:"This article is about the Commodore 64 disk magazine. Loadstar is also the name of an unrelated computer game, , from
Rocket Science Games. A lodestaris a star used to find direction."
Loadstar (ISSN|0886-4144) is a
disk magazinefor the Commodore 64computer, published since 1984, and still in publication today. It derived its name from the command used to cause the first file on a Commodore 1541disk to execute,
LOAD "*",8,1, with inspiration from the word "
"Loadstar" was launched as a sister publication of "Softdisk", based in
Shreveport, Louisiana. It was the second platform for which Softdiskproduced a disk magazine, after the Apple II. At the time, the Commodore 64was a very popular home computer due to its inexpensive price and advanced graphics and sound capabilities for the time.
Early issues of "Loadstar" were produced by the Softdisk staff, most of whom had more experience with Apple than Commodore computers at the time, and much of the content was ported over from the Apple. However, over time, Commodore-specific staff and freelance contributors came aboard.
In addition, "Loadstar" was the official disk magazine for magazines published by Commodore, including "Power/Play" and "Commodore Magazine". Users could find type-in programs from these publications featured on "Loadstar".
Fender Tuckerwas hired as its editor, and he gave "Loadstar" a distinctive style and atmosphere, including references to a fictional "Loadstar Tower" where it was supposedly published (the offices at the time were in fact in a basement). "Loadstar"'s staff soon expanded to include Jeffrey L. Jonesand Scott E. Resh, and the magazine's regular "Puzzle Page" feature - with interactive crosswords, card games, and logic puzzles - was edited by Barbara Schulak.
Under Tucker, a sister publication
Loadstar 128was launched for the Commodore 128personal computer. This magazine was quarterly. Jones contributed to the Loadstar Letter, a printed publication which accompanied issues of "Loadstar".
In 1989, Loadstar published "DigitHunt", a number-puzzle game which was apparently the first home computer implementation of
A notable feature in some early issues is the inclusion of a disk with software to access the then-new online service
Quantum Link, which had been fervently pitched to "Loadstar" by head of marketing Steve Case. The company that ran this service eventually turned into America Online, which would later drop support for the Commodore 64.
As the years went by and the Commodore 64 was increasingly regarded as an obsolete computer, the resources of the company were shifted to software for more current systems such as Windows and the Macintosh, and later to the
Internet. However, "Loadstar" held on, and ultimately outlasted the disk magazines for newer platforms. When Softdisk no longer wished to support it, it was spun off as an independent company, J&F Publishing, co-owned by Tucker and his wife, Judi Mangham, who was a co-founder of Softdisk. It has continued to be published, well into the 2000s, for a cult-following audience of old-time Commodore buffs and for people who run it using Commodore 64 emulators on other platforms.
In January, 2001, Dave and Sheri Moorman of
Holly, Coloradotook over as editors. It remains in publication, in several formats including "classic" Commodore 1541 floppy disks and e-mailed files in C-64 emulator format. An official Web site exists, but not at the earlier loadstar.com address, which now belongs to somebody in Russia according to its [http://domains.dan.info/cgi-bin/gtwhois/proxy.cgi?query=loadstar.com&targetnic=auto WHOIS record] .
As of March, 2008, 248 issues of "Loadstar" have been published. J&F Publishing still officially owns it, but the editing and distribution has been franchised to the Moormans' company, eTower Marketing, with Dave Moorman now editing the monthly magazines and Sheri Moorman handling business matters. Tucker is now concentrating on other ventures such as republishing the books of
Harry Stephen Keelerunder his Ramble House imprint. Loadstar is now slated to cease publication with issue 256. Dave Moorman has kindly made issue 248 a free pass around issue as of November 2007.
* [http://c64.eloadstar.com/pctower/ Official site]
* [http://www.ramblehouse.com/ Ramble House site]
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