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high voltage

So if homebrews made by fans/users/wotnot ....

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So if 'homebrews' made by home programmers/fans/users/wotnot and whoever, are way back, type-in listings from users for Apple 2, A8, C64, also homebrews?

Edited by high voltage

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I think so.  They got published in a bit different way, but otherwise many of them were literally written at home or on an ad-hoc basis.

 

I suppose some may be called something more, being works for hire.

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Personally I would limit homebrews to software released past the commercial period of a system, plus all homemade software for current formats  that doesn't get published in another way. That means type-ins, user group software, BBS downloads, public domain etc from the 80's are exactly that, but not "homebrew" to me. Strictly put, I believe the term originated for console games where it was difficult to make your own programs and even more so to load them onto your system. When it comes to computer programs, those were more accessible from day 1 so not as much "code breaking" to get your own software to run.

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For absolutely no reason based on anything in particular, I always considered a homebrew to be software for a console (not a computer) produced by someone at home.

 

I always considered computer software to be PD, shareware, or commercial depending on it's distribution.  And I considered magazine software to be PD, even tho I am sure it was the property of the magazine most likely.

 

Not sure why; just how I thought about it.

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I didn't really think about this until the question was posed here. And my first thought actually was goofy little games that I would write along with friends and we would share and play with one another. It's not unlike the homebrew scene today.

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If you think about it, the whole reason the computers included BASIC was to home brew your own software.
But I think the title refers more to recent releases that are sold today.

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Agreed.  The spirit I'd similar though.  I won't choke on someone using the term homebrew in the context of many type in, or look what I did, stuff.

 

And how far we have come!  Making your own software is not a selling point.

 

But, doing it?  Tools all over the place!

 

 

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I always say that some stuff made past the commercial period of a system is homebrew. Yes. Way past. Like 2nd renaissance stuff. Think Atari VCS stuff being made in the early 2000's and onward.

 

Things developed and delivered via printouts, magazines, newsletters, tutorial book examples, BBS downloads, user group disks & tapes, hobbyist creations, factory run APX  clubs or "Library Exchanges".. All of it.. Whatever was done back in the day.. All of the then contemporary period stuff was simply known to us as type-ins or public-domain.

 

Professional & commercial usually meant going to a computer shop and buying it. Or pirating it. Baggie or box - that didn't matter. But having a big company name made it "more" professional & commercial.

 

Homebrew seems to be a modern term. We never used it back then. Not in my circles anyway. Today's definition of "homebrew" means "commercial-like". And that includes an attempt to market it or make it available in professional-like manner. This usually means good documentation, art, and packaging where appropriate. A clear start date, like announcing a new game is coming. And a clear end, like when a cartridge or ROM is made available. A complete mini-production. It can be free or paid-for.

 

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There's also shareware, freeware, and payware. Terms which were popularized in the PC eco-sphere. They were/are also completely independent of production size or distribution method. Could be done by a one man gig or a mutli-billion-dollar studio. Could be on physical media or download or streaming.

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The term homebrew in computing goes back to 1975 and the very start of home computers.  At that time software was shared freely until Bill Gates ruined everything with his copyright talk.  Before that, software programmed on mainframes at educational institutions were freely exchanged but not called homebrews.

 

I consider a homebrew to be anything done as a hobby.  There have always been professional and work for hire stuff done at home, but they are not homebrews.  The atari program exchange wasn't a new concept.  Digital equipment corporation, in the 1960s, had Decus and the decus software library, but it was freely distributed.  APX seemed like a way for atari to make money off homebrewers but it didn't work out that way.  I think the homebrewers got more out of it than atari did which is why atari shut it down.

Edited by mr_me

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There was also PPE personal program exchange, forget which company and machine it was for. The scientific calculator scene was pretty big on selling and trading programs this way too.

 

And Apple did something called The Apple Tapes early on, and Special Delivery Software later. Though SDS offerings were much fewer and bigger.

 

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It's almost like the name we give it denotes the era it's frome

 

Type-in:  pre-internet, pre-BBS for the most part.   Books and magazines were the cheapest, easiest way to get your programs out.

 

Shareware/Freeware, etc:  BBS days.   Like my program?   Send me $5.   You don't have to pay, but this notice will annoy you until you do :)

 

Commercial Demo:  Early Internet.   Many games like Doom/Wolfenstein were distributed by indy publishers free with the first few levels playable.  If you want the rest of the game, you pay full price.   Also there seemed like hobbyists made more effort to get emulators working during this time than they did on new games development.

