting the sales of TinTin books,
                   or is it actually increasing them?
                   Casterman, who owns, and Mulenard, own the TinTin copyrights.
                   They are really going after some of these people, but I'm not
                   sure that they have a really good case. So some people take
                   everything off and want nothing on the website. And others
                   are saying, "Hey, this is legitimate." I have collected a lot of
                   those covers, and put them up on a website.
 Betsy:            I guess you'll find out soon enough.
 David:            I will find out, soon enough.
 Kevin:            They may not be right legally, but how hard do you want to fight
 David:            I think that they have to demonstrate that it's hurting them in
                   some way. One last thing, from the question you asked yesterday,
                   back to the money issue, where does the money go, well when I
                   sold the magazine, right at that time I took 15 percent of what
                   I had received, and donated it to charities. I have in a sense
                   signed on, although not as an official signee, to the Gates-Buffet
                   initiative to give away half of my wealth, while I am alive.
                   At one point in time you can compute that, I have already given
                   away more than I have received for Creative Computing to charity.
                   Of course, it had grown a little bit and we made reasonably decent
                   investments and it continues to grow. But, I'm really committed
                   to doing that. My kids are not going to inherit it all. That's just
                   the way it is, the way I believe. Put my money where my heart is.
 Kevin:            I have a question for you Betsy, you said something yesterday,
 	                I should follow up that one. You said something about stealing BASIC.
 Betsy:            Well there was this big thing. Just the night before last, at this
                   dinner we went to, where all the people who were at the first MITS
                   conference and they referred to the letter that Bill Gates wrote.
 Kevin:            "Why are you stealing my software?"
 Betsy:            Well exactly. That was just a reference to that Bill Gates, which
                   had just been brought back to my memory by that. People were
                   telling stories at this. Instead of having an after dinner speaker
                   they were just passing the mic around and people were talking about
                   incidents and things from the past.
 Kevin:            Did you get to tell a story to this group of...?
 David:            Not really, I just followed up on something Nolan Bushnell said.
 Betsy:            Some of those stories were really boring.
 David:            Oh yeah, long and boring.
 Betsy:            Way too long.
 David:            It's an interesting thing though, about basic itself, because, well
                   it was developed at an educational institution originally by Kemeny
                   and Kurtz at Dartmouth. And they, either deliberately or because they
                   had gotten a lot of grant money from General Electric in the early time
                   sharing systems, they basically let anybody use their Basic.
                   So it was developed at Dartmouth but if GE, or later Ge/Honeywell,
                   put a system in at Minnesota or Florida or someplace else. They could
                   use Basic, they could have a no license fee or anything. That made Basic
                   a universal language that was available, at least that version of
                   Well then if you write a different version of Basic, where does that
                   fall? These are some sort of violation and you need some
                   permission. And basically Kemeny and Kurtz said, "No, you don't."
                   [background noise due to cat]
                   And they allowed Basic to be used and developed by others.
                   Digital Equipment, at the same time, maybe even earlier, but
                   roughly the same time, had developed also an interactive language
                   called Focal. And Focal in many regards was more efficient than
                   Basic, because they were running it on mini-computers and there was
                   less memory to work with. On the other hand, and this was true
                   Digital...as time went on, they said, "No, no no, nobody else can use
                   Focal. We are not going to let, especially those people at Data General,
                   but any place else, nobody could use Focal."
                   I think it wound up with a situation like Sony and Betamax. Sony
                   saying, "Betamax is ours and it is a better format that VHS," which
                   it was, it definitely was. But then, JVC saying, "We have VHS. Ok Toshiba,
                   hey do you want to use it? Fine, we'll license it to you for next to
 Kevin:            You think Focal could have been Basic.
 David:            I think it could have been very big. I think it could there could
                   have been very serious competition between the two languages, but
                   by Digital limiting it only to their own computers and specifically
                   to their minicomputers, not even the big mainframes, it really
                   limited the spread of Focal. In fact, it forced me, at DEC, to go
                   out to the developers, and people in educational institutions they
                   wanted Basic.
                   There were a few schools and colleges in Boston area, near DEC that
                   were OK with Focal. But stuff was getting published by Minnesota
                   Educational Computer Consortium and others in Basic, and Huntington
                   Computer Project. So they wanted Basic. [laughs] I had to
                   go out, I hired one group, actually it turned out to be just an
                   individual guy in Brooklyn that developed a Basic for 4K PDP-8. Well
                   Basic took 3.5K, that gave you 500 words, 500 12 bit, not even
                   16 bit, at least get 2 bytes per... but 500 words to write programs.
                   Wasn't much.
                   So that forced Lunar Lander and Hamurabi and some of those programs
                   actually. Some of them I imported over from Focal into Basic. And
                   then we had a machine that had 8K, we had a different version of Basic
                   and then because Hewlett Packard had a machine that read cards, mark
                   sense cards, we had to have a different version of basic for that.
                   Then we had a timeshare Basic. We had six versions of Basic, five actually
                   on the PDP-8 family. It was absurd, it was crazy, but well, we had to do it.
 Kevin:            I was going to ask you, kind of the process of like... you started
                   saying... you interrupted yourself really, you said, "People would submit
                   articles and then..." I don't know what you were going to say next.
                   But it reminded me that I wanted to ask you like, kind of, just the
                   process of how the magazine got made. You got an article was,
                   I assume it was typed up or something and...
 Betsy:            You mean the mechanics of the production?
 Kevin:            Yeah.
 Betsy:            We can receive most of the articles for the magazine came over the
                   transom. And we would get these articles and our editorial assistant
                   would log them in and pass them around to the editorial staff. John
                   Anderson and Russ Lockwood and...
 David:            Peter Fee.
 Betsy:            Peter Fee.
 Kevin:            What does that mean, over the transom?
 Betsy:            Means they weren't solicited. Somebody in the middle of the night
                   dumped them overboard [laughs] or through the mailbox. We put a little
                   piece of paper on there and the guys would write their opinions.
 David:            [laughs] That is serious.
 Betsy:            Some of the things they said. [laughs]
 Kevin:            Like what? What would they say?
 Betsy:            "Don't quit your day job." [laughs]
 David:            And then they had the rubber stamp.
 Betsy:            Somebody found a stamp. Everything that we had was used, including
                   our desk and everything. And somebody found, at the back of the
                   desk, a stamp. It said San Marcos on it. This was like the ultimate
                   insult. [laughs] San Marcos, like you know, "Get out of here."
 Kevin:            Send it to San Marcos?
 Betsy:            Send it to San Marcos, wherever that was. Ultimately, I would make
                   the final decision whether we were going to publish this or not.
                   Once we were well established, the vast majority of them went back.
                   We never returned manuscripts. And they would come with piles of
                   code. A lot of them were programs and, then we would decide, and
                   then it was the editorial assistants job to notify the person.
                   Then we bought all rights, didn't we?
 David:            Mm-hmm.
 Betsy:            North American Serial rights, that's what we bought for everything.
                   Then they would go into a queue. Sometimes we would say something,
                   "Oh, this is going to go really well with this educational
                   institute that we're doing in June," so slate that one for June, or
                   just put it in the queue and we will see when it comes or rises to
                   the top or whatever.
                   The more technical editors like, John Anderson, he was our best guy
                   ever... they would go through the code and make sure the code worked,
                   and I would edit them for content and correct them.
 David:            For English, for grammar.
 Betsy:            Yeah, with a pen and pencil. Then they would go to our typesetter.
                   Typesetter would correct them. And then they would come back, and I
                   think, our lower level editorial assistant would proofread them,
                   but proofread a lot of them too. When they came out typesetter, it
                   was on a smooth shiny paper.
 David:            Photographic paper.
 Betsy:            And then, if they had screenshots or anything the art department
                   would make them into photo stats or v-luxes. And then when it was
                   time for them to go to press they would put them on boards, pieces
