[Coco] Re: Old Color Computer Information

Dennis Bathory-Kitsz bathory at maltedmedia.com
Fri Oct 17 09:42:00 EDT 2003

At 08:09 AM 10/17/03 CDT, ostro011 wrote:
>I know you struggled mightily to keep your UnderColor Magazine
>going.  But what does this last sentence mean about "destruction of our
>work"?  Are these details OK to discuss?  I'd love to hear more.

First, a little about grammar. :) I wrote, "I started UnderColor, which
failed after 11 issues, as a result of the Ziff-Davis destruction of our

That was like reelly reely bad grammar dood, a perfect example of what they
taught us not to do back in whack-yer-wrists elementary school. It should
have read, "As a result of the Ziff-Davis destruction of our work, I
started UnderColor, which failed after 11 issues."

Now if your question is still the same, here's what happened; I told this
story at one of the Last CoCoFests in Illinois some years ago:

Jim Povic, the publisher of The Color Computer Magazine (and other rags),
was courted by Ziff-Davis in the usual manner: "We love it, we want to
expand it, same staff, same location, full editorial control to you even
through we'll own it! We just want to give you more money and our New York
high-powered backing to make it great!" (I've always assumed Jim was duped
by Z-D, and not a conspirator in this.)

What happened, of course, was that a few weeks later I got a phone call in
the late night from my editor, something like "Z-D is coming in the morning
to lock everything down. Get over here now!" Over there, of course, was 5
hours away, but I careened from Vermont over the Kankamagus Pass through
New Hampshire and up the coast of Maine to Camden in time to grab the TCCM
mailing list, the editorial material still in progress, our author contact
info, and anything else I could remotely justify as 'our work'. I wrote a
quick paragraph about where I was heading (some of you actually read it and
figured out what was going on) and had it slipped into the galleys without
Z-D's knowledge. Those sentences appeared at the end of my column in the
final issue of TCCM.

And sure enough, Z-D goons showed up in the morning and despite pleas from
the publisher, had the offices locked by noon and carted out everything.
They fired the staff, sent the rather naive editor-in-chief (not my editor)
down to New York for a few weeks (or was it months?) of busy work, and then
shut down TCCM entirely (as they did with all the other publications they
bought that might compete with their flagship magazines).

Z-D destroyed everybody's work (in-progress articles, artwork, designs,
galleys, and even submissions) either physically or by killing their

UnderColor was started shortly thereafter, with the TCCM mailing list for
initial contacts. Unfortunately, we were way undercapitalized, half our
advertisers didn't pay, and by issue #11, I had run out of money. I 'sold'
UnderColor to Lonnie Falk (what a mistake) in exchange for extending the
Rainbow subscriptions to UnderColor subscribers, and for his promise that I
could keep a column running in his magazine. That's a story of incompetence
and editorial interference that's still depressing.

By then I had spent everything I had made on my TRS-80 books and articles
keeping Green Mountain Micro afloat. I kept accruing debt, and by 1986 the
company fell apart with the drug death of GMM's vice president and the
collapse of the Tandy computer line. For those who have heard my whole
whining tale before, you'll be happy to know that my GMM debt will be paid
off finally after 18 years, in June 2004. :)


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