Present by Silas Warner at KansasFest 1992
Friday, July 24, 1992
Tom Weishaar: This is our second "Old Timers" session.
Tom Weishaar: Gentlemen, gentlemen, gentlemen. We're starting now. Oh, look at that. They're making faces at me.
Tom Weishaar: What we have here is Silas Warner, a real old timer.
Tom Weishaar: He's going to tell us a little bit about the history of Muse Software. Seems maybe talking to you folks, you have a number of questions for him. Take it away.
Silas: To begin with, Muse Software requires talking about Commercial Credit. Commercial Credit, you know today as people who lend money at extortionate interest to people who can't afford anything else.
In 1978, Commercial Credit was the lender with a social conscience. That was because they were owned by a person who could afford it, Bill Norris of Control Data. Commercial Credit was then pioneering in computer-based training.
Up until the time of the microcomputer, the closest thing you could get to an outstanding game machine was a system called PLATO, been developed at the University of Illinois. It was a gigantic CDC mainframe computer connected to 1,000 terminals around the country.
The great advantage of these terminals was that they were all identical, with identical screen formats and identical commands, and they were all graphics terminals. As a result, you could write some really neat games on this thing. They did not recognize this fact and thought it was an educational machine.
Silas: In 1978, there were strange things happening in the computer business. There was the Commodore PET computer, which had been seen all over the world in science magazines and on the "Today Show" and such. There were rumors that Radio Shack might be doing something of the same thing.
I went to a new animal called a computer store. The computer store is still there in Towson, Maryland. They didn't have Commodore PETs, and they didn't like them. They recommended this new thing called an Apple II.
In 1978, I got Apple II, number 234. It was $1,399, but it was a really big machine. It had all of 16k in it. It was the biggest machine they then created. It did not have Applesoft, of course. It had Wozniak's original Integer BASIC.
One interesting thing about this machine, the high res on the machine had only four colors. As you know, when you draw in high res, there are seven bits of picture data and an eighth bit that shifts the picture data a dot over to produce two different colors. On the machine I first bought, that little flipper-dinger to use the eighth bit wasn't there.
About three months later, I took it back to the computer store and they installed the little flipper-dinger to give us six whole colors in high res. Having this marvelous new machine, I soon came in contact with two other people who also had this type of machine. One was Ed Zaron. He was the programmer on the credit scoring department, which decided whether people got loans or not.
The other was Jim Black, who was an accountant for the department that sent out the bills. These two people, and myself, got together at night, sitting in Ed's living room on Ed's Apple and started producing cassettes. We had two cassettes to start with.
Ed Zaron had his Tank War game, which used high res shapes, just had four high res shapes moving around. Two tanks and two bullets. They shot each other. You could control what size your tank was. You could make it size one, size two, size three or size four. [inaudible 4:52] .
Silas: I had my maze game, which was just basically a maze generator. Displaying the maze in 3D from an inside point of view, you could walk around it and eventually get out if you were lucky.
Silas: These were cassette games. We both realized that, whatever this new home computer thing was, people were going to want something to do with it. We recorded cassettes all night in April of 1978 after working all day. Of course, all we had to do was get up and turn the cassette drive every now and then.
Went to the Trenton Computer Festival. Trenton Computer Festival was where Muse Software was born. Ed drove up in his truck with a box of tapes. Sold Tank Wars and maze games at an incredible rate.
We began to realize that there really might be something to this software business. We brought on Jim Black's girlfriend, who was an artist, Valerie Rocco. She started drawing covers for us. We started putting cassettes together.
We built a kind of a shoebox in which you could ship a cassette. Had a flap that folded up that gave the price lists. That was our first point of sale display. It went into the stores.
What stories there were? We had a little line on the bottom of our two-page Muse catalog, which said, "If you're a computer dealer, why don't you talk to us about carrying our line of products? Send in this coupon with your name, address and telephone number." We started getting computer dealers that way.
We were touring shows on the East Coast. There were lots of shows on the East Coast back then. Shows in Philadelphia. Of course, the giant Trenton show, which is still going strong, and which, if you're ever out there, by all means, go and see.
In the West, they were starting the computer fairs. About that time, we were busy going to shows.