                   of cardboard, white paper...
 Kevin:            So like paste up?
 Betsy:            Yeah, they do the paste up and put it on there.
 David:            The boards were using non-reproducing blue on its photograph. They
                   had different outlines, blue defined columns, both two and three
                   column pages and upper limits and page numbers can go and all that kind of
 Kevin:            We were still doing it in college newspaper in 1990.
 Betsy:            Well that's exactly it, so you know what we're talking about. And
                   then once you get it all together and then again somebody has got
                   to read it to make sure there is no lines left out, particularly of
                   the programs. Make sure that those all still make sense. There were
                   many cases where line got left out or artists cuts off the thing and
                   realizes, "Oh, I mean to cut it shorter." and that little line
                   disappears and then you send it off to be printed and all the
                   subscribers get a little upset because Star Trek doesn't run.
 Kevin:            So that sort of thing happened infrequently, or often?
 David:            With typeset material, not much at all. But with program listings,
                   program listings were really tough. Because you would have people
                   that would submit something, and they'd have a really cheap, low-
                   end dot matrix printer. And we always encouraged people, if you're
                   going to submit a program, submit it in some machine-readable form.
                   We don't want to type them all in to make sure they work, even
                   though our readers are going to have to, but we don't want to have
                   to do that. So send us. But even so, we might then print it off on
                   one of our slightly higher end printers. But I'll tell you what,
                   you have page breaks and everything else. And the Art department
                   didn't have a clue about programs and stuff. The program would get
                   stated down. We weren't using the full sized type for program
 Betsy:            Yeah. At that point we hadn't the ability to make them fit.
 David:            That's where the most common place that you'd lose a line or
                   something. It would get photographed, and when it's coming out of a
                   line printer, you might have one or two lines on the following
                   page. "Oh, we forgot that."
 Kevin:            Personally, I know it said so much about magazine that when it
                   continued, there were just sometimes a handwritten arrow going,
                   "Continued over here." [laughs]
 Betsy:            [laughs]
 David:            Oh, absolutely.
 Betsy:            That was early.
 Kevin:            It wasn't professional, and that was awesome. It was just like,
 Betsy:            Then what we would do, we would request when we... we would solicit
                   articles. Like if there was a new Apple peripheral that we wanted
                   to review, we'd get the product. Then a lot of times, our own guys
                   wanted to review the stuff, but if it was something that we didn't
                   have time for, or that was better suited to one of our freelancers,
                   we would send it out and ask for a review of it.
                   A lot of reviews came in over the transom too, but we tried to be
                   careful of those, that they were not either trying to justify their
                   own purchase of whatever it was or get even with the publisher for
                   producing it. [laughs]
 Kevin:            Or written by the [ED: manufacturer]... [crosstalk]
 David:            That didn't really happen.
 Betsy:            That really wasn't an issue at the time, it was a more innocent
                   time. That really didn't happen much, but it was, sometimes, people
                   would get a product they didn't care for and totally bash it, then
                   we have to go and figure out is it really that bad. We tend to not
                   produce seriously negative...if it was a really bad product we just
                   ignored it.
 David:            We tried to be objective with reviews, but before I got into the
                   computer field at all I was in market research. There are a number
                   of biases, too, that really overwhelmingly affect all kinds of
                   market research, polls, or surveys. One is that people think they're
                   better than they are. For example, if we were doing a poll or a
                   research study, we'd put a question on basically designed to show
                   the executives who were using this data that there were some
 Betsy:            He's not talking about Creative Computing.
 David:            No, no, way earlier. I'm talking about Proctor and Gamble
                   products or General Foods or that kind of thing. Anyways, the
                   question we put on was "please rank your driving ability," and we
                   had from well below average, accident waiting to happen up to Mario
                   Andretti, Danica Patrick, over there. And you know what, 99 percent
                   of the population ranked themselves better than the average. Where
                   is your average then? Its way high.
                   The other thing, equally pervasive in a sense, is that people
                   wanted to justify a decision, a purchase decision. In fact, back
                   the 30s, the slogan for Ford Motor Company was ask a man that owns
                   one. You ask a man that owns and has made a decision to buy this
                   car, he's going to say "Yeah, it is the greatest car." So you put
                   on questions, again, throwaway questions.
                   If you had this, or if you were an owner of whatever car it is that
                   you have. "What do you have now? Would you buy another one?" People
                   "Oh, yes. This is a great decision. I love this car." I'll tell you
                   where you can find out, is you look at what percentage of people
                   that did own that particular car did buy another one? They're
                   always way lower than they those that say they would buy another
                   And it gets more pronounced with higher prices. If you've made a decision
                   to buy a high-priced car, you're going to think, "Man, I'll tell you what.
                   This Land Rover was the best car I have ever bought." And 78 percent of
                   people might say, "I'm going to buy another one." and you know what,
                   about 15 percent of the people actually do.
 Kevin:            So this gets back to the magazine because people want to justify in a
 David:            Yeah. That's exactly right. And as Betsy said, it could go the
                   other way, too. "I think I'm getting screwed here with this product
                   and I'm going to knock it." So when you get reviews, in essence, over
                   the transom, they're either justifying, "This was really wonderful.
                   I made a great decision buying this particular product," or "I hate
                   it." It's hard to know whether the review was really objective and
 Kevin:            Do you ever push-back from advertisers?
 Betsy:            All the time.
 Kevin:            Can you tell me?
 Betsy:            We would feel the pushback from our ad sales people. They would say
                   "So and so is annoyed with you because you didn't put it." We very
                   rarely put anybody's totally negative reviews, but we tried to be
                   objective, and not every product is perfect. Almost every product
                   is going to have some negative feature.
                   We would put those in and the advertisers would then go to their ad
                   rep and complain. Then the ad rep would come to us and say, "Why
                   are you doing this? These people are mad. I have to sell them ads."
                   We would just say "Separation of church and State. You are
                   advertising in this magazine because it's a credible magazine, and
                   if we let you push us around, it won't be credible anymore, and
                   then it will reflect on your ad."
 Kevin:            Do you remember anyone ever pulling ads, you know...?
 Betsy:            I don't, offhand. Do you?
 David:            No, but I can tell you the opposite. There were a couple of
                   magazines that almost ran manufactured press releases as product
                   reviews. They did get more advertising than we did from some
                   manufacturers that liked that. I hate to name names, but Compute
                   magazine. I don't think you'll find any negative reviews in Compute
                   magazine. Everything was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
                   Personal Computing, similar, very positive "Wow, gee whiz" reviews on
                   almost all the things that they saw. It just isn't that way.
 Kevin:            You have talked a lot about Creative and we've talked briefly
                   at least about the other magazines. Sync, the one about Timex
                   Sinclair. I understand the allure of publishing a magazine geared
                   to a specific system, but why did you pick Timex Sinclair? [laughs]
 David:            Probably two reasons. One is that we had more of a presence in
                   England than most of the other magazines.
 Betsy:            Still do.
 David:            We had a very early agreement with David Tebbet, who was the co-
                   publisher of Personal Computer, something-or-other. It might have
                   been Personal Computer World. Yes, it was.
 Betsy Ahi:        Yes it was Personal Computer World, and when PC world started they
                   had to call it PC World because there was already a Personal
                   Computer World in England.
 David:            And we had an agreement that they could reprint materials from
                   Creative Computing, which they did for a while but then they
                   developed their own in-house capabilities and there was enough
                   differences. We went to England and very early on had an agent in
                   England that we could take subscriptions.
 Betsy:            A housewife who kept the back issues in her spare bathroom.
 David:            Yeah, we still know her. Hazel Greaves, Hazy. Anyway, so we were
