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Edu-Ware Services, Inc.
IndustryComputer and video games
HeadquartersAgoura Hills, CA
Key people
Sherwin Steffin Chairman
Steven Pederson President
ProductsThe Prisoner, Terrorist, others
Number of employees
ParentManagement Sciences America (1983)

Edu-Ware Services, Inc. was an educational and entertainment software publisher established in 1979 by Sherwin Steffin and Steven Pederson It was known for its adventure games, role-playing video games, and flight simulators for the Apple II family of computers.


Edu-Ware founders Sherwin Steffin and Steven Pederson met at UCLA, where Steffin was working as a faculty advisor to the campus radio station where Pederson worked as a student. When Steffin was laid off in the spring of 1979, he and Pederson decided to form a software publishing company specializing in educational software for the Apple II. In particular, Steffin, who held degrees in experimental psychology and instructional technology, wanted to create computer aided instruction that encouraged divergent thinking, in contrast to current school curriculum, which he believed encouraged convergent thinking.[1]

Working out of his Woodland Hills, California apartment, Steffin programmed educational software, while Pederson favored games the games he created while completing his studies at UCLA. Edu-Ware's first products were Perception, followed by Compu-Read, which Steffin had begun programming before starting Edu-Ware, with the intention of selling it to Programma International. Software store Rainbow Computing, enticed by Pederson's concept for a new role-playing video game called Space, gave him his first Apple II computer, which he used to also write the strategy game Terrorist and the educational program Compu-Spell, for which Pederson wrote the first version of Edu-Ware's EWS graphics engine for generating text on the Apple's high-resolution graphics screen.

The company expanded beyond the two founders when it hired Mike Lieberman, who had also worked at the student radio station, as sales manager, and contracted game developer David Mullich, who met Steffin while working at Rainbow Computing. After writing several games for Edu-Ware as a freelancer, he joined Edu-Ware after completing his own studies at California State University, Northridge in 1980, and as his first assignment created the ground-breaking adventure game The Prisoner, the product for which Edu-Ware is best remembered today. The game was also a financial success for the company, which moved into actual officespace, at 22222 Sherman Way in Canoga Park, California, by the year's end.[2] Sometime later, the company relocated to larger facilities overlooking the 101 Freeway in Agoura Hills, California.

Edu-Ware may be most noted for what it failed to publish rather than what it did publish: Ken Williams originally shopped the first graphical adventure, Mystery House to Eduware in 1980. Unhappy with how the negotiations were proceeding, he formed On-line Systems to publish the game.[3] On-line Systems became Sierra On-line and Sierra became extremely successful, based largely on their reputation in the graphic adventure genre.

While The Prisoner remained Edu-Ware's best-selling individual product during its first two years of business, educational software remained its primary focus. The Compu-Math series, consisting of three programs designed by Steffin and programmed by Mullich for teaching elementary mathematics, unveiled Edu-Ware's vision of teaching by objectives and measuring learning through pretesting and posttesting. The company's educational approach was perfected in 1981 with the release of the first in the Algebra series, in which learners choose the cognitive approach by which they want to learn. The Algebra series greatly surpassed The Prisoner in sales and became Edu-Ware's greatest source of revenue.

Despite the company's successes, by 1982 it was obvious that to Steffin and Pederson that they could not continue running the company themselves. Rapidly climbing marketing costs and heavier competition from rivals like Davidson & Associates and Spinnaker Software were taking their toll. For the 1.5 million dollar software company to survive, Edu-Ware needed more management strength and expertise.[4] In July 1983 Management Sciences America, then the world's largest independent software manufacturer, announced that it was purchasing Edu-Ware for a combination of cash and MSA stock, valued at $1.5 million, plus a percentage of future earnings. Having previously specialized in mainframe computer software, MSA saw the purchase as its entry into educational software, which it saw as a future growth market.[5]

