[SIGCIS-Members] Company archives of 1980s-1990s computer game companies?

Laine Nooney laine.nooney at gmail.com
Sun Sep 9 07:01:46 PDT 2018

I'll let the museum folks on the list speak to there own holdings, but in
my estimation the key figure in the American history of software piracy,
from the industry perspective, is Kenneth Wasch, who founded and
administrated the Software Publishers Association beginning in the
early-mid 80s. One of their founding agendas was to deal with software
piracy and they were responsible for the Open Letter to Sysops printed in
Compute and a couple other computer enthusiast magazines in the mid 80s. As
far as I know, no one has done an oral history with Wasch and the SPA's
papers haven't been collected.

I was first turned onto the SPA from materials in Doug Carlston's papers at
the Strong (Doug held an executive role in the organization). The stuff in
his papers is amazing--details of correspondence with the FBI, accounts of
undercover stings Wasch did on computer retail shops, info on legal threats
made to kids running local piracy operations. Chances are if there was any
cooperation btw US and European organizations with regard to piracy, it
would have gone through the SPA (especially since the SPA's audit was all
consumer software, not just games).

If you want to try and get ahold of Wasch, or chat about any of this
further, drop me an email off last.


On Sun, Sep 9, 2018, 12:53 AM Gleb J. Albert <gleb.albert at uzh.ch> wrote:

> Dear colleagues and list members,
> This is a question that has kept me busy for quite some time, yet I am
> afraid I might have missed some crucial bit of information, and this is
> why I would like to address it to you.
> Are there any preservation institutions (archives, museums etc., apart
> from The Strong Museum / National Museum of Play in Rochester/NY) that
> host either company archives of computer game companies or personal
> papers of people involved in the production and marketing of home
> computer games in the 1980s and early 1990s?
> As I already mentioned on this list back in February, I am doing a
> post-doc research project on the transnational history of
> (non-commercial, low scale) home computer games piracy before the mass
> availability of the Internet, and, of course, the perspective of the
> back-then games industry is crucial in this question. Of course, the
> industry back then was extremely volatile - when companies went
> bankrupt, the last thing they thought about was preserving their
> archives (in the case of Psygnosis, for example, as far as I know
> everything was simply dumped). And those very few 1980s companies which
> are still active are very seclusive about their archives (which is
> sort-of understandable, given the retromania of today and their possible
> hopes of reviving/porting old titles).
> Nevertheless, the papers of Broderbund, Sierra On-Line, and a couple of
> other companies luckily ended up at The Strong - and to my knowledge,
> this is the only public institution that hosts materials like these. But
> maybe I missed some essential info? Are there any other holdings I am
> not aware of, particularly concerning the European games industry?
> I would be very thankful for any hints (as well as for contacts to
> former game studio and/or publisher/distributor folks who still might
> have kept their business papers).
> Best wishes,
> Gleb
> --
> Dr. Gleb J. Albert
> Historisches Seminar, Universität Zürich
> Forschergruppe "Medien und Mimesis"
> Universität Zürich
> Historisches Seminar
> Culmannstr. 1
> CH-8006 Zürich
> Switzerland
> Tel. +41-446346187
> <http://uzh.academia.edu/GlebJAlbert>
> <http://www.fg-mimesis.de>
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Laine Nooney <http://www.lainenooney.com/>

MCC <http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/mcc/> @ NYU <http://www.nyu.edu/>
Assistant Professor

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