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Terry Simons

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Home / People - Terry Simons

Terry Simons [pronounced SIM-uns] (January 15, 1942 - May 18, 2000) was a CoCo afficionado and founder of Mid-Iowa & Country CoCo Club (known as MI&CC), a Color Computer club based in the heartland of the United States, Des Moines, Iowa. MI&CC came into being sometime before 1992 and boasted a large membership which included members from all over the country (hence the addition of "& Country" to the club name, as Terry would proudly explain).

A U.S. Army veteran, Terry once logged 1,000 miles on a 3-speed bicycle over a 2 and a half year period while stationed in Germany. He also had the distinction of renting out a house to Ken Kaplan, founder of Microware Systems Corporation (the makers of OS-9), when Ken was attending Drake University in Des Moines.

Terry lived in a quiet neighborhood in Des Moines along with his wife Diane, and was also a small business owner, being the proprieter of "Terry's Quality Concrete," where he performed residential and small commercial concrete work in the Des Moines area.

While Terry owned and enjoyed other computers such as the Amiga, his first love was for the CoCo. He dabbled in BASIC programming, authoring a well-known home financial management package called "Home-Pac," which he sold through his company, Computer Villa.

During Terry's leadership of MI&CC, monthly meetings were hosted at a local library in Des Moines, and members were provided a monthly "disk newsletter" that came in the mail on 5.25" diskette. It was a unique distribution method for a newsletter: one would run the disk newsletter on a CoCo 3 and read various articles contributed by MI&CC members and others.

Few would argue that Terry's signature mannerism was his style of writing, both in newsletter articles and in electronic messages he authored: his messages always contained copious amounts of misspelled words, odd sentence structure and liberal use of commas (e.g. till then,,,,). Often signing his posts with the handle 'Terry g', Terry frequented on-line forums such as the CoCo List at Princeton, StGNet and Delphi where he was known as MRUPGRADE.

The Only Fest of Its Kind

In early 1993, Terry Simons convinced the MI&CC membership to host a CoCo Fest right in Microware's backyard. As a result, the Middle America Fest took place March 27-28, 1993 on the outskirts of Des Moines Iowa. This two day CoCo fest was the only one of its kind in the Des Moines area, having never taken place before, and not to be repeated.

The two day event took place at a hotel called "The INN" in Clive, Iowa, very close to Microware's headquarters. One of the more memorable events at the fest was the "Three Muskateers" corner booth where participants could take a digitized picture with Todd Earles and Mark Hawkins, the Microware programmers who helped create the CoCo 3's internal ROM software and its version of OS-9 Level Two.

Although there were concerns that the fest, which came only a few months before the 1993 Chicago Fest, would either suffer in attendance or upstage the Chicago event, the Middle America Fest was well attended, as was the Chicago Fest later that spring.

Trouble Brews - The Orphanware Controversy

In spite of the many good things that Terry did for the CoCo community, both he and MI&CC became a source of controversy which permanently scarred both the man and the organization. The point of contention, which has become known as "The Orphanware Controversy", stemmed from the fact that MI&CC had collected a rather large catalog of free and no-longer-sold CoCo software, and offered its members access to the programs for a modest copying and shipping fee. The contents of this library became the subject of arguments between Terry and a number of CoCo software authors who discovered that copyrighted software was being offered in the library, without any agreement or permission of the original authors.

In 1994, messages critical of MI&CC's favorable stance on orphanware began appearing on the Princeton CoCo List. In the months that followed, the discussion ebbed and flowed, culminating into Terry's active participation on the list in early 1996. It was then that Terry argued openly in favor of MI&CC's library, going so far as to state that if the copyright holder objected to the inclusion of the software in the library, only then would it be pulled. Many notable CoCo software authors were involved in the discussion, including Chris Burke, Joel Hegberg, Alan DeKok, Eric Crichlow and Chet Simpson (Incidentally, Chet was coined "The Saint" by Terry Simons himself, in an attempt to cast Chet as a hypocrite for his allegeded participation in the cracking of copy-protected CoCo software some years before. Chet gladly used the moniker in his posts, and even named a CoCo game that he developed after the gag: Gold Runner II: Return of the Saint).

Software authors were enraged that anyone would place the burden of ownership and claim on the software author. The position of the software authors was clear: respect the copyright, and obtain permission before putting it in the club library. The culmination of the controversy came in early 1996 when Eric Crichlow, a noted CoCo software author, met face to face in with Terry at a bookstore in West Des Moines, Iowa. Eric contended that Terry and MI&CC were blatantly violating copyright. Terry asserted that he was doing nothing wrong by offering software that was no longer being sold to CoCo owners who still wanted to use it. No minds were changed at that meeting, and Eric was determined to bring his concerns to the Community.

Later that year, Eric attended the 1996 Chicago CoCo Fest, bringing with him the now-infamous "WANTED Poster" which proclaimed Terry Simons as a danger to the CoCo Community, and advocating that people not join MI&CC in order to take a stance on orphanware. The fest booklet even contained a compelling piece written by Eric, stating the particular danger of allowing orphanware to become an acceptable part of the CoCo community.

MI&CC Comes to an End

From that point on, MI&CC seemed to have lost its luster as the CoCo Community largely shunned Simons' efforts. In spite of some demand for MI&CC’s “orphanware” library, a number of members of MI&CC either did not renew their subscriptions or cancelled outright. Other organizations within the CoCo community, such as the Glenside Color Computer Club, made their positions clear, stating that they were not in support of the actions of MI&CC and Terry Simons. In the end, both Simons and MI&CC faded into obscurity. Terry formally closed down the club in 1998, sold a great deal of his personal CoCo collection, and moved on to the PC world.

On May 18, 2000 Terry passed away from complications of throat cancer at the age of 58. He is buried at the Des Moines Masonic Cemetery in Des Moines, Iowa.