                   getting enough subscriptions from England. We were sending over, I
                   don't know how they packaged them up, but they call them Mbox, or M-
                   bags, mail bags basically of magazines, then we remail them from
                   England. So I had more of our connection with British market than
                   probably any of the other magazines, well definitely did.
                   And so I get to know Clive Sinclair and what's going on over there.
                   And then when they bring over the computer to this country and
                   Timex, I mean my God, big outfit. They were going to market it. By that
                   time you know, there was no point starting a Commodore
                   magazine or an entire magazine. They were, Or Apple, they were
                   already existed. So maybe this is going to be the next big one. We
                   will be right there when they start. When they were.
                   Timex actually put, what we had simple, simple Sync or something
                   but it was in the package with the computer. So that was one way of
                   getting our subscriber base and we couldn't possibly afford to
                   advertise and do direct mailings for a magazine like that. But they
                   were, in a sense, helping us get going. So that's why. It was pretty
                   successful actually. We were making money on that magazine
                   mainly because we didn't have to promote it.
                   If we had to get subscriptions, we could not have possibly made it
                   work. There wasn't enough advertising really. I don't know what the
                   ratio here was, but it was not as good as we would have liked it.
                   The magazine would have been tiny if we maintained the same
                   advertising to edit ratio we would have liked. But we didn't lose
                   money on it but we didn't make anything on it either. I
                   think it was a break-even proposition.
 Kevin:            OK. Microsystems. I'll say I don't think I know anything about it,
                   but it was on the list.
 David:            Microsystems... I said there was a lot of early development in
                   New Jersey and there was a guy named Saul Libes, you will find him
                   probably, [laughs] who was the first president of the Amateur
                   Computer Group in New Jersey. He was a Professor at Trenton State
                   College, and he felt that Byte magazine started out fine but then
                   they were focusing more on assembled hardware and things that were
                   already made.
                   So he wanted to get down on really lower level of do it yourself,
                   build it yourself. Microsystems was more like Byte was in the very
                   beginning, publishing circuit diagram with logic in PC's and
 Betsy:            The first name was S-100 Microsystems.
 David:            Yeah, for the S-100 bus, then it became Microsystems in '78 or '79.
                   When some of the others came out they started covering the 6800
                   and 68000 chips from Motorola. But I would say it was a really
                   techy magazine and it was one that I think, Ziff probably killed
                   that one off.
 Betsy:            It was dead before before Ziff. [laughs]
 David:            It might have been. I don't know, but it was...
 Betsy:            I mean, S-100 bus did not survive into the 80's.
 David:            It was dead before as there was these eras and the do it yourself
                   S100 era, that was '75 to '78. Then it kind of had a downward spiral
                   of two or three years and it was gone. Well, maybe it wasn't gone
                   but it wasn't the same. And so Microsystems was tuned into that and
                   they were running hardcore stuff.
                   And the reason that Saul... we reached an agreement with him to
                   publish it, is basically he didn't have any real magazine
                   background. We thought we could do something with it. It turned out
                   not to be a good fit, but we published it for a while. I don't know
                   if we made money or lost money on that. Probably it didn't make
                   anything. [laughs]
 Kevin:            Small Business Computers, or Computing.
 David:            What?
 Betsy:            Small business computers? Who do we buy that from? I can't even
                   remember. You can't even remember that we had it, I can tell by the
                   look on your face.
 David:            I can't.
 Betsy:            That one of my brother... my brother was the publisher remember?
 David:            Yeah, I don't know who or where we got it.
 Kevin:            That just fold into Creative or...?
 Betsy:            Eventually, but that we post it for a while. I think is something
                   that somebody basically left on our door step.
 David:            Yeah.
 Betsy:            I think it was kind of like a puppy on the... [laughter]
 David:            I think it came with your brother.
 Betsy:            No, because my brother wasn't doing publishing until after leaving
 David:            It sounded like a good idea at the time, but...
 Betsy:            I think we saw a future in business computing.
 David:            Yeah, we did, and unfortunately that was one Ziff Davis...
                   I mentioned yesterday that they wanted to really shift the
                   focus of Creative Computing away from home and broaden out and
                   shifted into the small business market. And just did not, it was an
                   uncomfortable fit. We would've been better to have a separate
 Betsy:            I don't remember where we got Small Business Computing from or
                   where it went.
 David:            I don't either.
 Betsy:            But I know that obviously it wasn't a huge acquisition.
 David:            It was a footnote.
 Betsy:            A footnote in the story. [laughs]
 David:            Actually, a bigger acquisition was earlier and that was ROM
                   Magazine. ROM was published by who? (ED: not the Atari-related
                   magazine of the early 1980s.)
 Betsy:            Erik Sandberg-Diment.
 David:            Right.
 Betsy:            D-I-M-E-N-T.
 David:            Connecticut. He did a nice job with the magazine, very nice job
                   with it. Published nine issues and a little different focus than
                   Creative but it really overlapped us very nicely. He had more
                   graphic stuff and it was through him that I got to know
                   George Baker and some of the people up there. The other guy that
                   did the pixelated blocks photos. You've seen those.
 Betsy:            The Einstein.
 David:            [crosstalk] The Lincoln with block pics.
 Betsy:            Block pics.
 David:            Block pics. OK, he and George Baker sort of came as a package with
                   ROM, they knew of each other. We actually, for I would say, four or
                   five issues, ran ROM as a whole separate section and even set it on
                   the cover of Creative Computing and ROM. And then it became evident...
 Betsy:            I think that was because he had a whole other editorial kicking
                   around. [laughs]
 David:            Yeah.
 Betsy:            That we bought.
 David:            Could be. And then we would just merge it in completely, but that
                   was a very good fit. It brought us more editorial than it did
                   subscribers. They did not have a big subscriber base. But it was a
                   nice marriage in a sense.
 Kevin:            Video and Arcade Games only published I think four issues.
 David:            Three.
 Kevin:            Three?
 David:            Actually, three but if you've got a hold of the third one, you're
                   doing well. I think Ziff cut that off after two real issues got
                   mailed out. We did a third one but it wasn't sent out to
 Kevin:            My website only has two issues.
 David:            Yeah. There were only two that really were distributed.
 Kevin:            So now I have...
 Betsy:            A goal. [laughter]
 David:            Yeah, if you can get a hold of the third one. [laughter] I don't
                   even have that. There's a same thing on Atarian. There were three
                   issues of Atarian that I did not keep the third issue. Oh, man.
                   Shoot me.
 Kevin:            [laughs]
 David:            But Video and Arcade Games, there were at least five or six other
                   magazines focusing on that. Talk about magazines that were running
                   non-objective manufacture-provided reviews, all the others were. I,
                   maybe, convinced myself and some people at Ziff Davis that there was
                   a need for really objective...
 Betsy:            Ziff? Did Ziff do that?
 David:            Huh?
 Betsy:            Were we with Ziff when we did that?
 David:            Oh, yeah. That was a late one. So we said, let's...
 Kevin:            Continue it through.
 Betsy:            Yeah.
 David:            Yeah, that was definitely. Let's do it. But again...
 Betsy:            Not only that but it was going to be fun.
 David:            It was going to be a lot of fun. [laughter]
 Kevin:            So why did it fail?
 David:            OK, again you got to look at the eras and what was happening.
                   Arcade games then really were on the decline. Video arcades where
                   you go in and pop a quarter in, because there was so much more
                   capability in the home computers and the Coleco and the Mattel
                   and the different home systems. They could do all, well,
                   not as much, but you get a pretty darned good game that you could
                   take home with you and not have to pop a quarter in the slot every
                   time you play.
                   So arcade games were kind of on the downward spiral, so that
                   eliminated a lot of potential advertising. We weren't going to get
                   any advertising from Namco and all of the producers of the arcade
                   games, which was, "Hey, it is advertising along with..." And the
                   other home producers of the games, there were four or five magazines
                   already that they were pouring money into. They didn't really want
                   another one.
                   So it was advertising that or just lack of advertising that killed
