An Early App Store

Long before the advent of the Google Play Store, the official app store for the Android operating system, or the Apple App Store for the iOS operating system, and even before the idea of Shareware, there was the Atari Program Exchange (APX), an early form of for-profit distribution of end user written programs.

APX was a wholly owned subsidiary of Atari that produced and sold software for the Atari 8-bit family of home computers. APX was known for its quarterly and annual contests, and its detailed and col- orfully illustrated catalogs containing Home Management, Personal Development, Educational, Systems/Telecommunications, and of course, Entertainment software, books such as the ever popular Atari programming bible, De Re Atari, and some random Atari 8-bit compatible hardware such as RAM expansion, cables, and connec- tors. You couldn’t download and install software from APX like you can with today’s all digital online app stores. Your software usually came

through the mail, on a cassette tape or, if you were lucky, a 5 1⁄4 floppy disk, with a minimal user-written, dot-matrix-printed manual and not much else. APX didn’t produce any expensive, cartridge-based software. In its short lifetime, from early 1981 to mid-1984, APX purchased, produced, and sold 254 software titles, many for low volume, niche subjects and hobbies.

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Bill Lange Bill Lange (13 Posts)

Bill is a software engineer. He designs and develops cloud-based software solutions. He resides in NJ with his wife Lucy and their dog Yoda. In his spare time, he likes to tinker with game programming, 8-bit computers and the classic arcade machines of his youth.