About Andrew Fluegelman

Andrew Fluegelman in his office in 1982

Andrew Fluegelman in his office in 1982

In just four years, Andrew Fluegelman (1943-1985) had a remarkable impact on the young PC industry.

A former corporate attorney and managing editor of Whole Earth Catalog spinoff CoEvolution Quarterly who had become a successful packager of books on everything from sushi to Polaroid photography, Andrew knew virtually nothing about computers when he bought one of the first IBM PCs in the summer of 1981. After teaching himself to program, he wrote PC-Talk, a wildly successful piece of communications software that he invited other PC users to freely copy and share with friends, asking for a $35 donation from anyone who found it useful. Andrew called that business model "freeware," and under the later and better-known name of shareware, it became a widespread industry practice that continues to this day.

In 1982, Andrew and his use of the IBM PC for book publishing were the subjects of an article in the first issue of PC Magazine, a magazine founded by David Bunnell, Cheryl Woodard, and Jim Edlin. When Bunnell and Woodard went on to start PC World, Fluegelman became its first editor. Then he served the same role at Bunnell and Woodard's Macworld. Both magazines were among the most popular and influential trade publications of their era, and they emphasized the things computers could do to make life better for human beings over mere technical matters. The editorial standards he established continued to shape the magazines long after others had taken responsibility for them.

After Andrew's untimely passing, David Bunnell created the Andrew Fluegelman Award in his honor. (It became the Fluegelman Bunnell Award after David's own death in 2016.) Originally given to notable figures within the computer industry, it later shifted focus to provide Macintosh laptops to college-bound San Francisco Bay Area students who had overcome economic and societal hardships.

It's safe to say that Andrew would be pleased that his name continues to be associated with this ongoing campaign to provide technology to young people who can really benefit from it. "Unless you want to become involved with becoming an expert programmer, the main thing that a computer provides you is the ability to express yourself," he told MicroTimes magazine in 1985. "And if it’s letting you do that, if you now have hands on those tools, then you can be a force for good out in the world."