written by Matthew Reed

October 1978 issue of SoftSide

October 1978 issue of SoftSide

SoftSide was a popular computer magazine that covered multiple computer platforms, including the TRS-80, Apple II, Atari, Commodore 64, and IBM PC. But when Roger Robitaille published the first issue in October 1978, SoftSide focused on only one computer: the TRS-80 Model I.

That first issue, which identified itself as “your BASIC software magazine,” began with this statement:

There are those who might say we’ve got rocks in our heads for starting another computer magazine in the first place. We even wondered about it ourselves—but only for a minute.

Personal computing has taken a new direction. The technological wonder of the early ‘70’s has come out of the basement workshop and into the living room. People are coming to look upon the computer less as the ultimate machine, the hobby in itself, and more as the tool, the medium, the vehicle for the real stars—our ideas and imagination.

Our intention is to publish software—and lots of it, free for the transcription. Every month we will offer programs for business, games, programs with household applications, even educational programs for children that will allow your home computer to become the educational aid we always knew it could be. Our content will be as diverse and unique as our featured program’s writers.

It is our hope that SoftSide will be viewed not as just “another computer magazine,” but as a different kind of magazine, the first dedicated to the most intriguing facet of computing today, that side which allows us to realize our expectations, our fantasies, our dreams.

In its earliest issues, SoftSide published mostly BASIC programs submitted by readers. Some of those programs became quite popular and SoftSide Publications published several books of programs called The Best of SoftSide. It also sold software through the TRS-80 Software Exchange or TSE (later renamed The Software Exchange).

In 1979, SoftSide Publications created a new magazine for TRS-80 programmers named PROG-80. In January 1980, they also created a companion magazine to SoftSide for Apple users named AppleSeed. After some pressure from Apple Computer, that name was changed to SoftSide: Apple Edition and the original SoftSide was renamed SoftSide: S-80 Edition.

July 1983 issue of SoftSide

July 1983 issue of SoftSide

In August 1980, both PROG-80 and SoftSide: Apple Edition were folded back into SoftSide: S-80 Edition, which reverted to its original name. Another big change was that SoftSide was printed as a full-sized magazine, rather than the digest format that had been used up to that point. As they put it:

The best little BASIC computer magazine is becoming the best FULLSIZE BASIC computer magazine! Starting with our very next issue, your troubles are over. No longer will you eagerly reach for the latest issue of SOFTSIDE only to find you’ve grabbed the TV Guide by mistake.

In addition to the Apple II, Atari content was also added to SoftSide with the August 1980 issue. The platform specific content was eventually labeled within the magazine as TRS-80 Side, Apple Side, and Atari Side. Later additions were PC Side (for the IBM PC) in 1983 and Commodore Side in 1984.

Later issues of SoftSide published mostly reviews, news, and general purpose articles, rather than BASIC programs. The February 1984 issue of SoftSide was the first with no TRS-80 content at all. There was at least one more issue published, but SoftSide was finished by at least August 1984.

Categories: Magazines