Our first catalog, in 1978, had the maze game. It had the Tank War. It had a shape maker that Ed had written to do his tank game. Remember the shape table system. Ed built a shape table maker. It was called You Draw.
We also built a music box, which just played tunes out of the speaker, when you pushed the keys. You could also record the tunes and play them back.
We had a couple of other things. We had a nice little math utility package for assembly language programmers, called number cruncher, which we never sold one of.
Silas: We also had six-200 lines BASIC games on one tape. The idea was to have something out there for the Apple II programmer, who bought the small Apple with only 4 K of memory. We had something in there for those people as well.
In the beginning of 1979 then, Muse Software actually got an office. We were above a gun shop in suburban shopping mall. Ed decided to leave Control Data. Jim Black left a few months later. I rode the bus up every evening, worked in the office, came home at night.
We were building more cassettes. We built things like electric crayon. We built an advanced maze game called Escape, with a couple of logic programs in it.
We started building BBS system. All we knew about BBS systems back then was that they were...Computerized bulletin board system hadn't been invented. It was working on a AS-100 type of computer. There'd been nothing written for an Apple II.
For that purpose, we got a D. C. Hayes MicroModem II, about one of the first of those to be done. I'll tell you a story about that a little later on about what the industry was like. The main thing that happened from our point of view at this point was that I finished the app and one text editor, which was a cassette-based editor that wrote text files.
It worked beautifully. It was a line-oriented editor which meant that you couldn't use it for word processing. It was also an uppercase-only editor because Apple's at that time didn't have lowercase chips in them. So, it could be used like recipe files and that kind of thing that everybody knew that your personal computer was going to be good for one of these days. With that text editor came our third catalog.
The next year, the disk drive came. We were incredibly disappointed to find out first of all, I mean we knew that the disk drive was going to cost $500.
We could accept that, but we were incredibly disappointed to find one, the disk drive took 48K, which was the biggest Apple anyone could possibly create. Two, that out that 48K, it used a whole 12K of the space for just a disk operating system. It didn't have the operating system built-in.
It took us a long time to learn DOS. But, the first product that came out for DOS was Dr. Memory. Basically, it was the app in one text editor with the disk operating system and built to display upper and lower case.
Of course, you couldn't do that with an Apple, there was no lower case on Apple. So what we did was, we put the lower case letters in ordinary text and put the upper case letters in Huwai. Also, there was no Shift key placed.
If you pushed the Shift key you just got the same code back out of your keyboard. So, we decided to use the Escape key instead of the Shift key, whenever you wanted to Shift a letter you hit Escape and then the letter. This we sold for about a year, but it was obvious we were going to have to do something better and Ed was already working on Super-text.
A couple of other products came out about this time. One of them was PEP project of mine, which never really achieved success but which I think still would be marvelous today, Appilot.
I had built a complete pilot language, a RAM with integer basic. For those of you who don't know what pilot is, it's a language that's used in horse riding. Very simple language even the teacher can understand it, that's the whole idea.
Silas: I supported that language but the company really didn't like the idea of us getting involved in a language project. Because, you will see, we were already having trouble with Super-text. A thing that came out about the same time that had a major effect on us was product by Bob Bishop, in Phoenix, Arizona, I wish I could remember the name of the software company.
Bob Bishop built a cassette called APPLETALKER. Bob Fischer's APPLETALKER was, all it could do would be record through the cassette port and playback speech to the speaker. It was a little cassette utility. It was remarkable because Bob Bishop had done, what had been proved in the 1870 by Alexander Graham Bell couldn't possibly work.
Everybody knew that you couldn't get a decent voice out of anything that only turned the speaker on and off. Bob Bishop's APPLETALKER worked. It made a lot of difference to us later on.
What we used it for then was the utility called the Voice. We took the spare space of an Apple II computer, made it into a buffer for Voice, for speech files, which would be just words. Then we set up a routine, you could write your basic program, put out a string and the Apple would go to the disk, assemble the text, assemble the words of the text and actually speak it.
The Voice was not extraordinarily useful as it turned out, but it made a great splash in the marketplace. The idea of buying a home computer that could talk, that could say any sentence you typed into it presumably, really caught the attention of the news media and we actually had it demonstrated on the Today Show. Before we go any further, I want to ask anybody if they have any questions.
