Nibble History

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A Historical Snapshot

Begun in his living room in January 1980 by Mike Harvey, Nibble survived longer than most Apple II magazines. His original advertisement was keyed to "the little guy" trying to learn about these new home computers and what they could do. Mike did the original ad on an IBM Executive typewriter after carefully measuring the letter weights and counting the spaces to create proper column justification.

Mike had spent his career in large companies like IBM and Xerox, and he wanted to make sure that he was not under the pressure of banks or investors. So he worked out of his own savings, running the company on a "pay as you go" basis. He printed enough of the first issue, 42 pages long in black and white, to mail to the few who responded to his ad, and the rest were sent free of charge to Apple dealers to make them aware of Nibble's existence.

Their initial schedule was for eight issues per year, which was what he could afford to put out. By mid 1981 the magazine had grown to the point where Harvey could quit his regular job (president of a subsidiary of Exxon Enterprises) and work full-time as publisher of Nibble.

His editorials over the years covered many topics that were helpful for small businesses, giving advice that would help them survive in good times and bad. He certainly took his own advice; although Nibble expanded to the point where it went to a monthly schedule (around 1984) and was printed as a square-bound magazine, it had to reduce by 1990 back to a center-stapled format with fewer pages. Eventually its newsstand distribution also had to be curtailed, and in the end it was available only by subscription.

Nibble's articles covered a wide array of topics, from simple Applesoft and Integer BASIC programs, to complex assembly language applications, BASIC extensions, and games. In its prime it also included a popular series called "Disassembly Lines", by contributing editor Sandy Mossberg, M.D. In his series, Mossberg taught some of the tricks and techniques of assembly language by taking parts of DOS 3.3, and later the BASIC.SYSTEM and PRODOS files, and "disassembling" them into readable assembly source code. This provided some insight into reasons why Apple's system programs worked the way they did, and made it possible to either modify them to fix bugs, or to incorporate the programming techniques in other projects. Mossberg later went on to delve into the Apple IIGS toolbox (built-in ROM routines).

Nibble was a great place to learn how to write programs. Their published listings were well commented, and the tricks used by the programmers who wrote their articles were available for all to see and learn. Along with the various utilities they published were games (some that were very complicated with long tables of hex bytes to enter). They also included in later issues reviews of various commercial software products, and always made available disks containing all of the programs from a single issue of the magazine, for those who didn't want to enter by hand the programs.

In April 1985 a section was added to the magazine called Nibble Mac, to cover topics of interest to Macintosh users. Later in 1985 this was split out and a separate publication (short-lived) with the same title was printed to concentrate on the Macintosh users. Nibble also helped establish the concept of copyright protection on program listings printed in magazines. This was important to Nibble, as they sold disks of their old programs to save readers the trouble of typing in by hand the long listings.

With decreasing sales, a decision was made in 1991 to no longer supply Nibble to newsstand vendors and continue the magazine on a subscription-only basis. The market for Apple II programming-oriented magazines continued to decline, and the July 1992 issue announced itself as the last one. The balance of subscriptions were filled out through A2-Central.

This writeup is used through the courtesy of Steven Weyhrich,
Steve's Apple II History site is an excellent collection and has a full range of Apple II features.

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All contents of this site are copyrighted 2003 by Mike Harvey .  All rights reserved.
Last modified: 9/15/2014