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Sub-Etha Software

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Home / Companies - Sub-Etha Software


Sub-Etha Software

MISSING PHOTO

Name Sub-Etha Software
Year 1990
Location Lufkin, TX
Notes Software company founded by Allen Huffman and Terry Todd in Lufkin, TX.
Info Source Allen Huffman
About the Company Info Box

History

In 1984, Allen Huffman moved from Houston, Texas to the tiny (population 225) town of Broaddus, Texas (about two hours north). The nearest shopping mall (Lufkin Mall) was almost an hour away, and on one weekend, Allen was visiting the Radio Shack in this mall where he met another teenager, Terry Todd. They spent time playing a King's Quest game on a Tandy 1000 computer, with Terry operating the joystick while Allen did the typing.

After graduation in 1987, Allen moved to Lufkin where he once again ran in to Terry. Terry even remembered Allen's name, and as it turned out, had gone to school with a CoCo pen-pal Allen had found through the pages of Rainbow Magazine.

Terry would soon buy his first CoCo (a CoCo 3, which he had before Allen himself upgraded to the new 1986 model). Terry set out to write a bulletin board system, and in the process of doing this, he needed a way to get past the 64K limit of BASIC. He created something he called "Module DOS" which allowed jumping between 8K MMU blocks of BASIC code (and loading/saving between blocks, etc.). It was to be released free but just before uploading to the Hayes BBS, Allen and Terry thought maybe it would be a good product to sell.

This is what the first ad from Sub-Etha was going to look like.

That caused them to come up with the idea for a CoCo software company. The original plan was to take out a "Pot of Gold" sized ad in Rainbow (tiny, business card sized ad) and see what happened. A mock-up was made of an ad for the new company, "42 Technologies" (a reference to the ultimate answer of life, the universe and everything from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series). Before launching, the name would be changed to Sub-Etha Software, and thanks to a good salesperson at Falsoft (publisher of Rainbow), the company would launch with a quarter page ad (typeset by a local print shop so it would look professional).

By the time the ad was to be placed, Allen had managed to turn a two line banner printing routine in to a full program called MiniBanners, and the first advertisement for Sub-Etha Software launched carrying MiniBanners, ShadowBBS and MultiBASIC (formerly known as ModuleDOS).

In a phone conversation with Dave Myers of CoCoPRO, Dave suggested the new company appear at his upcoming Atlanta CoCoFest. Thus, Sub-Etha Software launched at the CoCoFest before the issue of Rainbow Magazine carrying their ad hit newsstands.

Shortly after the CoCoFest, Joel Hegberg would join and operate the "OSK Midwest Division" of Sub-Etha Software from his home in DeKalb, IL. Joel would bring his product, Checkbook+, to RS-DOS and OS-9, then later OS-9/68000 programs for the MM/1.

Products by Carl England (who split the booth with Sub-Etha at the first 1990 Atlanta CoCoFest) would later be added, as well as some others.

Revival

After taking a job at Microware in 1995, Allen had to discontinue Sub-Etha Software due to it being a conflict of interest with his new job. Instead of going to the CoCoFests to sell CoCo and OS-9 programs, it would resurface as Sub-Etha SoftWEAR selling buttons and T-shirts.

Sub-Etha Software returned again around 2000 offering a few simple downloadable PERL scripts for website use.

In 2013, Allen announced he was working on some new CoCo related projects, including the CoCo HID and CoCo Ethernet interfaces.

In late 2014, Allen began working with the CoCoSDC floppy drive interface replacement to create software to help archive and catalog old floppy disks.

Future

Sub-Etha Software plans to return again offering iPhone applications.

Products

Over the years, the product line would slowly grow, and other software by others was distributed.

CoCo RS-DOS

  • InfoPatch - (Terry Todd) A patch to run Infocom text adventures on the CoCo 3 in 80 columns.
  • MiniBanners - (Allen C. Huffman) Print single or multiple line banners on any printer, with many fonts.
  • MultiBASIC - (Terry Todd) Bank in and out BASIC code, to use more than 64K.
  • ShadowBBS - (Terry Todd) Advanced bulletin board software, which made use of Ken "Ultimaterm" Johnsons' serial driver.

CoCo OS-9

  • MiniBanners09 - (Allen C. Huffman) A port of MiniBanners to OS-9. This gave the program the ability to print in the background while the CoCo was in use for other things.
  • MultiBoot - (Terry Todd/Allen C. Huffman) - A utility to allow multiple OS-9 Bootfiles to exist on the same floppy disk. Typing "DOS" would present a list of boots, then the user could select and run using that bootfile. This allowed having boots for MultiVue, Sierra games, etc. on the same disk. Terry did the RS-DOS portion, including the menu system, and Allen did the OS-9 utility that configured the tool.
  • Invaders09 - (Allen C. Huffman) A simple Space Invaders-style game, created after Allen learned of a new system call in NitrOS-9 that allowed directly accessing video memory. Thanks to code contributed by Robert Gault, the program was released in a version that also worked on stock OS-9.
  • Towel - (Allen C. Huffman) A disk utility to allow copying, deleting and moving single or multiple files from a text directory listing. This and MultiBoot were said by Allen to be his most used programs on the CoCo.
  • EthaWin - (Allen C. Huffman) A free windowing library that worked on a text screen. It allowed a pull-down menu, pop-up dialog boxes, and full keyboard or mouse support. A block character could be moved around the screen to act as a mouse, but all functions were also done through hot-key commands. Other than some demos and proof-of-concepts, the only known released program to make use of this environment was the Towel disk utility for CoCo 3 OS-9 and the MM/1.

MM/1

  • Write-Right - (Joel Hegberg) A word processor. Joel and others jokingly claimed to be working on add-on programs, including Spell-Well and Grammar-Hammer.
  • EthaWin - (Allen C. Huffman) The EthaWin interface was ported to the MM/1 using the K-Windows system. Unlike the text-based original on the CoCo, this version took advantage of the MM/1 always having a graphic screen, and provided a real mouse pointer and more graphical looking pull-down and pop-up windows.
  • TowelOSK - (Allen C. Huffman) Towel disk utility ported to the MM/1.
  • MiniBannersOSK - (Allen C. Huffman/Joel Hegberg) Allen's original MiniBanners09 was ported to the MM/1 by Joel Hegberg.

Other Software

Sub-Etha also distributed a few items from other developers.

See Also