Tony Bryer's first Summer Shareware Seminar

One of the key reasons why SDA, now Greentram, has survived 25+ years was the Summer Shareware Seminar, later renamed the Shareware Industry Conference. Back in 1989 when we started there was no internet. In the late 1980s the shareware movement grew up as an alternative to expensive shrinkwrap software - if a program was released as shareware you could try it out first and if you liked it you paid the author. UK shareware vendor, Steve Lee's slogan was "One day all software will be sold this way" and he's been proved right: you can now try virtually every piece of software before buying.

In the USA many home computer users were using dial-up bulletin boards to download shareware trial versions but they never really caught on in the UK with its by-the-minute phone billing (in contrast to the USA's flat charge calls). The alternative, in the USA and UK was to buy a shareware disk from a 'disk vendor': at one point there were about 70 of them in the UK and their adverts were a valuable revenue source for computer magazines. Software authors like us would send master disks to disk vendors and they would list them in their catalogues and sell copies for a small sum, typically £2.95. Hopefully, for us and people like us, prospective customers would see the listing, buy the trial disk, like what they saw, and then buy the full version. Thank you to everyone who did!

After reviewing thousands of submissions from hopeful authors, Bob Ostrander, founder/owner of Public Brand Software, a major USA shareware vendor, realised that whilst many were good programmers, they were failing to package their work in a way that would deliver the success they hoped for. To overcome this he started the Summer Shareware Seminar, providing an opportunity for people in the shareware industry to get together, meet each other and learn from their more successful peers. The panel speakers were all volunteers and with sponsorship the cost was kept right down - a mere US$35 in 1992 (+travel+hotel).

In early 1991 I had made my first visit to the USA, to Chicago. The following year when I saw an advert for the second Summer Shareware Seminar in Indianapolis, USA I looked at a map, saw that it was not that far from Chicago and decided to go - had I not made that first trip, it would have seemed an impossibly far and difficult place to go to. It was a great experience and what I learned that year (and at subsequent conferences) has been of immense value, and I made many friends too. Thanks BobO and everyone else who gave so freely of your time to run all conferences I attended. Thanks to SSS/SIC I got to visit Indianapolis, Phoenix, Tampa, Providence, St Louis, Rochester, Dallas, Denver and Reno.

The SSS 1992 session titles listed here an insight to running a small software business at that time. Sadly some of the speakers are no longer with us. Others have retired or moved on, whilst a few of us who were around then are still selling software 20+ years later.

Friday June 19

Newcomers' track Experienced track

Writing Better Software

(making it easy to use)

Tom Guthery, Eric Isaacson, Marcia Meier, Paul Meyer

Coping with Growth

(becoming a full-time company)

Dave Berdan, Gary Elfring, Paris Kariaholios, Randy MacLean, Marshall Magee

Hints from the Pros I

(general marketing tips)

Nels Anderson, Gene Davis, Ross Greenberg, Joe Kertschmer, Rudy Ramsey

Publicity from the writers viewpoint

(hints from experts)

Michael Callahan, Preston Gralla, Trudy Neuhaus, Steve Townsley, Paul Mullen, Jerry Olsen

Writing Better Documentation

(making your software usable by everyone)

Steve Enzer, Jerry Olsen, Bob Rosenberger, Dennis Scarff, Sigrid Vaubel

Public relations

(advertising - free and paid)

Rozalia Deborde, Ross Greenberg, Lisa Landa, Jim Perkins

Preparing your distribution version

(making it usable by everybody)

George Abbott, Bob Burns, Jim Green, Steve Hudgik, George Pulido

Hints from the Pros II

(more hints and tips)

Rozalia Deborde, Paris Karahalios, Dave Berdan, Marshall Magee, Scott Miller, Jim Perkins, Tom Rawson, Sandy Schupper, Bob Wallace

(double session)

Association of Shareware Professionals

(the shareware trade association introduces itself)

Gary Elfring, Charles Schell, Paul Mayer, Paul Munoz-Colman, Ron Roberts, Eric Robichaud

Saturday June 20

Distributors track Authors track

The Disk Vendor Business

(how to be profitable in a changing world)

Mike Comish, Jim Green, Erv Slaski, Terry Ramsetter

Going Retail

(getting your product in stores)

Paris Karahalios, Randy MacLean, Marshall Magee, Sid Bursten, Ron Roberts

Interacting with Authors

(for Vendors, BBSs and User Groups)

Dave Burton, Adrian Mardlin, Eric Robichaud, Charles Schell, Dan Veaner

Interacting with Distributors

(for Authors)

Bill Dickson, Jay Caplan, Bethy Couzzo, Craig Kerwien, Joyce Mosier, Bob Sanborn

The BBS Business

(how to be profitable)

Nels Anderson, Jay Caplan, Jim Edwards, Neil Fleming, Jack Rickard

Registration Incentives

(what works and what doesn't)

Rich Harper, Steve Hudgik, Dave Snyder, Sandy Schupper

Rack vending

(shareware to the masses)

Bill Dickson, Jim Green, Paul Jacobson

The International Marketplace

(getting overseas representation)

Steve Lee, Ian Mackay, George Margelis, Nick Thompson, Serge Tremont

Other topics

Sid Bursten (ASCAP-style royalties), Sam Horton (Collaborations), Nancy Wilson Head (Hiring students), Bob Ostrander (Fighting Virus Panics)

Problem Applications

(tough shareware markets)

Mark Haney, Everett Kaser, Gary McNutt, Jeannine Wolf

Sunday June 21

Legal Aspects of Shareware

(legal questions answered by an expert)

Lance Rose

Technical Support

(satisfying your customers)

George Abbott, Jeff Frownfelter, Ken Mocabee, Steve Townsley

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