 

Homebrew:  current era.   Emphasis on making games that meet or exceed the quality of commercial games when the system was viable, including professional packaging and media.   Anybody can run credit cards making payments easier than ever.   The fans are older and have money to spend now, unlike the teens of the shareware era who never paid you :)

Edited by zzip

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8 hours ago, high voltage said:

Amazing answers.

 

So way back Atari APX was sort of ahead of its time.

Totally.  Or maybe in time, but notable. 

 

Soft disk comes to mind too.  There were others.  

Edited by potatohead

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33 minutes ago, potatohead said:

There were others.

Nibble. Call A.P.P.L.E. And to a lesser extent Hardcore Computing / Computist.

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For me "homebrew" will always represent the non-commercially oriented content from the console hacking/coding scene which arose somewhere around PSP era and continues since then. It has started earlier, perhaps with SNES, or maybe even some earlier consoles, but I suppose PSP was its peak time (see this interesting poll on GBAtemp.).

 

Wikipedia has a definition, and I largerly agree with it - as they say amateur programs written for micro- and "normal" computers have other names, be it "hobbyist" as they say, my favourite "bedroom coded', or modern "indie".

 

I know of course there are commercial homebrew programs as well, but for me this term associates best with the free ones.

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With very few exceptions, the bigger a company became the less I liked what they were producing. Electronic Arts, Epyx, and Activision are good examples. Loved their early 8-bit productions, and some 16-bit material. But as time went on that became less so. Today I don't have interest in anything from them.

 

Most all homebrews don't follow that trend. And that's great!

 

 

 

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Epyx went out of business in 1993, so you won't have to bother about any new games from them. System 3 licensed a few Epyx titles for remakes but apparently don't own the rights fully.

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14 hours ago, carlsson said:

Epyx went out of business in 1993, so you won't have to bother about any new games from them.

So all the time I spent waiting for Pitstop III has been for naught?  😭

Edited by zzip
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As far as I can tell, the Epyx trademark was renewed as recently as late September 2020, though Bridgestone Multimedia Group have zero content on their website about it.

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Homebrew has derogatory connotations like PD or shareware program collections.

 

Type-ins were often pretty good quality games or other software from "power users" who were accomplished programmers.

 

If the software wasn't so good it would get shoveled into a PD collection.

 

Sometimes some of this would get marketed when it should not have but usually there was a hierarchy as follows:

 

PD shareware shovelware (worst)

Type-ins in less popular Computer magazines

Type-ins in leading Computer magazines

subscription software 

Third party software (best)

 

Homebrew released today correspond similarly though packaging is often mismatched.

 

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There were many times I parsed through a shareware CD (or magazine disks & discs) to discover something new or just to try something out. So not entirely bad at all.

 

Homebrews, like anything else, have to be sifted through to find the worthwhile stuff.

 

But subscription software. That's bad all the way around. No matter what angle you look from. And I avoid it like the plague.

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Keatah said:

There were many times I parsed through a shareware CD (or magazine disks & discs) to discover something new or just to try something out. So not entirely bad at all.

 

Homebrews, like anything else, have to be sifted through to find the worthwhile stuff.

 

But subscription software. That's bad all the way around. No matter what angle you look from. And I avoid it like the plague.

 

 

 

No I meant the subscription software model from the 80's where you could actually buy a subscription to some of the larger computer magazines on Tape or Disk for specific home computers as well as from vendors who specialized in subscription software.

 

You would receive a new tape or disk every month full of programs, including quality games and utilities.

 

Because these vendors had no printing press overhead and only the cost of mailing a cheap Disk or slightly more expensive cassette these early subscription models had the room to pay programmers better fees or royalties generally resulting in higher quality games than the magazines.

 

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9 hours ago, Mr SQL said:

No I meant the subscription software model from the 80's where you could actually buy a subscription to some of the larger computer magazines on Tape or Disk for specific home computers as well as from vendors who specialized in subscription software.

 

You would receive a new tape or disk every month full of programs, including quality games and utilities.

 

Because these vendors had no printing press overhead and only the cost of mailing a cheap Disk or slightly more expensive cassette these early subscription models had the room to pay programmers better fees or royalties generally resulting in higher quality games than the magazines.

 

I subscribed to a cassette only magazine called Chromasette for a year.
As a bonus, they included a complete accounting system written in BASIC.
There were quite a few good programs, but quality varied a lot.

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I never subscribed and feel I should have.  Seems like overall good experience.  Each month, period, the new stuff shows up.  That's nice.

 

For me, I was either saving up money from odd jobs to buy the few programs I really wanted, or copy parties and those were mostly games.

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