An informal confederation of computer software designers, known as "The Brotherhood," formed during the late 1970s. The group began as a result of the members' mutual interest in microcomputer software development and their geographic proximity along the West Coast of the United States. Their contribution to computer graphics and games was significant in the development of more advanced systems.
Interviewees were Douglas Carlston, Ken and Roberta Williams, Margot Comstock, Jerry Jewell, and Dave Albert. Douglas Carlston wrote Software People in 1985 to document the role of "The Brotherhood" in the microcomputer industry. Carlston, a lawyer, was "bitten by the computer bug" in 1979 and began writing programs as a hobbyist. After the commercial success of his first two games, Galactic Empire and Galactic Trader, Carlston quit his practice and co-founded Broderbund Software, Inc., with his brother Gary in 1980.
Ken and Roberta Williams founded On-Line Systems in 1980 and achieved success with their creation of the first adventure/mystery games with graphics, Mystery House and later The Wizard and the Princess. In 1982, they became known as Sierra On-Line and continued to focus on games and educational software for the Apple Computer.
Margot Comstock began the journal Softalk with Al Tommervik in Los Angeles on September 12, 1980. Comstock had been hired by a small software publisher, Softape, to publish their in-house newsletter, when she transformed it into a national full-scale magazine for Apple owners. The magazine reviewed software, tracked industry news and listed the monthly top thirty best-selling computer programs.
In 1980, Jerry Jewell was working as a Computerland store manager in Sacramento, California. Less than a year later, he and partner Terry Bradley were in charge of the multimillion-dollar Sirius Software Company founded on the games of programmer Nasir Gebelli. Sirius Software was noted for its meteoric rise and fall in the games market bonanza of the early 1980s. Dave Albert, a journalism major from the University of Iowa, worked as an editor for Softside magazine. The magazine prompted its original editor, Mark Pelczarski, to form the Penguin Software Company in DeKalb, Illinois, in 1981. Albert joined Penguin as a software publisher for the Apple II-inspired graphics and animation tools and games which the company produced. Albert later moved to Electronic Arts, an educational and game software house.