APX: From Atari to Amiga

An idea from another era that could greatly help commercial and shareware developers, users, and the Amiga platform in general

By Paul Somerfeldt, Contributing Editor, See staff list for e-mail address

Several months ago I wrote an editorial that I have since requested not be published. Not because I didn't like what I said, but because after a conversation with Mike, I thought I would expand on it. Unfortunately, it has been 4 months, and I have yet to expand on it. The other day I saw something interesting on the Amiga Web Directory that covers one of the things I was going to say. So here is that part of what I was going to say.

Over the past several months I have been reviewing my old Atari magazines and memorabilia. I have also been reading with some regularity the newsgroups. During all this I was reminded of the APX - the Atari Program Exchange.

Back in the early Eighties, Atari knew they couldn't afford to spend the time to develop software, mainly because they really didn't know what a computer was, even though they made a very good one. They started APX as a way to get their hands on some cash, without really having to spend any. Users would write the software, and Atari would market them under the APX label. (If you ever saw the movie 'True Stories,' the computer nerd in the movies is carrying boxes of APX software.) Everybody won, as Atari basically got free money, the programmers got cash, and the users got software they may not have seen otherwise. Some kid even wrote a newspaper route tracking program. Where would you see that today?

Well, today you see that in the shareware world. Try a program, and if you like it, send the author money, and you get a disk, or a keyfile, and your program works in all its glory. Problem is, these days most of the interesting authors are based in Europe, or have not been heard from in a while, so it may be difficult or impossible to contact the authors, let alone pay them. Following this concept, I thought it might not be a bad idea for Gateway to begin a new APX, Amiga Program Exchange. This entity would be a clearinghouse for shareware. It really would not have to be responsible for the content or quality of the programs, but the users would win because we wouldn't have to figure out how to write Eurocheques, or things like that. Or worse, send cash.

Then I saw this on the AWD:

JDW Developments Announces Shareware Marketing Services for Amiga Authors


JDW Developments would like to issue an invitation to shareware and commercial authors.

We are now accepting submissions for Amiga Shareware and Commercial software.

JDW Developments was established in 1987 as a software development firm. We have always used Amigas in our efforts to provide local business people with inexpensive, yet powerful software options.

In 1995 we began to handle mail-order for smaller clients. On April 19, 1998 it was decided that we would help budding Amiga developers get their shareware products to market, and have access to various payment options. We can accept credit cards for mail orders.

We are extending our services to you with only very small fees. And we provide other promotional services as well.

Please contact us for more information:

Jeffrey D. Webster
JDW Developments

(At this point I must say that I, nor, to my knowledge, does anyone else affiliated with this magazine have anything to do with this company.)

I don't know whether this group works on an international basis, but it seems to me that to make this concept work for the Amiga, you would have to be able to work on an international basis.

The current basis for the Amiga software development is conducted by what seems to be fewer than 20 companies, yet most all of us use shareware or freeware of some sort. I can think of at least a dozen shareware items that I really want to register, but can't seem to be able to act on that as it requires dealing with foreign finances. When the developers make it easy for me, I can register without problem. I have used First Virtual to register MUI and VoyagerNG. Both keyfiles were e-mailed to me within 72 hours. To me that is far preferable to sending cash to Germany, and waiting for a disk to be shipped back over to the US by return mail. A turnaround that I have heard takes something on the order of 3 to 6 months. All this to deal with a developer that may or may not still support the product.

If this company is honorable, and offers decent rates, I think all developers should consider using his service. There is a better chance I would deal with him, or someone like him, before trying to use international mail and finances to buy something. Of course, I think Gateway/Amiga should consider setting up their own version of APX, as I find it easier to trust a company I have heard of before.

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