The vanished Canadian company, Software Magic   6 comments

For my next game I was going to be writing about a Canadian game, but I wanted to get a mystery out of the way first: the company Software Magic, which sold TRS-80 software but has almost no Internet presence whatsoever.

It first pokes its head out early in 1982 with ads for “Potions”; here’s one from Computronics, March, 1982:

Later the same year, starting at least by October they started advertising a catalog you could get for $1 with “adventure, simulation, D&D and arcade programs”. The November edition of 80-U.S. in particular advertised the adventure games Lunar Mission and Marooned in Time.

Dale Dobson over at Gaming after 40 is the only person in the entire history of the Internet who seems to have ever had any encounter with them, as he somehow obtained the spring 1983 edition of the $1 catalog in his younger years. The entire catalog — just a few pages — is at the link above.

There are 16 products listed; 3 of them are adventure games: Gods of Mt. Olympus, Marooned in Time, and Lunar Mission. Based on the ad I showed earlier at least two of those were from 1982.

Out of all sixteen games, none of them are available in any archive. All have vanished. What makes this more distressing is that other than the French Canadian house Logidisque there doesn’t seem to be any earlier companies in Canada devoted to publishing games; in other words, what was quite possibly the first English-language Canadian videogame publisher is a ghost.

I’ll get into the Canadian-made adventure game we do have a copy of next time; this seemed like too big a side mention to put into a footnote. Also, I wanted the faint possibility that someone in the future who recognizes the name Software Magic might happen across this post via Internet search and enlighten us in the comments what happened with them.

Posted April 10, 2023 by Jason Dyer in Video Games

6 responses to “The vanished Canadian company, Software Magic

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  1. Yeah, Dale popped the game entries into CASA. It’s always a real shame to see instances where none of the releases seem to have survived from a company. I think the earliest Software Magic advert I’ve seen was in the December 1981 issue of Computing Today… where the prices were both in Canadian Dollars and, because it’s a UK publication, Sterling! There’s various adverts, reviews and magazine mentions between 1981 and 1983 but after that, like you say, they seem to vanish. Working out of a Bramalea post office address means it’s difficult to do any detective work.

  2. There is also this from the January 1982 edition of Interface Age.
    And this from 80 Microcomputing in January 1983 featuring short reviews of Marooned In Time and Lair Of Evil.

    • Always nice to see a review! (if nothing else, occasionally a company advertises a product that is actually vaporware, so this means that at least two of their games really existed … although with that big a catalog, I figured they had to be out there somewhere)

  3. Pingback: Fantasyland (1982) | Renga in Blue

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