                   that off. We just couldn't get it. I think there was still a need
                   for what we had sort of in a sense proposed to do of objectively
                   reviewing games and secondly, we're telling people how to play
 Betsy:            Yeah, it was strategies.
 David:            Strategies. It was advertising that we just didn't have, couldn't
 Kevin:            Ok, the others I have are Atari Explorer and Atarian, I think we've
                   covered pretty well.
 David:            Yeah.
 Kevin:            Military vehicles, which we talked about.
 David:            [laughs] Yes.
 Kevin:            So the other magazines, Byte and Kilobaud, was it rivalry?
                   Was it friendly competition?
 David:            Byte, we were in bed together. Not in bed together, but we
                   published the best of Byte. Creative Computing did.
 Betsy:            For awhile.
 David:            Well, just one.
 Betsy:            No. That wasn't that friendly a rivalry. It wasn't that friendly
                   after awhile.
 David:            It wasn't friendly once they sold to McGraw Hill, and they sold
                   early. Then everything was off. We did some joint promotions with
                   Byte for hardware creative software. We ran the ads for each other
                   for a short time.
 Betsy:            That's when McGraw Hill cutoff.
 David:            Oh, yeah.
 Betsy:            [laughs] In a heartbeat. No more of that.
 David:            We felt that basically we weren't even competing for the same
                   advertisers. Just a few, but not really. Certainly, we were not in
                   direct competition at all with Byte. So that was just kind of all
                   in the same place and you're going in a hardware direction, we're
                   going on the software.
                   When Wayne Green threw this intrigue with his wife and everything
                   else, lost Byte Magazine. He was fit to be tied. "I'm going to kill
                   them!" and he started Kilobyte. It wasn't killable. It was Kilobyte
                   for I don't know how many issues.
 Betsy:            Not many.
 David:            1000 bytes. [laughter] and a kilobyte, it had a dual meaning there.
 Kevin:            Yeah.
 David:            That was a ferocious and very nasty. Oh, horrible rivalry. Somebody
                   early on forced him not to use the name byte at all.
 Betsy:            I'm sure it was Byte.
 David:            So they changed it to Kilobaud.
 Betsy:            Which didn't mean anything.
 David:            No.
 Kevin:            So did you have a relationship with Wayne?
 Betsy:            Nobody had a relationship with... [laughs]
 David:            Nobody really had a relationship. I knew him, of course. He was
                   going his own way. Now the one area actually where we got into more
                   competition with him than in the magazine itself, because again, he
                   was trying to be like Byte, hardware oriented and he published 73
                   Magazine so he was basically focusing on the ham radio people, the
                   do it yourselfers and so on. But they started a software division.
                   It was pretty good. They had a lot of the same types of software
                   that we did on cassette tape.
                   In any event, we really had more of a head to head rivalry on the
                   software than in the magazine publishing. We never really had
                   anything to do with the magazine products or books. They also
                   published some books but more like the magazine hardware type of
                   thing. We weren't quite as selective, but our book publishing we
                   did get into things that weren't in the magazine. We published
                   books with more of a hardware orientation. We had a little broader
                   line of books than the type of things that we had in the magazine.
 Kevin:            I don't know if you want to open this can of worms, but you said to
                   me in an email, "You couldn't find two people whose vision,
                   philosophy, ethics, and view of business and life was further apart
                   than Wayne and I." Can you elaborate on that? [laughs]
 Betsy:            He was just basically unpleasant, is my take on him. I didn't know
                   him that well but it was just sort of like he had a chip on his
                   shoulder and was daring you to knock it off. Wouldn't you say?
 David:            Yeah.
 Betsy:            You knew him before I did but by the time I arrived on the scene
                   that was just sort of the general industry perception of him, I
                   think. It was just stay away from him, leave him alone, he's not
                   very nice.
 David:            Well, one other thing, which we sort of touched on a couple of
                   times, I'm very trusting. [laughter] Overly so, according to my ex-
                   wife and I think there would be a couple of examples. Wayne would
                   walk out of that door, boy, out of sight, 'you're going to do
                   something to screw him' is what his view would be. He did not trust
 Betsy:            [laughs] And least of all, his ex wife.
 David:            It's the old saying, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean
                   that somebody isn't out to get you." He thought everyone was out to
                   get him, everybody. So we were totally philosophically different.
                   Our ways of doing business were different. I shake hands with you,
                   we have an agreement. You don't shake hands with Wayne.
 Betsy:            I don't think his employees were ever happy either.
 David:            Oh!
 Betsy:            You talked to them and it shows. He didn't have like a great...
 David:            Rapport.
 Betsy:            Well it was not. The culture of his organization I don't think was
                   particularly, I think it was probably permeated with this lack of
 David:            Well, one thing, we had fun. We really did have fun at Creative
                   Computing. Perhaps some of the editorial staff, too much. There was
                   one point where Betsy had to away their...
 Betsy:            Well they were all young guys. Some of them even still in high
                   school, they would play games for hours and hours and hours, long
                   after the reviews were done. There was one, self-contained thing that
                   played football, and, man, they played it for hours. I had to take it
                   away from them. Like "don't make me be your mother".
 Kevin:            Was there any drug culture at all? If you read stories of Atari, if you
 					were a programmer at Atari you used cocaine and pot everyday...
 Betsy:            Not that we knew of. [laughs]
 David:            The East coast was quite different than the west coast.
 Betsy:            No there was nothing, really. I don't think so. In fact, my client
                   John Anderson and Peter Fee, they were actually kind of protective
                   of me in a lot of ways. I can remember being in John's office and
                   they were talking about a movie or something like that. John said,
                   "No, you wouldn't like this movie, don't go to this movie." That
                   kind of thing, they were funny guys. They just kept laughing. David
                   Lubar. They were free spirits but they were very funny, talented
 David:            He is coming out with a line of children's books, weird, weird
                   stuff. The last one, something about the lawn mower weenies. He has
                   a line of 6 or 8, and they're all little short stories. Some of
                   them were adaptations of stuff that almost got published in
                   Creative Computing, probably some of them did. Lubar is a funny
                   When he left and went to work for one of the video gaming
                   companies, his first big successful game was "Worm Wars." You were
                   like, "Worm Wars?" [laughs]  Other people are fighting real serious
                   warriors and you are fighting with worms.
                   We just had a different kind of culture, it was just a lot of fun.
 Betsy:            Jonny Anderson went to work for A+ in San Francisco. He was one
                   of the five people killed in the San Francisco earthquake of 1986.
                   He was in a car and a piece of the building fell on the car. He was
                   a really funny guy.
 David:            We did not have a serious business culture.
 Betsy:            No, we had this great big room with a bunch of tables set up around
                   the edges, in the middle. It was kind of like that, nowhere near as
 Kevin:            I will clean that up for you.
 Betsy:            [laughs] Just tangles of wires, and we had to have one of every
                   kind of computer so we can test all the software, and this one
                   would be running this kind of peripheral, and it was like a young
                   guys dream job.
 David:            You commented yesterday about how we had a bunch of high school,
                   not quite, but still...
 Betsy:            I said that they were in their early 20s but they basically had the
                   maturity of high school students, they needed a little bit of
                   mothering. But I wasn't that myself. They were just really nice
                   guys, we did a good job hiring those kids.
 David:            When you talk about the Atari cultures and some of the others,
                   where every Friday some of these companies have parties, that kind
                   of thing. We had an annual party, a picnic. We didn't need weekly
                   parties and stuff to let you have fun because that stuff was going
                   on every day, not really partying but playing the games and
                   bantering and everything else.
                   As they say, it wasn't a real efficient business culture.
                   Heck, I had worked for Digital Equipment, which was still a pretty
                   relaxed place, but AT&T which was anything but. This was as far away
                   from that kind of corporate culture as you can get. But it worked.
                   Didn't make a lot of money, but it worked.
 Kevin:            Yeah... [inaudible 01:26:58]
 Betsy:            Yeah. And I think they appreciated it because they weren't making
                   tons of money either, but they had a lot of fun. They
                   enjoyed going to work, they really enjoyed it.