Audience Member: Before the programs you were writing in that time, were you just writing straight to the monitor?
Silas: That's a good point. When we were riding them, we were riding them in the monitors assembler. We did not have an assembler of our own. We tried using TEDS-M but decided it was more of it.
Silas: As Super-text came up, a product came to our attention, and I'm not going to say who wrote it for reasons that I will make plain to you. It was an assembler of an entirely radical kind. It was going to speed up our development immensely, but the guy who wrote it wanted a suprise, basically half our company.
Instead of doing that Ed Zaron got into overnight mode and duplicated the features of the assembler without duplicating any of the code. This became our secret weapon in developing programs, the Muse, BMA, a vertical memory assembler. I want to show you some of the remarkable features of this thing. I recently had slides to show you this but they got lost in transition.
[background sounds only]
Silas: That may not look like assembler, but that's what our assembler's going to look like. The @ sign was a synonym for JSR.
Silas: There was no such thing as a ds.b or dc.b or a bd or any kind of font. If you wanted to put a number in your code, you just wrote it.
Silas: If you did parentheses around something, it assumed that that was an argument and it strung it in right in its place in the assembly code.
If you put quotes around something, it made it a string constant. If you put double quotes around something, it made it a string constant and stuck a zero after it. This was combined with a little piece of code that we called an arc. It was basic, everything we did.
[background sounds only]
Audience Member: Anybody care to figure out what that does? You call a routine. The routine calls R. R picks up the stack address that called the routine, advances it by one, and picks up the number there.
That meant when you're on something like this SCR pulse would call R to pick up a three. It would call R to pick up two and would do what you want with them. This had two great advantages. First, as you can see, it made argument code easy to write, made assembly line which almost looks like high-level language.
The second advantage was that it made our code impossible to disassemble.
Audience Member: Because code and data were mixed up all the way through the assembled file. The VMA was our secret weapon for all the years the Muse was in operation. We used it for all of our 6502 products. We used it for Apple's. We used it for Commodore's. We used it for Atari's.
In fact, at the last, our development system ran Apple's off a Corvus' hard disk at 40 meg with each volume being for a specific project. Each volume being marked for what target computer it was.
Our VMA, our Virtual Member Assembler, would take files off the Corvus hard disk, assemble them into a program, and download them directly to the target through the parallel port.
If you ever tried to assemble something on a Commodore 64, you know why having an Apple hard disk is such a secret weapon in developing programs.
The first product that came out using the virtual memory assembler was a Super-Text. It had been rewritten. It would've been started under Ted [inaudible 23:57] and been rewritten to go into this assembler.
That was fortunate because Super-Text was also the source editor for this assembly. It was a complete replacement for Dr. Memory. It should have been line-oriented. New Super-Text was continuous text-oriented. It was so huge that you could only put 16k of file in a 48k computer. But on the other hand, it could do incredible things.
It could link your files together automatically, so that if you had more than 16k of text you would just point one file to the next file and you would automatically go down through the files or semi-automatically anyway. The Super-Text still used like text for the upper case, because we still didn't have lowercase adapters.
However, you could buy now, an optional lowercase RAM...lowercase ROM that would fit in place of your keyboard character generator. We got this at a reduced rate and sold them pretty heavily with Super-Text. To go along with that, we packaged with every Super-Text, a foot of wire.
Silas: You connected one end of the wire to the annunciator II port and you connected the other end of the wire to the keyboard on your shift key and you had what we call the shift-key mod. This later proved so popular that Apple actually put it in later II Es and II GSs, but we originated it.
About the same time as Super-Text, another of my pet projects started to come into existence. Well, programs were called lessons on the PLATO system. I've done this lesson or program on the PLATO system in about 1977.
On the Plato system, a popular genre of games, which called big board games, you would log into a list of opponents, you would select your opponent and be thrown off to a two-player game of some sort, which you two would play and then be thrown back to the main list.
The idea that I came up with was, instead of having two players who were alive in place, you could have a player and his proxy were already programmed. You would have your two players program a computer and that computer would engage in the battle. This was put on PLATO under the name Robot War.
