When I first waxed poetic about Beagle Bros on our web site,
I feared I might be talking into
a vacuum of computer users and programmers who no longer remembered or cared about "The Good Ol' Days."
We've all gotten so wrapped up in our megahertz and megabytes as we stampede madly into the future,
that many of us have lost sight of our roots. Maybe we'd all just come to accept huge, slow software
that tries to be everything for all people.
But I had no reason to be concerned, as more than a handful of people have stepped
forward to say "Thanks for the memories!" There is apparently still plenty of Beagle Spirit in the world.
If you have a Beagle Bros
or Apple II related memory or story, why not share it with the rest of us? Not so we stay mired in the
past, but to keep the present in perspective, and to make sure we don't lose the explorative creativity
and humanity in computing to the more prevelant "corporate" mindset of today.
Email me your best, and I'll add it to this page, for all other
Beagle Fans to enjoy!
Drew Farris writes:
"I remember being a kid, and rushing to the computer when the
new copy of softtalk came. I would always find the beagle bros.
ad and enter any little code snippets in it into my apple //+ to
see what sort of new strange trick I could make the machine do.
"I also [enjoyed] writing tons of tiny programs to fiddle with each of
the peeks and pokes on the famous peeks & pokes chart you'd get
with each piece of Beagle Bros. software you bought.
"I loved Apple Mechanic! I wrote all sorts of little games
using sprites I created in the shape editor."
Steve Craft writes:
One thing that was always remarkable about Beagle Bros stuff was that it
"did things" with the ][ that I never thought possible. Using GPLE was
like using a computer inside the computer. The Beagle Compiler made my
AppleSoft stuff really take off. And don't get me started on how many
hours I spent playing Beagle Bag....
Without Beagle Bros, the other platforms of the day (C64, Atari,
etc.) might have had a chance at competing with the ][. Then again, I
doubt it, but Beagle Bros made using the ][ *fun*.
Scott Puhl writes:
As a 4th grader new to the world of computers,
the inner workings of the TRS-80 and Apple II
were great mysteries rivaling anything else I would
encounter in my small-town existence.
When my family got an Apple IIe, and my summer
afternoons involved shape tables more than baseball,
Beagle Brothers were the mystics giving me a glimpse
into the potential of the programming universe with their
phenomenal one-liners. Every Beagle Bros add was
a combination artwork and programming reference;
and, every piece of software was another book in
my Bible. PEEK and POKE experiences, with a
bit of influence from OMNI magazine, nearly turned
my perception of the cosmos into a numerology
driven state machine.
With the beginning of high school, however, I fell
prey to the twin evils of girls and skateboarding.
My digital life was put on hold for a decade. Now, as
a professional programmer, I am still searching for
a guru of equivalence to what Beagle Bros had been.
I have traveled from simple PEEK tone generation,
to DSP with C++ and Java; but, I still crave a cryptic
one-liner that will channel psychedelic spirits through
my modern day miracle machine.
Kevin Radziwon writes:
After a recent conversation about facial hair (and my associates
resemblance to a certain logo related to a cough suppressant) nostalgia
set in and I started thinking about all the great stuff included with
those old Beagle Bros software packages. Image my delight when I found
your wonderful tribute to the pioneers that helped make the early Apple
computing experience so great. I owned all of the original Beagle
products, two of which I never really used but I had to have the
manuals, catalogs and charts... (ok, perhaps that was a bit silly).
GPLE, D-Code, DoubleTake, ExtraK, Big U, Dos Boss... I remember spending
hours setting up hybrid boot disks that would load either Dos 3.3 or
ProDos and all my favorite programming tools (maybe I should've used
some of the time to actually write some programs...). Can't even begin
to guess the number of times ProByter came in handy.
