Dedicated to computer programming, SoftSide followed a similar format to early issues of Nibble, with articles and program listings that users could manually enter and try out. A version specific to the Apple II began in January 1980 and lasted as an Apple II-only publication until August 1980, when it combined with the other versions of SoftSide covering TRS-80, Atari 800 and IBM-PC computer platforms. The Apple edition was edited by Apple II game author and publisher Mark Pelczarski.
In the first few years of publication readers often had problems with the legibility of the dot-matrix program listings. By the time the printout was photographed and placed 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!"
Like many computer publications of the time, SoftSide fell on hard times because of financial pressures and competition. This came during their attempt in 1983 to increase their distribution and reach a larger audience of readers. As a result, Robitaille made some efforts to reorganize the publication into a new magazine called SoftSide 2.0 (directed towards the computer user), and Code (for the programmer), with disk versions of both to be made available. He was never able to get either concept fully established, and SoftSide ended with its August 1984 issue. 4
Softside Magazine had a sister company called TRS-80 Software Exchange (or TSE) that distributed software. 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 some legal issues over copyrights and the name of the business, the name was changed to The Software Exchange or just TSE. Eventually hardware was also added to the items for sale and it was again renamed to TSE/HardSide to go along with the SoftSide name. A year or so later, the company was sold off to the manager of the business and renamed "The Bottom Line". This store competed with PC Connection for many years until they too were forced under. The employees of The Bottom Line were comprised mainly of ex-SoftSide employees. Oddly, enough, after the death of The Bottom Line, the company was purchased by Roger Robitaille until it again went out of business.
It is notable that this magazine launched the careers of many programmers, many of which are still active in the profession. It also spawned or was directly involved in the creation of several companies such as Campbell Communications, who later bought the rights to SoftSide games and used some of the games as incentives to subscribe to their TRS-80 newsletter.
If you start me up, will I boot? dept. (Apple Exec Michael Mace on Microsoft's Windows 95) (The Softside)(Column)
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