Broderbund

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Broderbund Software, Inc.
Fate Acquired by The Learning Company
Successor The Learning Company
Founded 1980; 38 years ago (1980)
Defunct 1998; 20 years ago (1998)
Headquarters
Key people
Products Computer software and video games
Website www.broderbund.com

Broderbund Software, Inc. (stylized as Brøderbund) was an American maker of video games, educational software and productivity tools. Broderbund is best known for the 8-bit computer game hits Choplifter, Lode Runner, Karateka, and Prince of Persia (all of which originated on the Apple II), as well as The Print Shop—originally for printing signs and banners on dot matrix printers—and the Myst and Carmen Sandiego games. The company was founded in Eugene, Oregon, and moved to San Rafael, California, then later to Novato, California.[1] Broderbund was purchased by The Learning Company in 1998.

Many of Broderbund's software titles, such as The Print Shop, PrintMaster and Mavis Beacon, are still published under the name "Broderbund". Games released by the revived Broderbund are distributed by Encore, Inc. Broderbund is now the brand name for Riverdeep's graphic design, productivity, and edutainment titles such as The Print Shop, Carmen Sandiego, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, the Living Books series, and Reader Rabbit titles, in addition to publishing software for other companies, notably Zone Labs' ZoneAlarm.

They would often release school editions of their games, which contained extra features to allow teachers to use the software to facilitate students' learning.[2]

Corporate history[edit]

Broderbund was founded by brothers Doug and Gary Carlston in 1980[3] for the purpose of marketing Galactic Empire,[4] a video game that Doug Carlston had created in 1979. Their sister, Cathy, joined the company a year later.[5] Before founding the company, Doug was a lawyer[5] and Gary had held a number of jobs, including teaching Swedish at an American college.[5] Galactic Empire had many names taken from African languages; a group of merchants was named Broederbond, Afrikaans for "association of brothers". To emphasize its family origin while avoiding a connection with the white-supremacist South African organization of the same name, the Carlstons altered the spelling when naming their company "Broderbund".[6]

By early 1984 InfoWorld estimated that Broderbund was tied with Human Engineered Software as the world's tenth-largest microcomputer-software company and largest entertainment-software company, with $13 million in 1983 sales.[7] That year it took over the assets of the well-regarded but financially troubled Synapse Software. Although intending to keep it running as a business, they were unable to make money from Synapse's products, and closed it down after a year.[8]

Broderbund's The Print Shop software produced signs and greeting cards. Broderbund started discussions with Unison World about creating a version that would run on DOS. The two companies could not agree on a contract, but Unison World developed a DOS product with similar function and a similar user interface. Broderbund sued for infringement of their copyright. Broderbund v. Unison (1986) became a landmark case in establishing that the look and feel of a software product could be subject to copyright protection.[9]

Sierra On-Line and Broderbund ended merger discussions in March 1991.[10] By this time Broderbund was developing most of its software, as opposed to publishing software others had developed; Doug Carlston stated the company needed "to control our own sources, to control our future". After an unsuccessful Initial Public Offering in 1987,[11] it became a public company in November 1991;[12] its NASDAQ symbol was BROD.[13] When Broderbund went public The Print Shop comprised 33% of total revenue, and the Carmen Sandiego series 26%.[14] The company's stock price and market capitalization climbed steadily to a maximum of nearly US$80/share in late 1995, and then fell steadily in the face of continued losses for a number of years.

Broderbund acquired PC Globe in July 1992.[15] The Learning Company purchased Broderbund in 1998 for about US$420 million in stock.[3] Broderbund had initially attempted to purchase the original The Learning Company in 1995,[16][17] but was outbid by SoftKey, who purchased The Learning Company for $606 million in cash and then adopted its name. The Learning Company then bought Broderbund in 1998 and in a move to rationalize costs, The Learning Company terminated 500 employees at Broderbund the same year,[18] representing 42% of the company's workforce.