However, the relationship soon soured as Edu-Ware's marketing was taken over by MSA's Peachtree Software accounting software division, and the Edu-Ware brand identity was slowly extinguished. The final straw came when Personal Computing hit the newsstands in October 1984. The issue featured a well-publicized peach-scented insert that unfolded into eight pages, 32-inches wide, displaying a shelf of 67 Peachtree Software products, all in identical packaging. This included 45 Edu-Ware products that were virtually indistinguishable from the accounting software packaging, the only difference being that the Edu-Ware products had the word 'Education' on the box, even for the Edu-Ware games like Prisoner 2.[6]

Steffin's protests over how MSA was handling Edu-Ware caused him to be fired in August 1984. The next month, he filed a lawsuit against MSA, claiming the company had violated securities laws in making fraudulent representations to Edu-Ware's stockholders in order to buy the latter's stock and for the promise of future payments not materialized. Steffin further claimed he was to be employed by Edu-Ware for four years after the sale, and charged that MSA undercut Edu-Ware sales to diminish the payments it had promised. He said MSA sabotaged the company by holding some products off the market, eliminating advertising and discontinuing use of the Edu-Ware name.[7]

Two months after Steffin filed his lawsuit, MSA announced plans to sell its retail microcomputer software group of Peachtree Software, DesignWare, and Eduware, which together lost $2 million that year. MSA cited the millions of dollars Peachtree Software had spent on advertising and promotion, including the expensive peach-scented insert, as a reason for selling off the group.[8] In March 1985 Encyclopædia Britannica announced that it had purchased Designware and Edu-Ware from MSA for an undisclosed sum. The EduWare development team was to be disbanded, and DesignWare would handle both development and marketing of Edu-Ware and Designware products.[9]

Steffin started another software publishing company, BrainPower, along with sales manager Lieberman, while Pederson, who had left Edu-Ware several months earlier, went on to other ventures. Mullich and a few other remaining Edu-Ware employees acquired two of the computer games in development, an adventure game called Wilderness: A Survival Adventure and a space flight simulator called Tranquility Base, and formed their own game company, Electric Transit.

Besides Mullich, another notable Edu-Ware alumni include former Apple Computer evangelist Guy Kawasaki, who was director of marketing at the company,[10] and NASA official Wesley Huntress, who developed Rendezvous: A Spaceflight Simulator.[11]


Unique software for the unique mind[edit]

Edu-Ware's initial product line was an eclectic mix of analytical software, educational software and computer games, which it marketed under the slogan "unique software for the unique mind". Its 1979 product listed such diverse titles as the metric conversion calculator Metri-Vert, an E.S.P. program to help determine if users have extrasensory perception, and a drinking game called Zintar.

However, the photocopied documentation that was packaged in a zip-lock bag with each of Edu-Ware's early products outlined the company's goal of creating software that fell into two distinct categories: K-12 educational products that aimed to provide computer aided instruction that went beyond "random drill and practice routines', and entertainment products which were “often more intellectually powerful, and educational, than the educational products themselves".

While many of the company's initial efforts fell short of that vision and were soon dropped from future catalogs, several early products typified the Edu-Ware experience, including its durable speed reading program Compu-Read, and its science fiction role-playing video game Space.

The science of learning[edit]

In 1981, Edu-Ware formalized the distinction between its educational and entertainment products by creating two separate product lines, each with its own packaging. The "Science of Learning" product line consisted of no-nonsense tutorials such as the Compu-Spell, Compu-Math and Algebra series. In each, the learner is given specific, measurable learning objectives; then pre-tested to assess current skill levels before presented with sequenced learning modules; after which he is post-tested to determine what he has learned. Several of these products featured a classroom management module, which measured the individual progress of an entire classroom of students and provide teacher control over the learning process.