Those were great days and great people. Apple Computer and Beagle Bros
started many of us on the road to careers in computing and technology by
sharing the inner workings of the hardware and software. Remember the
form of copy protection they used? Deliver a great product at a
reasonable price and trust the customers to keep you in business. Wonder
where we'd be right now if someone else had been dominant in those
Eric Jorgensen writes:
Here are some memories for your legacy page:
1) Call -??? and your Apple ][ will moo. Sometimes once, sometimes
twice, sometimes not at all. This is by far my favorite Beagle memory.
The fact that the Apple ][ mooed at all was cool in itself, but that
someone actually tinkered around enough to stumble onto this fact was
just amazing to me. Stuff like that really fueled my interest in
computers as a youngster.
2) The peeks and pokes chart was indispensable to me as a budding
3) I was friends with a fairly notorious cracker. He cracked dozens and
dozens of software titles and gave them freely to anyone and everyone.
When it came to Beagle software, however, he never gave away copies
because Beagle did not copy-protected any of their stuff and actually
trusted the users to be honest.
Thanks for the memories. The world could use more companies like Beagle
David Gershon writes:
I loved the two-liner contest. I wrote many two-line programs for Uncle
Louie's 0.5K Apple II. In fact, two of my programs won the contest. I
think Beagle Brothers still owes me some free software.
C. K. Kirk writes:
I'm 76 going on 77. My first was a II+ then a IIe then a IIGS.
I went to a show intent to buy. At the office we had a machine, I think from
Xerox that you programmed with switches. Once I got the hang of it I was
amazed at what you could do. I think Atari was the newest boy on the block,
so I asked our resident computer whiz what to do. "Wait", he said, "Apple is
coming out with what you're looking for". Shortly after he confirmed that
the II+ was a "real computer". I bought.
As Apple introduced new products I graduated.
I don't recall when or how I discovered Beagle but the ads were compelling.
When I finally did buy a few products I found them well worth the money. The
Basic compiler opened my eyes to how software more than hardware affected
Beagle was a wonderful experience and Kersey deserves a long and happy
Ellen Brundige writes:
I was um.
11. I think
We had an Apple ][ with 48K RAM *gasp* and it was a wonder to behold! And the Bible to our Apple, the key to unlock its secrets, was the Beagle Brothers chart upon the wall. Or maybe that was for the //e. Anyway. It taught me all the wonders of PEEK and POKE and why DOS ate my disk when I accidentally forgot a minus sign on POKE. It told us how to make the computer moo like a cow, "Sometimes once, sometimes twice, and sometimes not at all". CALL -768, wasn't it? I think my Mom's handle, which she uses to this day, is from some one-liner program in a BB catalog: ASCII Annie. I had a dead diskette stuck to the side of my filing cabinet by a magnet, the appropriate "never do this" icon on the disk warning label thoughtfully highlighted with a yellow marker. And I remember many frantic months trying to delete just one more space, one more extraneous command to finish an entry for the one-liner contests. And when I was very small-- 11, I mean--I thought Flo Chart was real.
And what about that diagram of a computer's innards with a row of meowing cats? I would love to see more pictures from the old ads. PC users, you poor deprived souls, you never knew programming could be such fun. :)
Mike Poletynski writes:
Looking back at Beagle Bros heyday is not so much a visit to the
past as it was, in hindsight, a vision of the future.
Look at Beagle Bros role in history. I was teaching high school
English and yearbook in Baltimore. Until the Apple II+ and then
IIe, we did journalism on a typewriter. Suddenly there was
Appleworks and everything changed. Appleworks tweaked by a myriad
of Beagle Macro programs allowed us glimpse what would become desktop
publishing. The cash cow that Appleworks became for Apple in the
education market was probably the funding for the Macintosh program and
the rest is history. The superbly irreverent humor of the Beagle Boys
was the forerunner of the "Dummies" books so popular today. They even
had a relational database that I'm reminded of every time I write a new
database for my company in FileMaker Pro. I remember my students
absolute joy every time we got a new Beagle title. The drawings, the
extras, the humor and oh yes, the decals which the kids fought over
because if you walked the halls with a Beagle Bros decal on your binder,
you were part of the cool yearbook staff!
