Diskwars is a three issue archival ‘zine exploring the early history of software piracy. In the 1970s and 1980s, the advent of microcomputers led to a new age of software, which was shaped as much by hobbyists as it was by corporate research. During this time, microcomputers went from an inaccessible concept to a household object, and magazines proliferated to serve the rapidly expanding communities of computer users, and the digital age took hold of the American imagination.
These magazines served for many as the only connection to other computer users and manufacturers. Diskwars contained excerpts from interviews, magazines articles, photographs, and advertisements from that period. We chose to use the format of a magazine in homage to the original computing magazines that provide some of the very limited primary historical documents from early microcomputing, and to reflect the means by which most computer users were able to connect to one another and learn about computer technology.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 first, the hacker ethos among proficient computer users; second, the market ethos that arose from the burgeoning industry; and lastly, the conversations about software piracy that emerged during the time.