In mid-1991 I came back from a holiday, and among the messages waiting for me was one from a retired engineer, Ralph Simons (RIP 2014), who had picked up a shareware copy of SuperBeam. He had independently written a BS5950-based steel design program - beams, columns and web openings - and wondered whether there might be a possibility of us working together to turn it into a commercial product. And thus ProSteel began to evolve.
Like most programming projects, turning Ralph's program into a shippable application took longer than expected. SuperBeam 1 had been written in Borland Turbo Basic, the natural choice in 1988. SuperHeat 1, released in 1990, was written in Borland Turbo Pascal on the advice (very good advice) of Dr Alan Solomon, then a noted anti-virus guru who gave generously of his time and expertise to the PC User Group entrepreneurs group which flourished at the time.
Ralph had written his program in Microsoft QuickBasic, and it seemed sensible to spend £50 on a copy of QB so that I could use his code as a basis for the new program rather than rewriting it. It all seemed sensible at the time, but these decisions caused a lot of extra work; all the common code for things like printing, printer drivers, changing colours etc had to be written three times in the three different languages, and by the time ProSteel 1 shipped in March 1992 not much of the original code had survived unchanged.
The SuperBeam manual had not been split into two for any particular reason, but now it made more sense. SuperBeam and ProSteel each had their own User Guide, with a common reference guide covering all the common elements such as configuration and printing options. By now we were producing manuals with screenshots! SuperBeam 2 initially shipped with a SuperBeam 2 user guide and a combined SuperBeam 2/ProSteel 2 reference guide.
What did ProSteel 1 look like?: we'd like to be able to show you but unfortunately we've failed to preserve a working copy. Much like SuperBeam 1 though, with a popup menu at the bottom right of the screen.