Human Engineered Software

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Human Engineered Software
Industry Game development
Fate Closed
Founded 1980
Defunct October 1984

Human Engineered Software (HES, also known as HesWare) was an American home computer software and hardware developer/publisher during the 1980s, who concentrated on the Commodore 64 and the Atari 8-bit.


The company was located in Brisbane, California. It was acquired by Prabhat Jain in 1984 and funded by Microsoft's Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, Dave Marquat of TVI and Prabhat Jain of Video-7/Paradise. Published titles included numerous games as well as educational and productivity programs. Among them were Project Space Station, Mr. TNT, Turtle Graphics by David Malmberg, several Jeff Minter games (Llamasoft), such as Attack of the Mutant Camels, Gridrunner, Hes Games, and HesMon, Graphics BASIC, 64Forth (a cartridge-based Forth implementation), and the HesModem and HesModem II. At one point, HES was the largest single-source supplier of software for the Commodore 64.

The company was started by Jay Balakrishnan and Cy Shuster in 1980, in Jay's apartment in Los Angeles. Typical of his creativity, Jay took down the door to his bedroom, put it across two file cabinets, and used that as a desk for his development (winding the cables around the doorknob!). With incredible amounts of research into the PET ROM, Jay wrote the first 8K 6502 Assembler, HESbal (HES Basic Assembler Language) in BASIC, and an accompanying text editor, HESedit. Having HESbal allowed numerous creative follow-on products, such as HEScom, software and a user port cable that allowed VIC20 programs to be saved to a PET hard disk (since the first VIC20 didn't have a hard disk). Cy soldered the HEScom cables in his garage and wrote HESlister, a print utility for BASIC programs, that he ported from a TRS-80 Model I to the PET, to the VIC, and later to the IBM PC. HESware published OMNIWRITER, a word processor for the Commodore 64.

Game writers Lawrence Holland and Ron Gilbert, later to be famous for their work at LucasArts, started their careers at HES.

By early 1984 InfoWorld estimated that HES was tied with Broderbund as the world's tenth-largest microcomputer-software company and largest entertainment-software company, with $13 million in 1983 sales.[1] In October 1984, however, HES was acquired by Avant Guard Publishing Corp. and thus, already in deep financial troubles, avoided having to declare bankruptcy.


  1. ^ Caruso, Denise (1984-04-02). "Company Strategies Boomerang". InfoWorld. pp. 80–83. Retrieved 10 February 2015.