MacWorld Expo 1988 Boston

1,050 words

11K on disk

August 1988

MacWorld Expo 1988 Boston

Trade Show

Dates: August 11-13 1988
Locations: Bayside Exposition Center, World Trade Center
Exhibitors: 350



“The weather was hot and the show was dull. There were lots of people in suits not buying anything. There was nothing new or revolutionary. The same could not be said about the food at expo parties, we had seafood every night!” — BMUG Members

Seminar Topics


Apple showed off its new Apple Scanner, with its bundled software package Ofoto. I remember ordering and using one of these not long after 1988, and Ofoto was indeed an an amazing step forward. The hardware was also well-designed, offering classic “Snow White” styling. If I recall correctly this was a greyscale model — color was yet to come.

One Apple product which was rumored to appear, but which did not, was a new Mac based on the 68030 chip. Steve Costa, a leader of BMUG, shot down rumors at the meeting immediately preceding the Expo to this effect, including those printed in a front-page article in InfoWorld.

Word Processing

This MacWorld marked the debut of Paragon’s Nisus, at least in alpha form. The word processor was viewed as a further development of their existing text editor QUED/M, with advanced features such as a drawing module, while still maintaining modest (1mb) RAM requirements and good performance (“almost as fast as WriteNow, double the features of MS-Word, yet half the size of FullWrite!”). Though nearly finished as long ago as January of this year, Paragon still wanted to incorporate a thesaurus and other features, so November was the now the target shipping date. “Perhaps,” write an excited visitor from Sweden, “this is THE word processor!”

Meanwhile WriteNow version 2 was demonstrated but not shipping.

Desktop Publishing


Was Macworld Boston 1988 the first year for Macintosh multimedia? That’s the impression you get reading the coverage of HyperAnimator, an animation system for HyperCard by Bright Star. The public television program Computer Chronicles chose to lead off their coverage of the Expo with a close-up of the software working its magic on a 1-bit digitized avatar of program host Stewart Cheifet. Contemporary articles, such a a mention in InfoWorld, explicitly linked the program to the goals set out in Sculley’s Knowledge Navigator concept video.

At its heart, this technology sought to map MacinTalk-generated speech to a set of pre-recorded face and mouth image, so that a person could seem to be ‘speaking’ arbitrary text without the need to provide full-motion video. In its own way, a testimony to the inventiveness of programs and programmers. before computers became powerful enough to handle more sophisticated forms of full-motion video.

Math Software

Mathematica was demonstrated publicly, together with a math typesetting program called Milo.

Spreadsheets & Databases

FoxBase 1.1


Silicon Beach Software showed off Digital Darkroom, a greyscale photo editing app that had suffered long delays due to growing pains at the company.

Silicon Beach also showed SuperPaint 2.0, its competitor to the recently-unbundled MacPaint.

Speaking of original Apple-branded software, MacDraw II, the long-delayed revision to the first object-oriented drawing program, was finally shipping. But it faced new competitors: Canvas from Deneba and the oddly-named Draw It Again, Sam from Aba.

The next step beyond object-oriented drawing programs was clearly Postscript design, and both Adobe’s Illustrator as well as Aldus’ Freehand were on deck to begin a rivalry which would continue until the eventual purchase of Aldus by Adobe. Adobe’s new version, Illustrator ’88, boasted “new features [that] have enabled Illustrator 88 to gain ground against Freehand,” in the words of Macworld editor Jerry Borrell.

Dubl-Click, best known for their clip art collections, threw its hat into the graphics ring with Wet-Paint.

Moving from 2-D to 3-D, Silicon Beach also showed Super3D, a real-time color animation program for the Mac II.


Aldus demonstrated Persuasion, a “Desktop Presentation Program” as the genre was then known.


A utility package which made a big impression at the show was “Screen Gems.” This $80 disk was published by Microseeds, and included four programs:

Switch-A-Roo by Billy Steinberg, an FKEY for changing monitor settings.

ColorDesk by Paul Mercer, which which promised to “Replace the boring desktop pattern with a full-color picture of whatever you like.”

Dimmer, a screen saver for the Mac II.


One of the first PostScript clones made its debut in the form of the Jasmine DirectPrint and QUME CrystalPrint (two printers based upon the same Casio engine with a liquid-crystal shutter.) A RISC-based processor and 3MB of memory meant it outperformed the LaserWriter by three to four times, but it wasn’t shipping till October. Cost was about $4,000, and observers from BMUG noted that it was “good looking.”

The TrueVision NuVista — a card I remember using well — turned heads on the show floor with its 32-bit color, an exotic feature in 1988. “Does everything you could imagine,” raved BMUG members, “including setting resolution from software. 32-frame virtual screens, way ahead of everything else.” One thing I didn’t remember about it was it’s high price: $6,000.

Mass Micro — an name I had always associated with hard drives — was apparently also showing off true-color and video capture cards as well at this MacWorld.

Jasmine was on the show floor with their BackPack 40HD for the SE or Plus. Oddly, an accompanying 2400-baud modem plugged into the side. Have to try and dredge up a picture of this.

Believe it or not, a Mac-controlled embroidery machine, which could generate patterns from MacPaint files, garnered a lot of attention.


Farallon, a corporate spin-off of the Berkeley Macintosh User’s Group, showed off version 2.0 of Timbuktu. This screen-sharing software, which functioned as kind of a 1980s version of VNC, was described as an “innovative… AppleTalk-observe/participiate package.”

User Groups

BMUG introduced their PD-ROM, a CD-ROM full of public-domain software (what we might today call Shareware.) This represented all two hundred and eight floppies that BMUG had previously sold out of their office and through computer stores. At $100, BMUG was charging for the cost of duplication and distribution, not the free software on the disc itself — a testimony to the costs of disc production in the 1980s.

BMUG also had their Newsletters on offer, volumes so thick that visitors described them as “bibles…. the best book of MacWorld!”

Borrell, Jerry. “Is It Real, or Is It Beta? A Preview of the Macworld Expo.” Macworld, September 1988.
MacWorld Expo 1988 Boston
Kind: Trade Show
Size: 10500 bytes, accounts for 11K on disk
Where:Expos, internal drive
Created:Sunday, August 21, 1988 at 2:29 PM
Modified:Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 9:50 PM


Do you happen to have a copy of Screen Gems? I am also looking for Gray View, which is referenced in conjunction with Screen Gem’s Color Desk, as well as a similar (but separate) program, DeskPict (which I have already archived on the Garden). Thank you!