While Edu-Ware's attempts at applying formal learning theory were often praised, its no-nonsense approach to learning had its critics. For example, a review of Compu-Math: Arithemetic Skiills complained that the program is "devoid of the fun aspect that makes computerized learning human and inspiring. The sole reinforcement is an ever-increasing complexity of the problems".[12]

Although most of Edu-Ware's Science of Learning products were developed internally, by 1982 the company was attracting outside educators such as Judith S. Priven, Ed.M., who developed several PSAT/SAT products; Neil Bennett, Ph.D., who created an interactive tutorial for teaching BASIC programming; and M. David Merill, who created the first of a (never-completed) comprehensive series to teach poetry.

Interactive fantasies[edit]

While educational software was Edu-Ware's bread-and-butter, its innovate games are what the company is remembered for today. The goal of Edu-Ware's games was to "test, challenge and perhaps inspire that closet intellectual in all of us."[13] Dubbed "Interactive Fantasies", they tackled such weighty topics as the oil crisis (Windfall), television programming (Network), and global terrorism (Terrorist). Noted one magazine reviewer, "there is that residual element of reality that makes Edu-Ware stuff so good".[14]

Many of Edu-Ware's games were written by game designer David Mullich. The most famous (or notorious) of these was Prisoner 2, an update that added graphics to their earlier game The Prisoner. The game was Mullich's homage to the Patrick McGoohan 1967 TV series The Prisoner, which had recently been rebroadcast in the United States. The game was Edu-Ware's most critically acclaimed title, and was ported to the Atari and IBM PC computers. While the game was one of Edu-Ware's best-selling titles, like most of EduWare's output, it proved too outside the mainstream to be considered a true hit.

Interactive simulations[edit]

In 1982 Edu-Ware introduced a third brand, Interactive Simulations, when it released Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation, developed by NASA scientist Wesley Huntress. Accompanied by a thick "Spacecraft Operations" manual with a chapter on use in the classroom, this flight simulator was marketed as being as educational as it was fun to play.


While the typical Edu-Ware educational product adopted a very serious tone in its instruction, developer John Conrad had created a series of educational products such as Introduction to Counting and Spelling and Reading Primer for Edu-Ware that were designed for the younger learner and thus more playful than the typical Edu-Ware product.

However, two of Conrad's later products, Spelling Bee Games and Webster’s Numbers, fell so far into the realm of edutainment that Edu-Ware created a fourth product line for them in 1983. The Dragonware line featured a dragon mascot named Webster, who was to be the child's companion this series of educational games.

Peachtree software[edit]

Edu-Ware's final products – the comprehensive Learning to Read literacy series, the final chapter in the Empire role-playing video game saga, a Tranquility Base lunar lander simulator, and a children's game called Merry Canned Nightmare’s and Dreams – would each have fit well into its Science of Learning, Interactive Fantasies, Interactive Simulations, and Dragonware brands, respectively.

However, Edu-Ware's new owner, MSA, decided to strip Edu-Ware of all its brands and marketed the entire software line in identical packaging, bearing the logo of its Peachtree Software accounting software division. All of the products were promoted as being educational software – even such games as Prisoner 2 – until the product line was sold to Encyclopædia Britannica in 1985.

Published titles[edit]

