|Fate||Acquired by Merit Software|
|Predecessors||MP Software, Co-op Software|
Penguin Software was a computer software and video game publisher from Geneva, Illinois that produced graphics and application software and games for the Apple II, Macintosh, IBM, Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari 8-bit, and Atari ST computers. They produced the graphics programs Graphics Magician and Complete Graphics System, graphic adventure games such as the Transylvania series, arcade-style games like Spy's Demise, and role-playing video games such as Xyphus.
The company was founded in 1978 by Mark Pelczarski as "MP Software" with its first product, a graphics program called Magic Paintbrush. It evolved to "Co-op Software" as part of a sister company, Micro Co-op, then adopted the name "Penguin Software" in 1981 when software publishing became the primary focus. Like many other home computer publishers at the time, Penguin Software openly credited the developers of their games on boxes and title screens; developers that were often not direct employees of Penguin Software but rather independent designers that were paid royalties by Penguin Software for the games that sold.
Penguin Software's core products were its graphics programs that were among the industry best-sellers of the early 1980s . The Complete Graphics System, first published in 1981, was a set of drawing and 3D graphics editing programs for the Apple II by founder Mark Pelczarski. Special Effects, co-written by Pelczarski and David Lubar later the same year, helped establish the company's slogan, "the graphics people". In early 1982, Pelczarski, Lubar, and Chris Jochumson created The Graphics Magician, which would define the next several years of the company's evolution. Graphics Magician was aimed toward developers or anyone wanting to be a developer, allowing any programmer to create animations for arcade-style games and compact graphic images for adventure games and educational software.
Developers began submitting their own creations written in part with Graphics Magician to Penguin Software for publication. Those that were accepted were polished and published and the authors were paid royalties on sales. These included the first two games published by Penguin Software, the animated game Pie Man by Eagle Berns and Michael Kosaka, and the adventure game Transylvania written by Antonia Antiochia. Many other publishers of software for the Apple II also licensed The Graphics Magician for their products, as there was no fee for the license; the only requirement was a credit line that Graphics Magician software was used in the product, which served as advertising for more sales of the Penguin Software graphics tools.
One of the other widely touted aspects of Penguin Software's titles was that they deliberately stopped using copy protection, thus making it easier to back up their programs. Pelczarski sent a letter to many computer magazines to describe his position, which asked that users of their software not abuse their trust.
As software sales expanded into book stores, Penguin Software was confronted by Penguin Books in regard of infringement of their name. Fearing that the legal costs of a lawsuit could have decimated his company, even in the case of an eventual victory, Pelczarski phased in a new name "Polarware" in 1986, eventually ending the "Penguin Software" brand.
Since the Apple II, Macintosh, IBM, Commodore, and Atari computers all had varying graphics capabilities and different processors, releasing a software title for each different brand of computer usually involved programming it again from scratch for each platform. Penguin Software/Polarware began focusing on cross-platform ideas that would allow them to release games simultaneously on different systems without the lengthy re-programming process. The compact images from Graphics Magician could be used across platforms, and an adventure game development and deployment language called Comprehend was created to be system independent and was used for several releases. Also using Graphics Magician across platforms and with a portable design, the first three titles in the Adventures Around the World geography game series were released. However a similar idea called Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego reached the market a few months sooner and doomed the Penguin Software series.
In 1987 Polarware was purchased by four employees, Jeffrey (JJ) Jay, Steve Greene, Peg Smith, and Trish Glenn. This new team produced the children's software series written by Brian A. Rice, The Electric Crayon, a simple electronic coloring book. In 1988, Polarware was acquired by Merit Software and the Polarware name soon disappeared.
As Merit Software moved on to newer products, rights to the old software title were bought back from the remains of Polarware, and many of those titles were subsequently released as freeware to bring them out of Abandonware.