[section in wrong place?]

 Kevin:            Speaking of Kindle, I've done it but haven't told anybody yet that
                   best of Creative Computing too is now available on Kindle. And I
                   have been working backwards. [crosstalk] I just had it on sale.
 Betsy:            [laughs]
 Kevin:            I haven't publicized it yet for sale.
 Betsy:            They won't let you do. [laughs]
 Kevin:            Yeah, I think they will have two.
 David:            Did you do that through Amazon? How do you convert is to Kindle?
                   I scan them and then I do CRM and I use Elance or utilize some
                   service in India that converts it back to ASCII, and then they
                   convert it into an E-book from there. It's a lot of work, I want it
                   done well, and I want it to be super awesome. And they just
                   [inaudible 01:28:40] , like we were talking about before.
 Betsy:            Yeah.
 Kevin:            Outsourcing and stuff. But I can do it myself but that would take
                   way too long. So I just try to do the quality control [inaudible
                   01:28:49] . It's not perfect but better than nothing.
 David:            I have reached the point where with my Dodge restoration book, that
                   yes, many of the borders around the pictures are terrible, they're
                   hand drawn and so on. But I'm not going to bother to re-do that, I
                   just want take the book, get it into some sort of machine readable
                   format, PDF or something. [inaudible 01:29:24] somebody that can...
 Kevin:            Yeah, I can get you off with that. We can then figure it out.
 David:            I found one extra one that I can cut up.
 Kevin:            That will help a lot. [inaudible 01:29:37] . If you want to sell a
                   PDF of it, that would be up in couple of day. That's easy, but a
                   searchable Kindle version that takes longer.
 David:            I don't want a Kindle version because people want to print out
                   something that they can...
 Betsy:            Take out to the garage
 David:            When people slide under the vehicle they have it there, "Oh, OK
                   this is what I should be looking for."
 Kevin:            If you scan it and upload it to Amazon, even create space from
                   [inaudible 01:30:06] company, then there could actually be another
                   book, that looks pretty identical to the first one. We will figure