When it came to adapting it for the Apple, we decided to expand the battlefield a little bit. Instead of just two robots, you now have five roaming around the battlefield. We built it, first in basic, but it quickly grew too big to be in basic.
We reprogrammed it in an assembly line, which did something that was very original at the time, but which since everybody has done and that is to present the assembly language file as a basic program with only basic instruction is called [inaudible 27:51] 51. Then the rest of it is an assembly language file we call this fake basic, and we used it on every type of computer even on IBMs.
Even though IBMs in those days came with basic as practically part of the DOS. Fake basic was very... Robot War was a mild success by our own standards. Of course, Computer Gaming World came into existence in about 1986.
One of their first promotions was a robot war tournament with the robots in from all across the country. We had machines running robot war, day and night for several months in our basement. See, by this time we moved into 330 North Charles Street.
It was right downtown. It had a first floor and a second floor area. We all work the second floor area by this time it was myself, Jim Black, Ed Zaron, Valerie, an accountant by the name of Gary Taylor, and we had one other programmer -- oh yeah, Eric. Eric had come on to play that part.
Downstairs however we had the Muse Computer Center, our retail store. We got the retail store for two reasons. First of all, we got it to try out our products. We were able to put our products in the Muse Computer Center and see how they would play. The second reason for the Muse Computer Center was that we got dealer prices on everything.
We also ordered our competitor software. Not only to stalk in the store, but to see what they were doing, to see what we were doing in respect to them to put a handle on the competition. I remember us all gathering around the five-foot projection TV that was sitting in the store window when Serious Epoch came out.
If you all remember Epoch, you could imagine what it would be like on a five-foot projection TV. Still, we were looking around. For Super-Text, we had a problem. The problem was that it was only 40 columns across. There was theoretical ways of expanding it to 70 columns, but they would require building character generators that worked on the high-res screen.
I built the character generator that worked on the high-res screen but it was too big. The high-res screen took up too much of the code. Still trying to figure it out. Then one night at a 7-Eleven I saw a video game called, I believe Robotron 2084 and realized that this would do really nicely if I built it with the high-res character generator.
It was such a cliché. It was just robots and science fiction gadgetry and all the trappings of that era. The whole concept of the game was just a big cliché. I wonder what else could you do with it and then I saw "The Guns of Navarone" and realized what you could do with it.
Silas: Castle Wolfenstein came out about six months later. We put everything in there. We put the high-res character generator, we put our new disc manipulation routines, we put the virtual memory assembler, and we put the voice. We're working with a professional recording studio who was still doing cassettes for us.
They were flight three and they had developed processors to take the audio signal through graphics equalizers and such that made it because that's much better to load. We naturally covered this in our advertising. Super load cassettes we call them. We went down there one fine day and I spent several hours in the microphone saying, [vocalizes] .
Silas: At that point when Castle Wolfenstein came out of course it was...It supported our program, supported our company right up until the time it collapsed 1985. It supported mainstream publishing while they still had it, and now it's supporting a new generation of folks. I want to talk to some of these folks who wrote Wolfenstein 3D.
Just to digress. They did call me and ask for permission to use the game. I told him, "Yes."
As far as I was concerned they could use the game, but they would have to get permission from the people who still own the copyright. We'll get to that question a little later on. Pretty much any questions at this point?
Audience Member: When was ABM written?
Silas: ABM was written about two months. It was written just before we started Castle Wolfenstein. As far as we knew it was straight licensed from Atari Missile Command.
Basically we wrote it, and we knew Atari was going to come back and someday say, "We want a license fee from you." We figured we could get a few sales in before they actually demanded it.
They came back, demand the license fee. We paid it. ABM came on that...By the way, there's interesting story about the title of ABM.
We built a scrolling thing. We would print up ABM in black and white squares using a text screen. We'd come up and then the rest of Muse Software and all that will come up, the ABM would scroll up from the bottom real quick.
We made a mistake in that program, and instead of ABM scrolling up from the bottom and stopping, ABM would scroll up from the bottom. Blip, blip, blip, blip, blip, blip, blip, blip up continuously. We thought this looks so good that we kept it in the game only adding a counter that it would do that five times.