CALL 985 is the moo call! (Tip: remove all disks from the
disk drives before you try this.) The legendary Softalk
magazine once suggested that Bert Kersey was the world's
first software satirist. Looking back, he may well be the
world's ONLY software satirist so far. Considering the
rapid pace of technology, it is truly amazing how well much
of their humor stands the test of time. There may be
higher performance machines and software tools these days,
but I tend to believe software reached its creative peak
with the Beagle Bros. Here are few more reasons you gotta
1. The ads: "MOST APPLE DEALERS carry Beagle Bros
software. If yours doesn't, get on his case." and "GOTO
Your Software Store. If they don't have the Beagle Bros
disks you want, tell them to GET ON THE STICK by phoning
2. The unique style: Who else would rip-off their logo from
a box of cough drops, then put a classic picture of a
mailman uttering the (unexplained) line "Hmm-mm... ANOTHER
package from Beagle Bros... Funny, it doesn't FEEL like
cough drops..." in their catalog?
3. The subtlety: They had utilities which would produced
formatted Basic listings and they would give example output
of these utlities in their ads and catalogs. It was quite a
while before I realized that most of those examples were
not program excerpts, but complete programs which of course
contained the Beagle Bros signature weirdness. And then
there were the seemingly innocent hex dumps. My favorite
was from the cover of one of their catalogs, which had a
classic picture of this fellow sitting in a chair. On the
floor next to him is a handbag with a piece of tractor
paper sticking out. On the paper is a hex dump: 48 45 4C 50
21 20 and so on, which are ASCII codes that spell out the
message: "HELP! GET ME OUT! I'M TRAPPED IN HERE!----SOPHIE"
I was introduced to computing in the late 1970s by my ex-brother-in-law. He took a course somewhere and learned to make his own 4K unit out of spare parts from _real_ computers. He loaded his program from a cassette tape deck. The program only lasted until the power went off or you loaded a new program. I was fascinated with the concept of writing functional code but absolutely stumped about how to go about writing anything useful.
A few years later a fellow fire fighter introduced me to his Apple II. Shortly after that, Apple introduced the IIe. By then I had screwed up the courage to borrow the money to make the purchase, along with a dot-matrix printer. I struggled for quiet sometime to make the damn thing do useful, or even interesting work. My fire buddy passed a few bootleg programs on to me and the world began to make some sense. I purchased a number of paperback books, mostly over-sized, and began the painfully slow process of inputting the code, line by line, character by character. I remember spending about 3 days inputting just one program for some sort of Star Trek program. Another two days of debugging and it was up and running.
I made a number of legitimate purchases, the best of which were from Beagle Bros. Their work was like a giant spotlight on my dark corner of the programming world. The many long nights of code writing didn't really turn out any masterful products, but it taught me discipline and the Beagle Bros showed me opportunity.
I eventually became one of the very few advocates for introducing micro-computers into the fire station. About 1983 they finally got on board, although they chose the IBM format. It was at this juncture that I went over to the dark side and never returned to my beloved Apple roots. I did not have the energy or mental capacity to work in both worlds.
Remembering my lessons from the BB boys I found many applications for the mighty micros in our stations. After promoting, I wrote about a dozen different modules using the dBase III programming language. Although none of the programs I wrote for my fire buddies is still in use today, the FireBudd software is fondly remembered by those "dinosaurs" who were around in the eighties. One lone hobby programmer produced more useful programs than our entire Information Management section.
As a "recreational thinker" I also have BB to thank for my postulations on theories of human thought processing, memory storage, and generational transmission of intelligent information. Although the geneticists are probably still laughing, I know there must be something in DNA's base-4 data strings that closely resembles computer code. If it weren't for BB's many programs giving me insight to how data is stored, retrieved, and cataloged on a serial data stream I would never have wandered down that path. In the words of Louis Pasteur, "Chance favors the mind that is prepared." Thanks Beagle Bros, for preparing so many minds for so many possibilities.