Year Title Genres Platforms Developer Notes
1979 Compu-Read Drill and practice Apple II Edu-Ware Originally programmed by Steffin before starting Edu-Ware, it became Edu-Ware's longest-selling title together with its 1981 hi-res graphics remake, Compu-Read 3.0.
1979 Edu-Pak I Educational software compendium Apple II Edu-Ware Includes Compu-Read, Perception, and Statistics
1979 E.S.P. Personal development Apple II Edu-Ware
1979 Metri-Vert Analytical software Apple II Edu-Ware
1979 Party-Pak Entertainment software compendium Apple II Edu-Ware Includes E.S.P, Subliminal and Zintar.
1979 Perception Puzzle Apple II Edu-Ware Edu-Ware's first product to be released. Remade with hi-res graphics in 1982 as Perception 3.0.
1979 Rescue Strategy game Apple II Edu-Ware
1979 Rescue/War Strategy game compendium Apple II Edu-Ware Includes Rescue and War.
1979 Statistics Analytical software Apple II Edu-Ware Remade with hi-res graphics in 1982 as Statistics 3.0.
1979 Space I Role-playing video game Apple II Edu-Ware The concept proposal for Edu-Ware's first role-playing video game convinced Rainbow Computing to give Pederson his first computer. Replaced by Empire I: World Builders in 1981 when Game Designers Workshop sued Edu-Ware for copyright infringement.
1979 Space II Role-playing video game Expansion pack Apple II David Mullich Expansion pack for Space.
1979 Story Teller Word game Apple II Edu-Ware
1979 Subliminal Word game Apple II Edu-Ware
1979 Text File Editor Analytical software Apple II Edu-Ware
1979 Unisolve Analytical software Apple II Edu-Ware Remade with hi-res graphics in 1982 as Statistics 3.0.
1979 War Strategy game Apple II Edu-Ware
1979 Zintar Drinking game Apple II Edu-Ware Advertised in Edu-Ware's catalog as being banned by Rainbow Computing.
1980 Compu-Math: Arithmetic Skills Tutorial Apple II Edu-Ware
1980 Compu-Math: Decimals Tutorial Apple II, Atari Edu-Ware Remade with hi-res graphics in 1982 as Decimals.
1980 Compu-Math: Fractions Tutorial Apple II, Atari Edu-Ware First product created in the Compu-Math series. Remade with hi-res graphics in 1981 as Fractions.
1980 Compu-Spell Drill and practice Apple II Edu-Ware The first program to use Edu-Ware's EWS high resolution graphics engine.
1980 Network Business simulation Apple II David Mullich
1980 The Prisoner Adventure game Apple II Edu-Ware Arguably Edu-Ware's best-remembered title, and Mullich's first as an Edu-Ware employee. It remained Edu-Ware's greatest seller until the release of the first in the Algebra series. Remade with hi-res graphics in 1982 as Prisoner 2.
1980 Terrorist Strategy game Apple II Edu-Ware First Interactive Fantasies brand title.
1980 Windfall: An Oil Crisis Simulation Business simulation Apple II David Mullich
1981 Algebra 1 Tutorial Apple II, IBM, Commodore 64 Edu-Ware The first of the Algebra series, Edu-Ware's all-time greatest seller.
1981 Counting Bee Tutorial Apple II John Conrad Repacked as Introduction to Counting in 1983.
1981 Compu-Read 3.0 Drill and practice Apple II, Atari, Commodore 64, IBM Edu-Ware Hi-res graphics remake of Compu-Read. Together, they were Edu-Ware's longest-selling title.
1981 Empire I: World Builders Role-playing video game Apple II Edu-Ware First hi-res graphics title. Replaced Space.
1981 Spelling Bee with Reading Primer Tutorial Apple II John Conrad Repackaged in 1982 as Spelling and Reading Primer.
1982 Algebra 2 Tutorial Apple II, IBM Edu-Ware
1982 Algebra 3 Tutorial Apple II, IBM Edu-Ware
1982 Algebra 4 Tutorial Apple II, IBM Edu-Ware
1982 Decimals Tutorial Apple II, IBM Edu-Ware Hi-res graphics remake of Compu-Math: Decimals.
1982 Fractions Tutorial Apple II, IBM Edu-Ware Hi-res graphics remake of Compu-Math: Fractions.
1982 Empire II: Interstellar Sharks Role-playing video game Apple II Edu-Ware
1982 Perception 3.0 Puzzle Apple II Edu-Ware Remake of Perception, using hi-res graphics.
1982 Prisoner 2 Adventure game Apple II, Atari, IBM Edu-Ware Remake of The Prisoner, using hi-res graphics.
1982 PSAT Word Attack Skills Tutorial Apple II, Atari, IBM Judith S. Priven, Ed.M.
1982 Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation Space flight simulator Apple II, Atari Wesley Huntress, Ph.D. First Interactive Simulations brand title.
1982 SAT Word Attack Skills Tutorial Apple II, Atari, Commodore 64, IBM Judith S. Priven, Ed.M.
1982 Spelling and Reading Primer Tutorial Apple II, IBM John Conrad Repackaged version of Spelling Bee with Reading Primer.
1982 Spelling Bee Games Edutainment Apple II, Atari John Conrad First Dragonware brand title.
1982 Statistics 3.0 Analytical software Apple II Edu-Ware Hi-res remake of Statistics.
1982 Algebra 5/6 Tutorial Apple II, IBM Edu-Ware
1983 Empire III: Armageddon Role-playing video game Apple II Edu-Ware Packaged by Peachtree Software as an “educational” title.
1983 Hands-On BASIC Programming Tutorial Apple II Neil Bennett, Ph.D.
1983 Introduction to Counting Tutorial Apple II, IBM John Conrad Repackaged version of 'Counting Bee.
1983 Introduction to Poetry Tutorial Apple II M. David Merill
1983 PSAT/SAT Analogies Tutorial Apple II, IBM Judith S. Priven, Ed.M.
1983 Webster's Numbers Edutainment Apple II, Commodore 64 John Conrad
1984 Learning to Read: Letters, Words and Sentences, Volume 1 Tutorial Apple II MicroTeacher
1984 Learning to Read: Letters, Words and Sentences, Volume 2 Tutorial Apple II MicroTeacher
1984 Learning to Read: Letters, Words and Sentences, Volume 3 Tutorial Apple II MicroTeacher
1984 Learning to Read: Letters, Words and Sentences, Volume 4 Tutorial Apple II MicroTeacher
1984 Merry Canned Nightmares and Dreams Board game Apple II
1984 Tranquility Base Space flight simulator Apple II, IBM L. Roberts Enhanced and re-published as Lunar Explorer” in 1985 by Electric Transit.
1984 States & Traits Learning PCjr, IBM DesignWare
1984 Wilderness: A Survival Adventure Adventure game Apple II Wesley Huntress, Ph.D. Enhanced and re-published in 1985 by Electric Transit.
1984 Writing Skills, Volume 1 Tutorial Apple II, IBM, Macintosh MicroTeacher
1984 Writing Skills, Volume 2 Tutorial Apple II, IBM, Macintosh MicroTeacher
1984 Writing Skills, Volume 3 Tutorial Apple II, IBM, Macintosh MicroTeacher
1984 Writing Skills, Volume 4 Tutorial Apple II, IBM, Macintosh MicroTeacher
1984 Writing Skills, Volume 5 Tutorial Apple II, IBM, Macintosh MicroTeacher