Audience Member: When did you do Firebug?
Silas: Firebug was a little later on. About this time we did wind up our cassette business. We had a couple of cassettes that were in good shape and had written something called Uncle Sam's jigsaw, which was name the states kind of education thing.
He was influenced by the fact that I was trying to do all this education stuff with that pilot and he wanted to do something of that sort. It never did much but it didn't even really do enough to justify inclusion in the disc which we later did.
Another cassette was a submission that came to us on cassette, was designed on cassette. We couldn't persuade the author to buy a disk drive until we'd sold a few of his programs to pay for it.
The author's name was Richard Orban. He was involved in the next great publicity splash for Muse Software. Richard Orban had been working as chemical engineer. He lived way out in the country of the Eastern Shore in Denton, Maryland, which is across the bridge.
He didn't like to come in very much. He finished a disk game called International Grand Prix and then proceeded to build his own disk protection system for it, which made us very unhappy about him.
He wouldn't have it sold under our protection system. He had to have it under his. After that one was completed, Richard Orban got an idea based on the news. I told you, he was chemical engineer, started building simulations. About five months later, he came out with the game Three Mile Island.
Silas: Three Mile Island was never a great success commercially. It didn't sell a whole lot of programs. For one thing, it was just too complicated and too difficult to master. Of course, that was part of the point that he was trying to make.
Silas: What it did do was, it got us on every single local news program in the nation over a period of about two months. It got us on all the network news. It got us on the morning shows. The only reason we were never able to get interviewed for "Good Morning America" was that Ed, who was our president, wanted to be interviewed on his own terms.
He wouldn't let anybody else talk to the press. We got so much publicity out of Three Mile Island that it was well worth it, even though the actual profit returns were pretty small.
About the same time also, we wound up our cassette business and published the cassettes that we'd sold on a single disk, Best of Muse Cassettes. It did all right, not terrific. It did all right. A problem that poked up all along through this time was tech support. In those days, it was especially critical with Super-Text.
The Apple was a standard computer, but there was no standard printer. Everybody had a different kind of printer out there. What's worse, the printers had to be connected to the Apple by interface cards and nobody had a standard interface card. Apple put out its printer interface card. It was so expensive that everybody and his brother built cheap printer interface cards.
We had printer interface cards, for instance, that had no software on them. They had just a UART and they had to be driven by a software program that was loaded into the memory. We had parallel printer interface cards where the parallel interface was actually a UART.
You'd send it into the buffer as if it were a serial and then you'd switch ends and drop it out of the buffer as if it'd been just received from serial. We had every conceivable possibility for printers and interface cards. Remember, not even Epson standard was known then.
The joke was that, every couple of hours, you'd pick up the phone and somebody would come on and say, "I have a [inaudible 40:23] 4751 printer with a block in B7340 interface. How do I connect Super-Text to work on my Apple?" We found the solution to this problem. His name was Marty Amberg.
He was a 5'6 face buried in a cauliflower blond hair. He lived in a commune in the upper reaches of Maryland with six other guys, eating macrobiotic rice and chanting. All of this made him our ideal technical support person.
He could stand and talk to a person, who when asked to press return typed R-E-T-U-R-N and not ever miss a beat, blow up, get mad. He was one of the great assets that Muse Software had. His name was Marty Amberg.
Eventually, the commune broke up. Marty had to find an apartment. Six weeks later, he quit in disgust. Just goes to show you, the value of some alternative lifestyles, I think.
Super-Text itself was needing revision by now. All these printer and interface combinations had produced great need for such things as definable PC sequences, and special parameter setting programs.
Super-Texts II was our next project out. It came out just about the same time Castle Wolfenstein came out. We simplified a lot. For one thing, we assumed that you had a lower-case chip and a Shift-Key Mod.
We also allowed you to switch printing so that you could print form or sheet feed. That is, it would stop and wait for you to put in the next page if you asked for it. We built very complex systems of page headers and footers, and we started adding modules.
At first, we had only a print module, which would print out your text, and a math module, which would act like a little spreadsheet and do some arithmetic on your text.