[back to original recording]

 Kevin:            Do you read any computer magazines now? Not even read, but are you familiar with...?
 Betsy:            Are there any?
 Kevin:            There are but they are very different than Creative.
 David:            Somebody out there said, "What did you read today?" The only
                   magazines that I will occasionally pick up in the computer field
                   are mostly from England, Internet magazines, well there are
                   several, which is sort of interesting that the dominant Internet
                   magazines come from England, but they do.
                   If I want to do something, and I haven't lately, but I wanted to
                   get into doing something different or interactive or something with
                   my website. I'd pick up one of those magazines and kind of have
                   same kind of thing that Creative used to publish. Here is a code to
                   do it in Pearl or HTML, whatever.
                   I converted all of my website, some time ago, quite a while ago now,
                   to XHTML from old HTML. I did not like any of the programs that generate
                   web pages, mainly because... Well, today its probably OK, but I felt that
                   earlier on, they were very inefficient. You'd have this much code
                   for something and XHTML would write it in five lines.
 Kevin:            Yeah, using Dreamweaver or something, it was terrible. [crosstalk] 
 David:            My old-fashioned [inaudible 01:32:23] the
                   interpreter or compiler or whatever, has to go through all of
                   that just to pick out what is going to be displayed." My web pages
                   are very compact and short. They are all XHTML, none of this
                   extra garbage and style pages and everything else.
                   Anyway, so that's what I'll pick up a magazine for. I'm was doing a
                   little bit of programming in Pearl and then I said, "No. You know
                   what, I can get routines that I can download and I don't have to
                   learn it myself." I learned enough to know that I don't want your
                   Pearl programmer. [laughs] Or what is the other one? I don't know.
                   I'm right at the point now where I'm wanting to do some more things
                   that I can't, so I'll probably purchase some more computer
                   magazines and learn about it.
 Betsy:            Has anyone talked to you about the purchase of PC by Davis?
 Kevin:            Mm-hmm.
 Betsy:            This is a big story.
 Kevin:            Yeah.
 David:            She was involved.
 Betsy:            I was involved. There was a magazine called PC. I was in San
 Kevin:            PC Magazine?
 Betsy:            PC Magazine, right. And, there was a guy named Tony Gold and there
                   was somebody else that I can't remember. There was Tony Gold and
                   this Mr. X started this magazine and they hired... David Banell will
                   probably tell the real story, I don't know all the details but I'm sure
                   he has it engraved in his brain.
                   They hired David Banell to run it and I guess several other people,
                   and my understanding is, that they told them they were going to
                   give them a piece of the action, they weren't going to pay them
                   very much but you're all part owners and everything, but nobody
                   ever wrote it down.
                   So when Ziff Davis approached Tony Gold and Mr. X and wanted to buy
                   the magazine, and the guys said, "Oh yeah, sure," and they sold it
                   to him and all these people that were working for them said, "Well,
                   what about us. We're part owners too." But there was no proof of
                   it. So Ziff bought it, and they were right in the middle, just
                   about to go to press with an issue and they got word that it had
                   been purchased by Ziff.
                   So David Banell took just about the entire staff and they walked
                   out and went across town and started PC World. Apparently their
                   lawyers said, "Don't take anything with you." So they just walked
                   out and left the offices as they were, And Ziff, who now had a
                   magazine to get out and no one to do it, sent me out to San
                   Francisco for a couple of weeks and there was like an editorial
                   assistant and a couple of freelance writers, were the only people
                   left. So I had to figure out...
 Kevin:            So this is when you became the interim.
 Betsy:            This is how I become the editorial director of PC. So I basically
                   went out there and walked into this office and had to pull together
                   their issue and get it off to the printer. They had a big dummy on
                   the wall where everything...
 Kevin:            They lay all the pages...
 Betsy:            The lay out of all the positions where all the pages and the stories
                   were going to go and they moved everything around. [laughs] But
                   they couldn't resist.
 Kevin:            That is awesome.
 David:            Yeah.
 Betsy:            This one guy, whose name I wish I could remember. Barry Owen,
                   worked with me, and we were able to get it off to the printer and
                   then pack everything up and send it back to New York and then they
                   hired Barry Owen, he moved to New York and he eventually become the
                   editor, because that was who they had.
                   I was sort of the editorial director for a while and they said
                   that, "If you were going to do this, you would have to come to the
                   city. We are going to really set up an office here and make it
                   real." And I said, "Nah, I am not going to drive into the city every
                   day or take the train or the bus or anything." It was a interesting
                   story and we were getting much more interesting version of it from
                   David Bunnell, who was there. [laughs]
                   And in the mean time, they were all starting up PC World and taking
                   all of their freelancers and trying to make it as difficult as
                   possible for PC. That was a big rivalry, obviously.
 David:            And then it created a couple of months of problems at Creative too,
                   because my editor was gone. I had really gotten very dependent to
                   rely on her for so many things. "I got to edit this myself?" And
                   then the whole question mark was, OK if PC Magazine, is Betsy goint
                   to stay with it? It was a time of uncertainty.
 Betsy:            I'm sure it was a bad career move.
 Kevin:            Yeah. But PC Magazine still exists and Creative Computing doesn't.
 Betsy:            Yeah, exactly. But I don't know if I would have existed if I had to
                   commute to New York, that's a nasty commute. Millions of people do
                   it but, I just didn't want to be one of them. I didn't mean to
                   interrupt, so back to your...
 Kevin:            What are you most proud of, of everything you've done? What's the
                   thing you want on your tombstone?
 David:            OK, that's obviously not a one word answer. Proud isn't... I am not
                   crazy about it. I guess the fact that I continued to hear from
                   people that said, "Hey, I got my start in computing from Basic
                   Computer Games" or Creative Computing, or something that I had my
                   hand in, that makes me feel pretty good.
                   You have a long term, or longer term influence than just what you
                   do at the time, it's living on. It's no going to live on forever. Basic
                   isn't going to live on forever. But I think the idea that having
                   some positive influence on other people, on their lives, on their
                   careers, that's a good.
 Kevin:            You helped send people into the computer sciences field.
 David:            And you know the specific individual accomplishments. Yeah, I wrote
                   a couple of programs that are probably in some cases, maybe not the
                   program but the routines, are still in use. That's minor compared
                   to having an influence on people and their career and their
                   outlook, and their future. That's way more important. "OK so I wrote a
                   great scheduling algorithm, so what."
 Kevin:            And you really think it's the same algorithm that's being used in
                   Google maps and...
 David:            Portions of it, yeah. But that is minor. I look back and I say,
                   "Almost anything that I wrote in the last 30-40 years, if I were
                   doing it today, I would have done it a little differently, but I
                   didn't know then what I know now." So there's no one thing I could
                   say, "Oh, that was a really great article, or great insight," or
                   something. Anything can be improved upon.
 Kevin:            Sure. That's what disappoints me about computer magazines today is
                   I don't think that it seems like children going to be able to go.
                   It's not going to motivate anybody to do anything, other than use
                   Word version 18 or whatever. There's no Basic programs to type
                   anymore and it's not exciting.
                   [cross talk]
 David:            Yeah. Well, you know, Lee Felsenstein was mentioning that at breakfast,
                   oh gosh, that was just yesterday.
 Betsy:            It was yesterday. [laughs]
 David:            [laughs] That kids today don't have any feeling about, or I should
                   say knowledge about the real basics of bits. What is a bit?
 Kevin:            Right.
 David:            Nobody knows anymore. He wanted to find some little simple piece of
                   hardware. Really, I guess he has, that every kid when they're in
                   the 5th or 6th grade will be exposed to this so they'll have some
                   concept of what bits are all about. Are you ever going to get that
                   into schools today? No. So anyway, it's just kind of, hopefully
                   there's been some long term influence.
                   And what I'm doing now even, which is mainly developing bible
                   studies for... well, I mostly have guys that have had a drug or
                   alcohol addiction problem coming to this. They're in a rescue
                   mission. I'm hoping that these studies can have a little bit of an
                   influence on the direction of their lives. They're a positive
                   influence on where they go from here. So it's kind of, people more
                   than a specific thing or whatever.

