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gregf
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Apple II hash list to-do work chore
#369342 - 09/02/17 08:19 PM


On occasion, I might see 4AM's Apple II software progress. He retweets this

https://twitter.com/yesterbits/status/903886450529357825

and wow. If this book is on similar size scale to the 1980s era IBM software "Whole Earth" software catalog book which was printed and was the size of Tolstoy's War and Piece, someone (any typing monkeys) has their work cut out and then some.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=no_elVGGgW8


-
https://archive.org/details/menu-1990-software-information-apple-ii

menu-1990-software-information-apple-ii
by Black Box Corporation, MENU

Publication date 1990

"12,000 listings for Apple II software including the Apple IIGS."

Contains 698 pages of product listings with short (one-sentence) blurb, company name, product name, requirements, ISPN/ISBN, price. Also includes an index by product, index by publisher, and publisher directory.
-

Have fun updating the files. :-)


/hash/apple2.xml
/hash/apple2_cass.xml
/hash/apple2gs.xml




btw: iirc Whole Earth software catalog (book published in 1980s and only IBM software iirc) was a gigantic printed paperback book. I don't know if anyone will be able to complete an entire IBM hash list file for all the IBM software even if able to get access to a Whole Earth software catalog book these days. And the bad thing is many of the IBM software is likely no longer able to be found these days.



MrGoodwraith
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Verrrrry interesting new [Re: gregf]
#369504 - 09/07/17 05:58 AM


> menu-1990-software-information-apple-ii
> by Black Box Corporation, MENU
>
> Publication date 1990
>
> "12,000 listings for Apple II software including the Apple IIGS."

I used to work at Black Box, but I started there in August of 1992; by the time my work there started, Black Box was certainly not involved with assembling or printing software directories for outside companies any more. I'll have to ask some of my former colleagues whose Black Box careers predated mine whether they remember anything more about this monstrosity.



gregf
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Re: Verrrrry interesting new [Re: MrGoodwraith]
#369510 - 09/07/17 02:18 PM



>> menu-1990-software-information-apple-ii
>> by Black Box Corporation, MENU
>> Publication date 1990
>> "12,000 listings for Apple II software including the Apple IIGS."

>I used to work at Black Box, but I started there in August of 1992; by the time my work
>there started, Black Box was certainly not involved with assembling or printing software
>directories for outside companies any more. I'll have to ask some of my former colleagues
>whose Black Box careers predated mine whether they remember anything more about this
>monstrosity.

I am sure one of your former colleagues will recall that book......unless the company went through some reorganization restructure by firing everyone and relocated entirely elsewhere.



MrGoodwraith
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Re: Verrrrry interesting new [Re: gregf]
#369523 - 09/07/17 09:09 PM


> I am sure one of your former colleagues will recall that book...

It took most of the morning, but one of my Black Box coworkers indicated that she was on the team that put that book together. Hopefully she can provide some more details eventually.



gregf
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Re: Verrrrry interesting new [Re: MrGoodwraith]
#369524 - 09/07/17 09:46 PM



>> I am sure one of your former colleagues will recall that book...

>It took most of the morning, but one of my Black Box coworkers indicated that she was on
>the team that put that book together. Hopefully she can provide some more details
>eventually.

One question maybe worth asking: "How did they go about finding the various companies and each company's Apple II software products?"

Researchers and users have it easier now that a larger amount of data can be online compared to way back then......assuming the online data is credible to begin with.

The Apple II book is worth a start though in case anyone is adding more entries to the related Apple II hash files that MAME works with via user interface.

/hash/apple2.xml
/hash/apple2_cass.xml
/hash/apple2gs.xml


And in case you (I was IBM software user myself) were an Apple II user back in the days, 4AM's work is worth following.

https://twitter.com/a2_4am


He and a few others unprotect the various protected original diskettes of Apple II products without adding the old school hacker crack screen credits. 4AM's primary focus is working on the Apple II software that was not the audience popular software. A fair amount of his work might be some off beat software that many users never heard of or worked with.



Kitsune Sniper
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Re: Verrrrry interesting new [Re: gregf]
#369526 - 09/07/17 10:01 PM


> One question maybe worth asking: "How did they go about finding the various
> companies and each company's Apple II software products?"

Didn't Apple sell SDKs to developers? They could've just gotten their contact info from there. Plus there were things like software associations, like the ones that pop up in shareware programs.



Kitsune Sniper
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Re: Apple II hash list to-do work chore new [Re: gregf]
#369527 - 09/07/17 10:08 PM


> Contains 698 pages of product listings with short (one-sentence) blurb, company name,
> product name, requirements, ISPN/ISBN, price. Also includes an index by product,
> index by publisher, and publisher directory.

This is interesting. This is the first time I've heard of an "ISPN". Apparently it was an attempt to catalog software by number before companies decided to use ISBN codes. This Google Books page mentions something about it.



gregf
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Re: Verrrrry interesting new [Re: Kitsune Sniper]
#369528 - 09/07/17 10:31 PM



>> One question maybe worth asking: "How did they go about finding the various
>> companies and each company's Apple II software products?"