We were also working on a terminal module. Which would enable you to send your text over the phone. That didn't get too far, because we had problems with the different type of modems in use. The DC Hayes Micro Modem, which we were using internally, had one command set.
The DC Hayes Smart Modem, which was coming out at the same time, had another commands. Later on, it turned out of course, that the micro modem command set was not Haze compatible. The smartphone command set became standard.
There were other modem standards that were coming out at the time. To complicate things, our smart modem broke down. We called up DC Hayes technical support to get it fixed. DC Hayes technical support turned out to be in fact, DC Hayes. His first name was Dennis.
This gives you an idea of what the microcomputer business was like at that time. It wasn't that way for long. We had to move once again.
There have been changes in our company. Jim Black had one final fight with Ed Zaron and left. His, by now-wife, Valarie also left.
However, we managed to get hold of a remarkable man, who had been in the toy business. His name was Pete Bavarus. Pete Bavarus was with us through all the successful years of Muse and was probably responsible for our success. This was proved much later on.
From now on, the story of Muse begins to divert the weight from the apple. The Commodore 64 came out at $399. Within a year it was $99. Within two years it was $49. The resultant explosion of computer ownership meant that the Apple could no longer be our primary marketplace.
From now on we started designing things for the Commodore 64. Our Apples were still in use. As I say, assembly things on a Commodore 64 isn't fun. Our Apples were our primary programming tools, but the Commodore 64 increasingly became our bread and butter.
We converted Castle Wolfenstein both to Atari and Commodore. We also converted Super-Text to Commodore where it became very successful. Some of our own internal Commodore projects included Smart Start, which was a nice little operating system.
Very simple, but close to GEOS in spirit, except that it fit into this space in the Commodore 64 behind the BASIC and therefore could be made invisible unless you wanted to use it.
One, there were a couple of products which came out on the Apple beyond that point, but the only product that was important for the Apple, that Muse Software produced after that, was the final result of Appilot. Remember Appilot, our educational language? It worked excellently.
By now, we enhanced it with high-risk characters, with different modules for input and output devices. We added some special modules. We wrote some programs and the result was Know Your Apple. Know Your Apple came out in beginning of 1984.
It filled a niche that Apple dealers all over the country were demanding be filled. When somebody got an Apple, they wanted a tutorial to tell them what it did and how to work with it. Know Your Apple filled that need.
Everybody knew that Apple Computer themselves was working on some kind of tutorial for the Apple, but Know Your Apple came out first. Know Your Apple was a continuous success, largely because we had the Appilot language ready to do this project.
When we completed it, Apple Presents Apple came out about five months later that same year and Know Your Apple sales did not go to zero.
All over computer stores all over the country, we were hearing the computer store people were saying, "If you really want to know the insides of your Apple inside and out and how to program and how to do everything with it, then you can get Apple Presents Apple. But if you just want to use it, pick up Know Your Apple and you'll have enough to know to work with it."
The death of Muse Software was sudden and quite unexpected. Pete Bavarus who have been our sales manager, who had managed our growth through the 64 market finally decided that he could do better on his own and left us.
The man we hired back, I won't give his name, he came from the consumer electronics business. He was every bit as smart and every bit as enthusiastic as Pete Bavarus had been.
But he had one fatal flaw, and I mean fatal. He had AIDS. He had gotten it by blood transfusion, he had an operation and had blood transfusion.
The symptoms started showing up almost as soon as he came on board with us. By nine months later, he was unable to work and had to be let go.
With the demise of our marketing department, our company was going full blast straight ahead. We had developed a number of wonderful new products on the Commodore 64. We were developing an even better word processor for the Apple using Protoss.
But by that time we had no sales. None at all. Developing products is not very good when you have nothing to support it.
All at once, in the announcement that our company had to cut back, quit, the entire development department was fired except for myself, but I knew that the financial situation was such that we wouldn't survive much longer. I left, and two weeks later, the company filed for Chapter 7.
That's not Chapter 11, reorganization bankruptcy. That's sell the assets, close the doors, lock it up. Party's over.
Muse's assets went to a jobber, a reseller of various trinkets in [inaudible 51:02] . His name was Jerry Herskowitz. He operated under the name of Variety Discounters. For a couple of years. He sold out the remaining stock of Muse products.
