Diskwars is a three issue archival ‘zine exploring the early history of software piracy. This public sociology project synthesizes critical issues and curates exciting artifacts in the history of microcomputing. In the 1970s and 1980s, the advent of microcomputers led to a new age of software, shaped as much by computer hobbyists as by corporate research. Microcomputers went from inaccessible technology to household objects, and magazines proliferated to serve the rapidly expanding communities of computer users. The digital age took hold of the American imagination.
For many people, microcomputing magazines served as the only source of connection and communication to other computer users and manufacturers. Diskwars contains curated excerpts from interviews, magazines articles, photographs, and advertisements from this era. We chose a 'zine format in homage to the original computing magazines that provide some of the very limited primary historical documents from early microcomputing and to also reflect the means by which most computer users were able to connect to one another and learn about computer technology. The materials curated for this series spotlight pivotal moments in early computing and piracy to develop a greater understanding of the ideas and conversations that led to modern understandings of software and software piracy, but also the way in which this evidence has survived.
We divided the content into three issues that focus on the "hacker ethos" among proficient computer users; the market ethos that arose from the burgeoning industry; and lastly, the conversations about software piracy that emerged during the time.