[not in recording]

                   Those are terrible copies.
 Kevin:            They are copies. These are from the scans. I was printing scans and
                   I wasn't trying to make them pretty. Just for my reasons, it was
                   quick and dirty. I could've bumped the contrast and stuff.
 David:            There's Carl.

[back to recording]

 Kevin:            Do have anything left, like how many subscribers you had over time?
                   Is that data around anymore? Or how many newsstand copies you had? I
                   assume that is a lot.
 David:            OK, maximum, I think we mentioned that. We hit just about a half a
                   million before Ziff killed it. Then, they gave people a choice of
                   three magazines that they expected to continue to publish, PC,
                   Apple's A+, or Mac User.
                   I'm guessing that most people went with PC. One of the reasons
                   actually was Ziff's rationale at that point was, PC World had
                   really grown a lot and the circulation base of PC World and PC were
                   very close. They were both about a half million. PC might have had
                   a small lead.
                   Then, by killing Creative Computing and rolling all of those
                   subscribers, there was some overlap. Certainly, there were some
                   subscribers that got both magazines. You probably had a quarter of
                   a million additional subscribers into PC. All of the sudden, they
                   go to advertise, "We've got three-quarters of a million and PC
                   World only has half a million."
                   That was when PC had a huge growth spurt. You know, they started
                   publishing those telephone-book-thick issues.
 Betsy:            I would think that it probably still holds the record for the
                   largest magazine ever published, whenever the issue was that they
                   published it, it was their biggest one. Certainly magazines aren't
                   getting bigger now. They didn't continue to increase in size after
 David:            Then they started publishing it twice a month. The nudge that the
                   subscriber base at Creative gave to PC really separated them
                   completely from PC World. So they had their reasons.
 Kevin:            OK. This is a chart of the page count of Creative Computing over
                   its life. It's not a question, I just made a chart. Every December
                   there's a peak for the big December issue. Right at the end it
                   just, all of the sudden, stopped.
 David:            Well, that's when Ziff had decided to kill it, which was almost a
                   year before. They basically let us publish for another eight or
                   nine months after they had made the decision.
 Betsy:            There was a lot of back and forth. Are they going to kill it? Are
                   they not going to kill it?
 David:            They weren't promoting, no subscription promotion. They were saving
                   their money.
 Kevin:            Sure.
 David:            If you don't promote the subscriptions, you're not going to get them.
 Betsy:            This is page count.
 David:            It was advertising.
 Kevin:            [inaudible 01:48:59]
 David:            It wasn't actually subscriber base didn't drop them. That's cool.
 Kevin:            I just thought I'd do a comparison, even though that's not really
                   what I'm doing here.
                   In the beginning, you guys were bimonthly and they [Kilobyte] were
                   monthly. I couldn't know how to do it accurately. Their
                   page count's actually higher, because they were doing twice as
                   much. I don't have all the data here. You guys tended to publish
                   larger issues than "Kilobyte?"
 David:            It was so dependent upon advertising. You got some magazines, they
                   would run 80, 90 percent advertising, if they could. In some
                   special interest fields, you can get away with that, because people
                   are actually buying the magazine for the advertising, not for the
                   editorial content.
 Betsy:            Computer Shopper, yeah, a good example.
 David:            That's exactly right. Even the guys that bought Military
                   Vehicles, they just went over so heavily to... I always believe that
                   you should have at least one-third editorial content, preferably
                   more. They dropped down to 20 percent to edit.
 Kevin:            There was one issue, the 10th anniversary issue, I don't mean to be
                   picking on Wayne here. There was this quote he happened to say,
                   which I thought was really interesting to me, I wanted to get your
                   take on it. He said, this is in 1984, "A computer system doesn't
                   really stand a prayer anymore unless there's at least one
                   dedicated, independent magazine for its users."
 David:            Wayne said that?
 Kevin:            Wayne said that. Is that true? At the time, would you have agreed
                   with that?
 David:            In '84? Again, you've got to look at where we were in the cycle at
                   that point. The cycle was then, there were more computers dying off
                   than there were new ones being released. Standardization had come
                   in really. You've got the IBM PC, and everybody's producing a PC
                   clone. Apple kept going, and Atari, and Commodore attempted to.
                   But yeah, if you were to start a computer company at that point,
                   with a new computer, yeah, you'd need something to give your user
                   base something to do with it, more than just what the manufacturer
                   was selling. So, that's probably accurate. What do you think?
 Betsy:            Yeah, I think it's accurate. That's what people started to expect.
 Kevin:            Yeah. Another quote in the same issue which we've kind of touched
                   on from Tom Dwyer, this is in 1984, he's saying, "Computer
                   magazines used to have personality [laughter] and now they don't."
                   Now, they really don't.
 Betsy:            They really don't!
 Kevin:            I think they still have personality in form but now it's just
 David:            Yeah. Right.
 Betsy:            Who was Tom Dwyer? I don't remember him.
 David:            Tom Dwyer? He was at University of Pittsburgh. He came up with all
                   those neat applications. He and Margo... He had the best BASIC
                   primer of anybody, in fact the only one that both Kemeny and Kurtz
                   endorsed outside of their own material. He had really written some
                   good BASIC books.
 Kevin:            I'm just finishing up here. The Internet says you were born in
                   1939. Is that right?
 David:            Yes.
 Kevin:            Where were you born?
 David:            New York, New York.
 Kevin:            Excellent.
 David:            I was born in the hospital that my father had a hand in designing.
 Kevin:            Really?
 David:            He was an architect up until the Recession. I think he, perhaps,
                   designed the restrooms but he wasn't the...
 Kevin:            When were you two married?
 Betsy:            1988. 25 years ago.
 David:            June 18, 1988.
 Kevin:            What's your last name now?
 Betsy:            Mine?
 Kevin:            Yes.
 Betsy:            Ahl.
 Kevin:            OK.
 Betsy:            I tried keeping this professional thing and it was just way too
                   confusing, since that really wasn't my name anyway. That was my
                   first husband's name, and then just... "this is way too complicated."
 Kevin:            My wife kept her maiden name and now she wishes she hadn't. It's
                   just confusing. It just made sense to do.
 Betsy:            If had been my maiden name, I might have, but it really wasn't.
 Kevin:            What haven't I asked you that I should have?
 David:            [laughs] We kind of were noodling it around last night and said,
                   "Man, the guy's thorough."
 Betsy:            You the most prepared interviewer ever.