|Magic Paintbrush||Mark Pelczarski||1978/1981/1984|
|The Complete Graphics System||Mark Pelczarski||1981|
|Special Effects||Mark Pelczarski and David Lubar||1981|
|The Complete Graphics System II||Mark Pelczarski||1982|
|The Graphics Magician||Mark Pelczarski, David Lubar, and Chris Jochumson||1982|
|Pie Man||Eagle Berns and Michael Kosaka||1982|
|Spy's Demise||Alan Zeldin||1982|
|Crime Wave||Scott Schram||1983|
|The Quest||Dallas Snell, Joe Toler, and Joel Ellis Rea||1983|
|The Coveted Mirror||Eagle Berns and Holly Thomason||1983/1986|
|Expedition Amazon||Willard Phillips||1983|
|Bouncing Kamungas||Tom Becklund||1983|
|Paper Graphics||Robert Rennard||1983|
|Cat Graphics||David Shapiro||1983|
|Short Cuts||Kelly Puckett||1983|
|Minit Man||Greg Malone||1983|
|Stellar 7||Damon Slye / Dynamix||1984|
|The Spy Strikes Back||Robert Hardy and Mark Pelczarski||1984|
|Ring Quest||Dallas Snell, Joel Ellis Rea, Joe Toler, and Ron Goebel||1984|
|Xyphus||Robert Waller and Dave Albert||1984|
|Arcade Boot Camp||John Besnard||1984|
|Sword Of Kadash||Chris Cole / Dynamix||1984|
|Disk Repair Kit||David Winzler||1984|
|Disk Arranger||William Swanson||1984|
|Transylvania II: The Crimson Crown||Antonio Antiochia||1985|
|Oo-topos||Michael Berlyn, Muffy Berlyn, Raimund Redlich, and Brian Poff||1985|
|Home Connection||William Shaw||1985|
|Home Data Manager||Mark Pelczarski||1985|
|The Spy's Adventures in Europe||Mark Pelczarski, Marsha Meuse, Elizabeth Redlich, and Brian Poff||1986|
|The Spy's Adventures in North America||Mark Pelczarski, Mark Glenn, Brian Poff, and Elizabeth Redlich||1986|
|The Spy's Adventures in South America||Mark Pelczarski, Brian Poff, and Elizabeth Redlich||1986|
|Electric Crayon: Fun on the Farm||Brian Rice||1986|
|Electric Crayon: This Land Is Your Land||Brian Rice||1986|
|Electric Crayon: ABC's||Brian Rice||1986|
|Talisman: Challenging the Sands of Time||Bruce Hoffman, Raimund Redlich, and Brian Poff||1987|
|Sesame Street Crayon: Letters For You||Brian Rice||1987|
|Sesame Street Crayon: Numbers Count||Brian Rice||1987|
|Sesame Street Crayon: Opposites Attract||Brian Rice||1987|
|Electric Crayon Deluxe: Dinosaurs Are Forever||Brian Rice||1988|
|Electric Crayon Deluxe: At the Zoo||Brian Rice||1989|
|Transylvania III: Vanquish the Night||Antonio Antiochia||1990|
- Hunter, David (February 1983). "Exec Penguin Software (Graphically Freezing)". Softalk magazine. pp. 48–54. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- Maher, Jimmy. "The Magnificent Penguin". The Digital Antiquarian. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- "Softalk Presents The Bestsellers". Softalk magazine. December 1982. pp. 334–336. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- "The Graphics People". Polarware Archive site. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- Maher, Jimmy. "Transylvania". The Digital Antiquarian. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- McIntosh, Linda (March 1, 1985). "Software Wizard Creates Colorful Animation With Magician". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
- "Softline Salutes Penguin Software". Softline magazine. March 1982. pp. 58–59. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
- Savetz, Kevin (January 10, 2017). "Audio Podcast: ANTIC Interview 267 - Mark Pelczarski, Penguin Software". ANTIC: The Atari 8-bit Podcast.
- Maher, Jimmy. "Comprehend". The Digital Antiquarian. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- Maher, Jimmy. "The Magnificent Penguin Hangs Up His Tuxedo". The Digital Antiquarian. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- "Polarware Archive site". Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- recomprehend by Ryan Mallon on github.com
- Cover of the game "Pie-Man" from Penguin Software from the Scott Schram website. Schram programmed the conversion of this game to the Atari 800.
- Cover of the game "Crime Wave" from Penguin Software from the Scott Schram website.
- "Polarware Archive site". Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- "The Softalk Apple Project". Archive.org. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- "Penguin Software/Polarware". Apple2Online. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- "Penguin Software gallery". Museum of Computer Adventure Game History. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- "Penguin Software Collection". International Center for the History of Electronic Games, Strong National Museum of Play. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- "Polarware Company Profile". MobyGames. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- More Apple II games from Penguin Software from the Apple II World site (Japanese website, archived)