Neha Patil (Editor)


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Creator/Publisher  Roger Robitaille
Frequency  Monthly
Final issue  August 1984
Categories  Computer programming
First issue  October 1978
Company  SoftSide Publications

SoftSide Magazine is a defunct computer magazine, begun in October 1978 by Roger Robitaille and published by SoftSide Publications of Milford, New Hampshire.



Dedicated to personal computer programming, SoftSide was a unique publication with articles and line-by-line program listings that users manually keyed in. The TRS-80 edition was first, launched in 1978. An Apple II specific version began in January 1980, followed by more individual versions supporting Atari 800 and IBM-PC computer platforms, as well as one for BASIC language programmers, Prog80. The platform-specific versions were combined into a single monthly edition in August 1980.

In the first few years of publication, users often had problems with the legibility of the dot-matrix program listings. By the time the printout was photographed and printed in the magazine, it had become a bit illegible. One reader commented, "after a short while of typing, you felt like you needed some of the 'coke bottle bottom' eye glasses!" [1] Subscriptions were offered that included the printed magazine and a cassette tape, and later 5¼-inch floppy disks, to be literally "played" into the input port to load the complete program into the subscriber's personal computer.

Like many computer publications of the time, SoftSide faced considerable financial pressure and competition in an industry-wide shakeout of personal computer publications in 1983. As a result, Robitaille reorganized the publication into two new magazines: SoftSide 2.0 (directed towards the computer user) and Code (for the programmer), each with its own disk-based featured software included. Neither magazine found sufficient market to become fully established, and SoftSide ended with its August 1984 issue.4

Early on, in 1978 or 1979, SoftSide was joined by a sister company called TRS-80 Software Exchange (or TSE), a software publisher. Many titles sold by this company were magazine submissions that were either very high quality or written in languages that the magazine did not support (which was mainly various dialects of BASIC). Due to a copyright challenge by Tandy, owner of the TRS-80, the business name was changed to The Software Exchange or just TSE. By mid-1979, hardware systems and peripherals of the day could be ordered via mail order/phone order from the newest branch of the business, named HardSide.

It is notable that this magazine launched the careers of many programmers, many of which are still active in the profession. It also provided the experience and support for several entrepreneurs who went on to create companies including MicroMint, The Bottom Line, Campbell Communications, The Gollan Letter.

Scott Adams took out the first ad for a commercial software game (Adventureland) in Softside Magazine in 1978.


SoftSide published numerous computer games and utilities for the TRS-80, Apple, Atari and Commodore Pet platforms over its six-year history; among the most popular were the following titles collected in the Apple edition of The Best of SoftSide (1983) and released on accompanying 5¼-inch floppy disks.

  • Android Nim by Leo Christopherson (TRS-80 version) and Don Dennis (Commodore PET version)
  • Arena of Octos by Steve D. Kropinak (Apple version) and Al Johnston (TRS-80 version)
  • Battlefield by Joe Humphrey
  • Database by Mark Pelczarski
  • Escape from the Dungeons of the Gods by Ray Sato (Apple version by Alex Lee)
  • Flight of the Bumblebee by William Morris and John Cope
  • Galaxia by Michael Prescott
  • Gambler by Randy Hawkins (Apple version by Rich Bouchard)
  • Leyte by Victor A. Vernon, Jr.
  • Magical Shape Machine by Tom Keith
  • Melody Dice by Gary Cage
  • Microtext 1.2 by Jon R. Voskuil
  • Minigolf by Mitch Voth (Apple version by Steve Justus)
  • Operation Sabotage by Ray Sato (Apple version by Ron Shaker)
  • Quest 1 by Brian Reynolds (Apple version by Rich Bouchard)
  • Solitaire by Larry Williams
  • Space Rescue by Matt Rutter
  • SWAT by Jon R. Voskuil
  • Titan by William Morris and John Cope
  • Word Search Puzzle Generator by David W. Durkee
  • References

    SoftSide Wikipedia

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