[not in recording]

 David:            I jotted down a couple of notes. Nope.
 Betsy:            Got everything?

[back to recording]

 David:            What's your thinking? Because originally you were talking to me
                   about covering Wayne's magazines and so on.
 Kevin:            My original thought, when I had put no thought into it, was that it
                   would be half about Wayne's magazine and half about Creative. First
                   of all, after talking to him, I thought there's not enough to do
 David:            Did you talk to Wayne?
 Kevin:            I talked to Wayne.
 David:            Well that's good to know, right? Carl Helmers didn't know if Wayne
                   was still alive.
 Kevin:            He's still alive.
 Betsy:            That's true. We asked Carl Helmers if Wayne was still alive and he
                   was "huh, dunno".
 David:            Actually, there was another guy up there that published a computer
                   magazine. What the heck was the name of it?
 Betsy:            Who are you talking about?
 David:            Up in New Hampshire, Peterborough. It was one of the earlier would-
                   be competitors to Datamation. So, it was much earlier.
                   He was absolutely totally convinced about the Kennedy assassination
                   and published a computer analysis of all the photos and everything
                   else. Every single issue of the magazine had this stuff. He and
                   Wayne were on the same wavelength on that. You ask Wayne about the
                   conspiracy. [laughs] You'll get an earful.
 Kevin:            In answer to your question. First, it was going to be the two, and
                   then that happened. Also my wife said, "If you're doing two, then
                   it's going to seem like a compare and contrast thing." That's not
                   what I want to do.
                   Now I'm thinking that this will be a project about the earliest
                   computer magazines, the first computer magazines. That way, I can,
                   whatever, four or five chapters. One on Kilobaud, one on Creative,
                   and maybe Byte I'm meeting with the editor of Byte in a couple of
                   weeks at an event, maybe Interface Age or one of the other ones.
 David:            If you can find Bob Jones, that would be an interesting contrast.
                   He was Interface Age. He had a different perspective on a lot of
                   things, and I had a lot of respect for him. He just didn't sell at
                   the right time. Too bad. Bob Jones was a very serious, good guy.
 Kevin:            Who were the other early people? Dr. Dobbs? I don't know what...
 Betsy:            Oh, Dr. Dobbs...
 David:            Oh Jim Warren! Oh my goodness. That would give you another perspective
 Betsy:            That's, again, the California...
 David:            Jim Warren and Bob Albrecht are tied together very closely. They're
                   both in sort of in the alternative lifestyle. I don't know what
                   you'd call it.
 Betsy:            That probably had Friday afternoon pot parties. [laughter]
 David:            Oh, boy. Did they ever! Yes, yes. Jim also was the one that started
                   the West Coast Computer Fairs. He's a very capable guy. Dr. Dobb's
                   journal was in a sense, well, you've probably seen it. You have,
                   right? OK, so you know.
                   That's really low level programming rather than higher languages.
                   We're talking about machine languages, assembly language,
                   programming, and there.
                   It was sort of like Microsystems was to Byte. Microsystems, for the
                   really serious hardware guy. Dr. Dobbs was for the really serious
                   programmer, compared to Creative which was for people who just wanted
                   to type something in that would work.
 Kevin:            Lets play [inaudible 01:59:35] in BASIC, right. Yeah.
 Betsy:            Dr. Dobbs. That was sort of like a totally different... it wasn't a
 David:            We didn't compete at all. I had a view that we competed at all with
                   them; they may have thought we did but I didn't think so.
 Kevin:            Did they even have advertising?
 David:            Oh yeah, actually they did, and it kept going for a long time
                   because it was a small little niche magazine. But, yeah, Jim Warren
                   would be an interesting guy, very interesting guy, early on. I don't
                   know about Albrecht because you say he published more tabloid
                   newspapers. I don't know if they ever really published any magazine
                   size thing or not. Probably not, but it would give me a totally
                   different perspective because they're coming from the west coast,
                   looser, or whatever.
 Kevin:            That sounded pretty loose.
 David:            Yeah nothing compared to that.
 Betsy:            I think he was sort of in rebellion when he started working full time
                   at Creative Computing because he was coming off of AT&T where he had
                   to wear a suit to work every day. So the first thing he did was burn
                   his suits and wear t-shirt and jeans way before anybody was doing
 David:            I went extremely in the other direction, yeah I did, but who else
                   real early. Personal Computing, which I think David Barnell somehow
                   involved in it at some point in there. Because they moved from the
                   west coast to New Jersey, and they were bought by... who was that? It
                   was mostly a company that published things like hardware age and
                   advertiser-driven magazines. What was the name?
 Betsy:            I don't remember.
 David:            Oh, gosh. Begins with an 'H'.
 Betsy:            Halshep?
 David:            No. Anyway, when they brought Personal Computing... I think Barnell
                   maybe even started it, and then they moved it to New Jersey, and
                   then David said "I'm not going to New Jersey. I'm a west coast
                   guy," or whatever. And then, they changed the whole thing totally.
                   That's why I said they're one of the ones where they were so
                   totally advertiser driven. A press release is a product review, as
                   far as they were concerned.
                   They had some interesting stuff. They were a competitor only in
                   name, but also because they got the advertising. "I think I'm going
                   to advertise"... "Oh! We're going to publish a wonderful review! Give
                   it to us." And so they were early, and they made money.
                   There were a bunch of flash-in-the-pan magazines that lasted 2 or 3
                   or maybe 6 ssues, but nobody...
 Kevin:            But only one in seven made it, so...
 Betsy:            One in seven, right?
 David:            That's right, exactly. I can't remember the name of some of these
                   ones, but there was a very successful big magazine that published
                   all Apple... reviews of Apple stuff. What was that one? Apple by
                   themselves spawned I'd guess half a dozen magazines.
 Kevin:            There was A+, and Insider, and Apple... a bunch of others.
 David:            Right. Actually, there's one that I can't think of the name of, it
                   turned out, it was bigger and thicker and creative. They were
                   publishing a lot of stuff, but again, it would all be positive and
                   so they really killed us on getting advertising. We had been a leading
                   publisher of Apple material for a while. Then all these others came
                   along. That one, whatever it was, was really took a lot of
                   advertising from us. I'll think about it.

[not in recording]

 Kevin:            You'll remember.
 David:            I'll remember some of this.

[back to recording]

 David:            When it all settled out, you came back down to eight or nine,
                   but the ones we're talking about...
 Kevin:            Well, at one point there was 200.
 David:            Yeah, I think that's correct.
 Betsy:            You are probably counting newsletters..
 Kevin:            Probably industry-specific stuff and niche stuff but still, you
                   went from one to 200, 10 years ago.
 David:            Yes. That's true.