Silicon Beach Software was founded in San Diego, California in 1984 by Charlie Jackson and his wife Hallie. It began as an early video game publisher for the Macintosh platform, but also released what was called "productivity software" at the time. Silicon Beach Software is credited with coining the term "Silicon Beach" to refer to San Diego and other coastal areas of Southern California in the same way that Silicon Valley refers to the Santa Clara Valley and San Jose area.
Silicon Beach's best known "productivity software" product was SuperPaint, a graphics program which combined features of Apple's MacDraw and MacPaint with several innovations of its own. SuperPaint and Digital Darkroom were the first programs on the Macintosh to offer a plug-in architecture, allowing outside software developers to extend both programs' capabilities.
Silicon Beach was a pioneer in graphic tools for desktop publishing. Not only was SuperPaint a tool that had advanced graphic editing capabilities for its day, but Digital Darkroom was also a pioneering photo editor. It was grayscale only, not color (like the early Macintosh computers), but had a number of interface innovations, including the Magic Wand tool, which also appeared later in Photoshop. It also had a proprietary option for printing grayscale content on dot matrix printers. Digital Darkroom was used professionally to clean up scanned images for clip art libraries.
Another innovative Silicon Beach product was SuperCard which, like SuperPaint, superseded the capabilities of an Apple-branded product (in this case, HyperCard). SuperCard used a superset of the HyperTalk programming language and addressed common complaints about HyperCard by adding native support for color, multiple windows, support for vector images, menus and other features.
Among the computer games that Silicon Beach Software produced, the most well known is Dark Castle, which was co-created by Jonathan Gay and Mark Stephen Pierce. First released in 1986 for the Macintosh, it was ported to several other operating systems by other companies. The sequel, Beyond Dark Castle, was Silicon Beach's last game, because productivity software was much more lucrative.
In February 1990, Aldus Corporation announced its intention to acquire Silicon Beach, which was completed for US$25.5 million in stock. Aldus appointed Bruce Chizen as the VP and general manager of the studio in San Diego. In August 1994, Aldus itself was acquired by Adobe Systems. By December 2000, Chizen had become the CEO of Adobe.
In 1993, Charlie Jackson and Jonathan Gay co-founded FutureWave Software, the company that created the technology behind Flash, which was acquired by Macromedia in January 1997. Gay eventually became the Chief Technology Officer of Macromedia. In December 2005, Macromedia was also acquired by Adobe, led at the time by Bruce Chizen.
Jackson has since re-acquired the Silicon Beach trademark and re-opened the company in San Diego in 2010 as a publisher of children's interactive storybooks for mobile devices. The company was reorganized in San Diego County in 2015 as a Windows 10 developer.
- Airborne! (1985) combat game.
- Banzai! (1985) teaser demo for Airborne!.
- Enchanted Scepters (1985) an adventure game made with the engine that later became World Builder.
- World Builder (1986) graphical adventure game authoring package.
- Apache Strike (1987) 3D helicopter game.
- Beyond Dark Castle (1987) Sequel to Dark Castle.
- Super 3D (1988) 3D modeling application.
- Silicon Press (1986) card and label printing software.
- Personal Press (1988) entry-level desktop publishing, later renamed Adobe HomePublisher.
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- Silicon Beach Software at the Dark Castle Wiki
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- Silicon Beach Software at Wikipedia
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