Doug Carlston explained that in a bid to roll up Broderbund, The Learning Company utilised one of their previous acquisitions to weaken the company's stronghold over the industry. They allegedly gave a rebate to Mindscape's PrintMaster, a direct competitor to Broderbund's Print Shop, that was more than the product was worth[19]

In 1999, the combined company was purchased by Mattel for $3.6 billion.[20] Mattel reeled from the financial impact of this transaction, and Jill E. Barad, the CEO, ended up being forced out in a climate of investor outrage.[21]

Mattel sold their game division Mattel Interactive as well as all its assets in September 2000 to Gores Technology Group, a private acquisitions firm, for a share of whatever Gores could obtain by selling the company. During this time, Broderbund products were owned by The Learning Company Deutschland GmbH, located in Oberhaching, Germany. Headed by Jean-Pierre Nordmann, the company was a subsidiary of The Learning Company LLC, which itself was a wholly owned subsidiary of Gores Technology Group.[22] The company published games under two logos: Blue (Broderbund) and Red (The Learning Company). The Broderbund label was used for "high-quality infotainment, design and lifestyle titles such as Cosmopolitan My Style 2 and PrintMaster", while The Learning Company label was used for children's software.[23]

In 2001, Gores sold The Learning Company's entertainment holdings to Ubi Soft, and most of the other holdings, including the Broderbund name, to Irish company Riverdeep.[24] Many of Broderbund's games, such as the Myst series, are published by Ubisoft.

The Broderbund line of products is published by Encore, Inc under license from Riverdeep.[25][26] Under the terms of the agreement, Encore now manages the Broderbund family of products as well as Broderbund's direct to consumer business. In May 2010 Encore acquired the assets of Punch! Software[27]

In 2014, Doug Carlston donated a collection of Broderbund's business records, software and a collection of games that includes Myst, Prince of Persia and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? to The Strong National Museum of Play. The Strong National Museum of Play forwarded the collection to the ICHEG museum for preservation.[28]

As of 2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is offering the Broderbund, The Print Shop, Calendar Creator, and ClickArt brands as licensing opportunities on its website.[29]

Products[edit]

Broderbund scored an early hit with the game Galactic Empire, written by Doug Carlston for the TRS-80. The company became a powerhouse in the educational and entertainment software markets with titles like Fantavision, Choplifter, Apple Panic, Lode Runner, Karateka, Wings of Fury, Prince of Persia, The Battle of Olympus, In the 1st Degree, The Last Express, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, The Guardian Legend, and Myst, which stayed the highest grossing home video game for years. The company's first title for the Apple II, Tank Command, was written by the third Carlston brother, Professor Donal Carlston

Broderbund became one of the most dominant publishers in the computer market of the 1980s, releasing video games for virtually all major computer systems in the United States.[30] Like most early computer gaming developers, Broderbund began as an Apple II-focused company and began expanding to other platforms as time went along. They released IBM PC ports of a few games very early on, however, it was not until after 1985 that Broderbund would seriously develop for PC compatibles. Due to their strong focus on education titles, they were one of a few devs to actively support the Apple IIgs in the late 1980s. Some of the more popular Broderbund titles were licensed to Western European and Japanese developers and ported to systems in those regions. During the 1990s, Broderbund mostly concentrated on educational titles for PCs and Macintoshes with a few forays into RPGs and strategy games.

Broderbund published the Print Shop series of desktop publishing making programs,[31] Family Tree Maker[32] (a genealogy program supported by hundreds of CDs of public genealogy data), 3D Home Architect,[33] a program for designing and visualizing family homes and Banner Mania, a program for designing and printing multi-page banners. By the end of the 1980s, games represented only a few percent of Broderbund's annual sales, which by then were heavily focused in the productivity arena and early education and learning areas.

Just before being acquired by The Learning Company, Broderbund spun off its Living Books series by forming a joint venture with Random House Publishing.[34] Despite the success and quality of the Living Books series, the joint venture was marginally successful and was dissolved with The Learning Company deal.

