Hardcore Computist



Computist was a magazine devoted to the Apple II personal computer that was published by Charles R. Haight under the SoftKey Publishing moniker, between 1981 and 1993, for a total of 89 issues. Originally launched as Hardcore Computing, the magazine was quickly split into two sister publications, Core and Hardcore Computist. The word "hardcore" was later given reduced emphasis in the title after a young subscriber complained that his mother was throwing the issues away, believing them to be pornography. The word was formally dropped from the publication's title with the 27th issue.

Only three volumes of Core were published: All About Graphics, Utilities, and Home Computer Games.

Originally, the Games topic was slated for Issue 4, but that issue was scrapped and Games became the theme for Issue 3. The Databases topic originally planned for Issue 3 later appeared as a feature article in Hardcore Computist #6. "Core" itself became a regular featured column in Hardcore Computist.

While it was billed as a magazine "for the serious user of Apple ][computers," in fact much of the content in Computist was devoted to the removal of copy protection from Apple software. At the time, it was commonplace for software publishers to prevent users from making copies of software by distributing the programs on floppy disks that had been written with a modified version of Apple DOS. Each issue of Computist would include several "SoftKeys," short code snippets and instructions designed to circumvent software copy protection routines. Often these SoftKeys were designed to be used in conjunction with a program called Super IOB, which could reconstruct the publisher's DOS modifications, circumventing the copy protection for a particular program or group of programs. Typically, following the steps in a published SoftKey resulted in a disk free of protection, which could be duplicated with any disk copier, such as Apple's COPYA program.

Early on in its run, Computist was the subject of controversy, when other computer magazines of the day (notably Nibble, Creative Computing, and Compute!) refused to run ads for Haight's publications, citing their unwillingness to promote what they viewed as the facilitation of widespread software piracy; (they had also nixed ads for bit copy programs, such as Essential Data Duplicator (E.D.D.) and Locksmith). Letters debating the merits of piracy vs. the free exchange of information and the right of users to make legitimate backups of their programs, were exchanged between Haight and the other editors; several of these appeared in early issues of Hardcore Computist. When Creative Computing later folded, Computist ran an obituary in Issue 28, reprinting one of its previous articles about the debate, as well as a response from a CC editor, George Blank.

The magazine changed formats several times, going from a thick cardboard-style cover with color graphics, to lighter paper stock covers with expanded content and increased page count; and finally to a large format (11" by 17") newpaper style publication. This last, enacted with issue 66, was intended as a cost-saving measure as subscriptions and reader contributions began to fall off. The final issue (#89) listed only four contributors, including Krakowicz, whose "submission" was nothing more than a section of his series on cracking protected software that had been circulating the BBS community for a while.

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