>Didn't Apple sell SDKs to developers? They could've just gotten their contact info from
>there. Plus there were things like software associations, like the ones that pop up in
>shareware programs.

Yep. Good examples, but I am curious myself what the company did in case Mr. Goodwraith asks that question.



gregf
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Re: Apple II hash list to-do work chore new [Re: Kitsune Sniper]
#369529 - 09/07/17 10:36 PM



>> Contains 698 pages of product listings with short (one-sentence) blurb, company name,
>> product name, requirements, ISPN/ISBN, price. Also includes an index by product,
>> index by publisher, and publisher directory.


>This is interesting. This is the first time I've heard of an "ISPN". Apparently it was an
>attempt to catalog software by number before companies decided to use ISBN codes.

Also published in 1980s was a large book print for IBM software it was printed by Whole Earth which I believe they did other various encyclopedia catalogs of other products. The only one of the Whole Earth published series that I looked over was for IBM software.



R. Belmont
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Re: Verrrrry interesting new [Re: Kitsune Sniper]
#369530 - 09/07/17 10:42 PM


> Didn't Apple sell SDKs to developers? They could've just gotten their contact info
> from there. Plus there were things like software associations, like the ones that pop
> up in shareware programs.

Not initially. The II/II Plus/IIe basically came with a copy of DOS 3.3 (not to be confused with MS-DOS 3.3) and a bunch of manuals documenting the hardware, so people could and did make and sell software without interacting with Apple about it.

Later on there was a formal licensing program for ProDOS and GS/OS, but as late as 1989 companies were still shipping Apple II software on DOS 3.3 disks.



MrGoodwraith
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Re: Verrrrry interesting new [Re: gregf]
#369539 - 09/08/17 10:09 AM


> One question maybe worth asking: "How did they go about finding the various
> companies and each company's Apple II software products?"

That lore is not going to be recoverable. This is what I was told today:

When PA-based Black Box bought CA-based MENU, Black Box hoped to extract value from the deal by turning MENU's databases into print products; the database data were simply imported into a desktop-publishing program, formatted, and dressed up with covers, mail-in postcards, and the like. (This Apple II guide might have been the largest directory derived from MENU's databases, but there were several other smaller ones.) What happened next is unclear; either the response to the MENU directories was underwhelming, causing management to abandon the effort, or the MENU directories were one of several projects abandoned after new management representing the backers of a contemporaneous leveraged buyout of Black Box decided to reduce the number of profit centers in which the company was involved.

I think that's about all that I'm gonna be able to come up with.



gregf
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Re: Verrrrry interesting new [Re: MrGoodwraith]
#369673 - 09/13/17 09:38 PM


>> One question maybe worth asking: "How did they go about finding the various
>> companies and each company's Apple II software products?"

>That lore is not going to be recoverable. This is what I was told today:

-
When PA-based Black Box bought CA-based MENU, Black Box hoped to extract value from the deal by turning MENU's databases into print products; the database data were simply imported into a desktop-publishing program, formatted, and dressed up with covers, mail-in postcards, and the like. (This Apple II guide might have been the largest directory derived from MENU's databases, but there were several other smaller ones.) What happened next is unclear; either the response to the MENU directories was underwhelming, causing management to abandon the effort, or the MENU directories were one of several projects abandoned after new management representing the backers of a contemporaneous leveraged buyout of Black Box decided to reduce the number of profit centers in which the company was involved.
-

>I think that's about all that I'm gonna be able to come up with.

Thanks for info and is worth reading. It's too bad that probably a lot more info that could be found was put to a halt just to keep expenses from overtaking future potential revenue.



MrGoodwraith
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Re: Verrrrry interesting new [Re: gregf]
#369683 - 09/13/17 11:01 PM


>> When PA-based Black Box bought CA-based MENU

Small correction: MENU was based in Colorado, not California. Though I would love to know how MENU compiled their product databases, none of the old-time Black Box personnel with whom I'm still in touch did anything beyond producing the resulting directories. If any MENU people other than their former owner (?) -- whose contact info I don't have, even if he's still alive -- came to work at Black Box HQ, I don't know of them.

> Thanks for info

Sure. I was curious, and it was a good opportunity to reconnect with some folks.

> and is worth reading.

Not so sure about that one. ;-)

> It's too bad that probably a lot more info
> that could be found was put to a halt just to keep
> expenses from overtaking future potential revenue.

Yeah, if Black Box had allowed its catalog team -- which went on to win an unprecedented number of Catalog of the Year awards from the CATALOG AGE trade magazine -- to keep doing work for hire, it would've been poised to become a major third-party catalog production house. Unfortunately, the management shortsightedness that led to the company's long decline was just beginning at the point when the MENU guides were released, and the opportunity was lost. (Black Box was, nevertheless, on the verge of breaking into the Fortune 1000 when the tech bubble burst in 2000, which severely hurt its business; our rival-backstabbing and option-backdating jerk of a CEO, who was convinced that the Internet was "just a fad" -- costing us a lot more business -- went on to roll up a lot of local cable and network-equipment installers to assemble a services arm for the company, but that didn't help in the long run. Black Box stock, which traded above $44.00 as recently as 2007, is now trading at $2.95.)


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