For a brief time, Broderbund was involved in the video game console market when it published a few games for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) through its New Ventures Division.[35] All of Broderbund's games for the NES, including the port of its own franchises Lode Runner, Spelunker and Raid on Bungeling Bay, were developed by third-party Japanese companies. Broderbund published some titles that were produced by companies that didn't have a North American subsidiary, such as Compile's The Guardian Legend, Imagineer's The Battle of Olympus, and Legacy of the Wizard, the fourth installment in Nihon Falcom's Dragon Slayer series. Broderbund also developed and marketed an ill-fated motion sensitive NES controller device called the U-Force, which was operated without direct physical contact between the player and the device.[36] In 1990, Broderbund sold its New Ventures Division, including manufacturing equipment, inventory, and assets, to then-fledgling company THQ.[35][37]

Broderbund released in the United States Arsys Software's 1986 third-person action RPG shooter WiBArm,[38]

Broderbund briefly had a board game division, which published Don Carlston's Personal Preference, along with several board game versions of its video games.

Etymology and pronunciation[edit]

The word "brøderbund" is not an actual word in any language but is a somewhat loose translation of "band of brothers" into a mixture of Danish, German, and Swedish.[39] The "ø" in "brøderbund" was used partially as a play on the Norwegian/Danish letter ø but was mainly referencing the slashed zero found in mainframes, terminals and early personal computers.[40] The three crowns above the logo are also a reference to the lesser national coat of arms of Sweden.