Then the stock was gone. It was just a sideline for him. Muse basically died quietly in about 1987. Any questions?
Audience Member: How did Beyond Castle Wolfenstein get inspiration?
Silas: It became fairly obvious that we were going to need a sequel to it. That was in 1985.
Audience Member: You didn't mention this.
Audience Member: You never mentioned it.
Silas: I didn't, because I was not heavily involved in Beyond Castle Wolfenstein. That project was carried largely by some of our other people, by [inaudible 52:24] and Eric Ace. Routines that I had were used again. We sat down and defined what we were going to call "destroy the fuel" in a conference...
Silas: ...over a period of a week. Ed went around several times with the design document -- that product was designed the way products are designed today -- with a document, and designers, and programmers. Of course, we didn't have artists on our staff at that time. Had we gone past 1985, we probably would have added artists to our staff.
But while Beyond Castle Wolfenstein was proceeding, I personally was doing mostly Know Your Apple and also the conversion of Castle to the Commodore 64. Yeah?
Audience Member: Out of curiosity, why didn't you get a...? It was International Grand Prix during his copy protection. Because in those days, it was great fun to...because it seemed to me, if I remember right, this was covered to bring the [inaudible 53:17] so it could have two or three games on a disk.
It was our goal, if you go to a swap meet and you find a box of name-brand disks for under two bucks, tax included. It was worthwhile to pack as many games as you could get ...
Silas: I'll talk a bit about the Muse copy protection because I was involved in that. Our philosophy with the copy protection was simply to build a copying system, build a protection system that could not be copied by standard DOS copy.
We knew that we could spend months on end devising endlessly more complicated and elaborate protection systems. All we would do would be to cause people like you to spend months on end devising endlessly more complicated and elaborate cracking systems.
Silas: We figured that the race just wasn't worth it, that the hackers out there were going to get their copies of our software no matter what we did. Our goal was simply to keep the casual user from being able to put our disk in standard casual type copy program, and copy it.
Audience Member: [inaudible 54:58] some another name.
Silas: No. He just built his own special system for International Grand Prix. But, it was a great problem for us, because we sent our disks out to be copied, but we also had what we internally called check disks. They were disks, that we had built ourself, copied on Apples on the basement, and booted.
We used check disks, for instance, to send to reviewers. we used check disks to send to people whose disks had blown. We just make extra sure with those disks.
Most of our stuff we can just copy on standard copy system that we developed internally, on our Apples. Richard Orban's International Grand Prix prerequired special re-settings in all our Apples before we could copied. We have to go back and realign the disk drives and so forth before we could copy.
Audience Member: What was the evolution of, you started to say about how [inaudible 56:33] .
Silas: Well, you can talk to the folks who did it. Actually, what happened is that a few months ago, I got a call from some producers who wanted to create Castle Wolfenstein 3D. They wanted to build a new version of Castle Wolfenstein using modern technology.
Actually, I have seen their product, and it's very, very impressive on an IBM. It's an IBM program. I'm sure if you beg and plead hard enough, they might want to do a 2GS version, but I don't know.
Audience Member: There is. I was going to ask you about the GS version.
Silas: I don't believe there is a GS version.
Audience Member: Binder somewhere...
Audience Member: [inaudible 56:54] .
Silas: We were originally going to do a 3D design Castle Wolfenstein for the Macintosh, but basically that went by the wayside when the Commodore 64 absorbed all our time and energy.
Tom Weishaar: We have time for one more question.
Audience Member: Very nice, [inaudible 57:14] reviews, but what kind of sales did you have?
Silas: At the top of our peak, our sales went to 6 million a year. That was our peak. That was 1984 and 1985. Like I say, 1984, with a good marketing department, we had six million a year. In 1985 with no marketing department, we had zero.
In fact, we had less than zero, because Toys "R" Us were returning all the Commodore 64 products.
Audience Member: How many [inaudible 57:56] was that?
Silas: At 5 million dollars, typically, our dealer price was...Remember, our software prices were then about $39.95, so our dealer price would be a little under $20 a unit. You can figure it from there.
Tom Weishaar: Well, Silas, thank you.