  1. ^ Tommervik, Allan (May 1981). "Exec Edu-Ware". Softalk: 4, 6, 19.
  2. ^ "Tradetalk". Softalk: 17. December 1980.
  3. ^ "Lysator Adventureland".
  4. ^ Gear, Tommy (April 1984). "Eduware Under A Peachtree". Softalk: 187.
  5. ^ "MSA Acquires Edu-Ware". Softalk for the IBM Personal Computer: 131. October 1983.
  6. ^ Harrison, Judy (September 1984). "Peachtree Software's Ad Insert Smells Just Peachy". Computer & Electronics Marketing: 131.
  7. ^ "Management Science was sued for $11.5 Million". Los Angeles Times. 1984-09-28.
  8. ^ Bernheim, Kim (1984-12-03). "Peachtree Burden to MSA". InfoWorld.
  9. ^ "MSA Finds Purchaser for DesignWare and Edu-Ware". Software Publishing & Selling. March 1985.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2008-01-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^,98943/
  12. ^ Martellaro, John (March 1981). "Arithmetic Skills". Peelings II. 2 (2): 9.
  13. ^ Steffin, Sherwin; Mike Liberman (1980). Windfall Player Documentation. Edu-Ware Services, Inc.
  14. ^ Martellaro, John (February 1981). "The Prisoner". Peelings II. 2 (1): 32–33.

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