The company's name was pronounced /ˈbrdərbʌnd/[41] instead of the popularly used /ˈbrdərbʌnd/.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "About Broderbund." Broderbund. April 12, 1997. Retrieved on June 3, 2011. "Broderbund Software, Inc. 500 Redwood Blvd. Novato, California 94948"
  2. ^ "What's in a School Edition?". web-beta.archive.org. Archived from the original on February 19, 1997. Retrieved March 5, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Pelline, Jeff (June 22, 1998). "The Learning Co. buys Broderbund". CNET Networks. p. 1. Archived from the original on November 26, 2004. Retrieved November 26, 2008. 
  4. ^ "Company: Broderbund Software". Computer History Museum. Archived from the original on March 12, 2009. Retrieved November 27, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c Uston, Ken (September 1984). "A family affair; behind the scenes at Broderbund". Creative Computing. 10 (9): 1. Archived from the original on December 4, 2009. 
  6. ^ Wilson, Johnny L. (November 1991). "A History of Computer Games". Computer Gaming World. p. 10. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  7. ^ Caruso, Denise (April 2, 1984). "Company Strategies Boomerang". InfoWorld. pp. 80–83. Archived from the original on March 16, 2015. Retrieved February 10, 2015. 
  8. ^ Hague, James, ed. (1997). "Steve Hales". Halcyon Days: Interviews with Classic Computer and Video Game Programmers. Dadgum. Archived from the original on May 27, 2014. Retrieved June 13, 2014. Synapse was owned by Broderbund for another year while we tried to sell the Electronic Novels, but the market had already changed too much to make any money, so Broderbund shut Synapse down. 
  9. ^ Galler, Bernard A. (1995). Software and Intellectual Property Protection: Copyright and Patent Issues for Computer and Legal Professionals. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 23. ISBN 0899309747. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Inside the Industry". Computer Gaming World. June 1991. p. 62. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2013. 
  11. ^ Fisher, Lawrence M. (July 9, 1991). "Software Star Hits the Media Road". The New York Times. pp. D7. Archived from the original on August 12, 2014. Retrieved August 9, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Broderbund's Net Up 81%". The New York Times. October 10, 1992. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2008. 
  13. ^ "Broderbund Software, Inc". Business Week. July 19, 1997. Archived from the original on December 24, 2008. Retrieved November 27, 2008. 
  14. ^ "The Print Shop Still Prints Money At Broderbund Software". Computer Gaming World. February 1993. p. 82. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014. Retrieved July 6, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Broderbund Purchases PC Globe". Computer Gaming World. October 1992. p. 16. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014. Retrieved July 4, 2014. 
  16. ^ Daly, Brenon (June 29, 1998). "The Learning Company buys Broderbund 6-22-98". MarketWatch. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved November 26, 2008. 
  17. ^ Fisher, Lawrence (November 9, 1995). "Learning Accepts New Offer From Broderbund Software". The New York Times. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2008. 
  18. ^ "Broderbund Software". FundingUniverse. Archived from the original on October 20, 2008. Retrieved November 27, 2008. 
  19. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9i8Q_YB48M
  20. ^ Malik, Om (December 15, 1998). "The investing game". Forbes. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2008. 
  21. ^ Doan, Amy (April 3, 2000). "Mattel To Ditch The Learning Company". Forbes. p. 1. Archived from the original on April 4, 2009. Retrieved November 26, 2008. 
  22. ^ http://www.lechner.de, Verlag Gabriele Lechner, Agentur fuer neue Medien;. "TLC The Learning Company Firmenportrait". web-beta.archive.org. Archived from the original on November 7, 2001. Retrieved March 5, 2017. 
  23. ^ http://www.lechner.de, Verlag Gabriele Lechner, Agentur fuer neue Medien;. "TLC The Learning Company Firmenportrait". web-beta.archive.org. Archived from the original on November 7, 2001. Retrieved March 5, 2017. 
  24. ^ Norr, Henry (August 27, 2002). "Irish group buys Broderbund software firm". San Francisco Chronicle. p. 1. Archived from the original on April 4, 2009. Retrieved November 27, 2008. 
  25. ^ "Announcing the Release of Broderbund's PrintMaster 2.0". Reuters (Press release). October 19, 2009. p. 1. Archived from the original on November 6, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Encore, Inc & Riverdeep Sign Expanded License Agreement". Press Release. Archived from the original on January 29, 2013. Retrieved May 2, 2011. 
  27. ^ "Encore, Inc. Acquires Punch! Software". Press Release. Archived from the original on January 29, 2013. Retrieved May 2, 2011. 
  28. ^ Tach, Dave (March 4, 2014). "Broderbund founder donates collection including Myst, Prince of Persia to Museum of Play". polygon.com. Archived from the original on June 12, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Licensing Opportunities". Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017. Retrieved January 17, 2017. 
  30. ^ "Broderbund Company Information" Archived September 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., GameFAQs. Retrieved December 9, 2010.
  31. ^ Shannon, L.R. (September 14, 1993). "PERIPHERALS; For Desktop Advice, A Publishing Wizard". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved November 27, 2008. 
  32. ^ Biersdorfer, J.D. (May 13, 1999). "NEWS WATCH; Family Tree Maker Software Now Has 1.5 Billion Names". The New York Times. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved November 27, 2008. 
  33. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; BRODERBUND SHARES JUMP ON LATE EARNINGS REPORT". The New York Times. June 23, 1994. p. 1. Retrieved November 27, 2008. 
  34. ^ Adelson, Andrea (September 11, 1993). "COMPANY NEWS; Random House Children's Books Headed for PC's". The New York Times. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2008. 
  35. ^ a b Carlsen, Clifford (September 10, 1990). "Broderbund Software Inc. jettisons Nintendo, games". San Francisco Business Times (San Francisco, California). p. 1. 
  36. ^ Pollack, Andrew (January 9, 1989). "Trade Show's Hottest Item: The TV Set". The New York Times. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved November 27, 2008. 
  37. ^ Carlsen, Clifford (September 10, 1990). "Broderbund Software Inc. jettisons Nintendo, games. (THQ Inc. buys New Ventures division from Broderbund)". San Francisco Business Times. Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  38. ^ Szczepaniak, John. "Retro Japanese Computers: Gaming's Final Frontier". Hardcore Gaming 101. p. 4. Archived from the original on January 13, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2011.  Reprinted from "Retro Japanese Computers: Gaming's Final Frontier". Retro Gamer (67). 2009 
  39. ^ McLaughlin, Rus (May 30, 2008). "IGN Presents: The History of Prince of Persia". IGN. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 20, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2008. 
  40. ^ Bergen, Tim (November 19, 2004). "Oral History of Douglas Carlston" (PDF). Computer History Museum. p. 10. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 26, 2009. Retrieved November 27, 2008. 
  41. ^ Rifkin, Glenn (September 11, 1995). "Broderbund Casts Itself as a Studio". The New York Times. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved November 27, 2008. 

External links[edit]