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article number 4
article date 11-14-2019
copyright 2019 by Author, else subLogic
The Flight Simulator Story, Part 1: The Beginning of subLogic  
by Bruce Artwick and Stu Moment


In the summer of 1977, Bruce Artwick called college friend, Stu Moment. Stu was in the back of his home, a $49 per month trailer, enjoying some time away from his University of Illinois, Flight Instructor job as well as from college classes . . . building a model airplane in the back room.

Bruce wondered if Stu would be interested in taking on the business operations of subLogic. In July 1977 Bruce released "Three Dimensional Microcomputer Graphics" in the M6800 Assembly Language. Bruce was doing business out of a P.O. Box in Culver City, not far from where he worked as an Engineer at Hughes Aircraft.

The beginning of everything, subLogic 3D Graphics for the Motorola M6800 processor, July 1977.

Bruce’s work day at Hughes Aircraft started at 8:00 AM but he’d always get there by 7:30 for coffee and a sweet roll in the cafeteria.

By 6 PM Bruce was back home, often eating a “Jack-In-The-Box” dinner, programming and documenting his new 3-D graphics programs. His article on 3-D graphics was scheduled for the October issue of Kilobaud magazine and he was busy working on the BASIC language version of his 3-D graphics.

My midnight, Bruce would be asleep, ready to wake up to a new day at Hughes.

Bruce Artwick takes time out from Hughes engineering job as well as subLogic development to enjoy the Pacific Ocean.

Even though Stu was a full time flight and ground school instructor, he was back in school, going for his Master of Science in the College of Commerce. Stu thought that running subLogic’s business operations would be fun and a nice match for his school work.

When he was done with his summer flight students, Stu set out on his Kawasaki KZ-400 to visit Bruce in Los Angeles. The little 400cc bike was not intended as a cross-country machine, but Stu enjoyed its light weight as he made his way through the Rockies. Like his trailer park rent, the Kawasaki KZ-400 payments were $49 per month.

Stu Moment prepping his Kawasaki KZ-400 for a trip.

On the third day Stu would be riding though 110 degree temperatures going into California so he (naively) strapped his leathers to the sissy bar and rode in short sleeves.

Besides driving a Datsun 710, Bruce enjoyed riding one of the smallest bikes (of many) he had ever owned, in California traffic. His little Honda CB200 was gold in color and was nicknamed the “Bronze Wing,” a joking reference to the new big Honda “Gold Wing.”

"He’ll be coming round the mountain . . .," Bruce Artwick exits Mulholland Drive on his Honda CB200, one the smallest of his many motorcycles.

Bruce’s day at Hughes gave plenty of variety. On some days he’d go up to a “roof house,” a house build on a roof of one of the Hughes buildings and work with another group which manned radar equipment. They’d open a garage door and aim the radar across the city of Los Angeles at the oil rigs on Baldwin Hills.

The group was working on programmable signal processors for the radar output which would produce images on a screen . . . “synthetic-aperture radar.” We know Bruce for software but his daily activities were in hardware.

Stu arrived at Bruce’s apartment at 2 PM, with blackened alligator skin but an adventurous attitude. When Bruce got home from work, he introduced Stu to the concept of an apartment which smells from the famous LA smog . . . but it was a comfortable lair from which Bruce created the 3D Transformation programs which got subLogic rolling.

Bruce and Stu would often eat at (of course) Jack-In-The-Box.

Modern Google street view of Bruce’s apartment on Culver Blvd.

The 1977 meetings got "corporate" subLogic rolling. Stu rode down to the Los Angeles City Hall and registered subLogic as Bruce’s business under its "fictitious name." Bruce wasn’t even at City Hall. He was at work . . . lots of trust between people back then . . . after all we were in “laid back” California.

After Stu returned home, he registered "subLogic Distribution," added to the hand written in the logs at Champaign County, Illinois, courthouse. subLogic Distribution would ship the products.

Before returning home Bruce and Stu had some California fun, playing volleyball on Santa Monica Beach with Hughes aircraft employees.

A year earlier, in 1976, Bruce graduated from the University of Illinois with a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering and chose Hughes Aircraft, Culver City as his employer.

At Hughes his first assignment was in a program called the "Hellrats", High Energy Laser Acquisition Ranging and Tracking system. He had no idea what the system was but did his job designing a circuit that would open a door through which a laser would take aim. It was a safety circuit designed not to let the laser shoot if the door was closed.

The people in his group at Hughes were young. His boss, Lee Tower, was only 5 years older than him. And the group head only 5 years older than that.

Young Bruce had no trouble working from 8:00 AM until midnight, both for Hughes and subLogic, day after day. This schedule of devotion went on for a long time . . . in 1978 Bruce finished writing the 8080/Z80 Assembly Language versions of the 3D Transforms.

Ad for Sublogic 3D Graphics in 8080/Z80 assembly language.

Back in Illinois, Stu and his wife were distributing the software out of the back of a newer trailer ($69 per month), in a newer trailer park. They bought a new Kawasaki KZ-650 . . . the motorcycle payments, of course, were $69 per month.

Increasing revenues allowed for Stu to buy a plane ticket to Los Angeles to attend the Percomp 78 computer show and witness the growth of the micro-computer industry. Stu remembers the flight to LA in a Boeing 707 . . . he was glad he got to fly in a 707 before they were retired.

Bruce’s ability to produce fast 3D graphic software transforms was enabled by his unique combination of hardware and software knowledge. At the Long Beach, Percomp 78 computing show, new graphics hardware was being demonstrated. Bruce would be writing graphics interpreters for the new hardware . . . now his 3D graphics would actually be displayed on more home computers.

Old, flea market IBM Executive typewriter used by Bruce Artwick to type documentation for subLogic programs.

The microcomputer era technology also meant much for Stu, as he made whole custom college course out of mathematical gradient search optimization programs using the new Apple II computer . . . program technology which, along with his synthetic multi-dimensional equation formats, allowed him to keep subLogic in business while others folded during the many changes in this infant volatile industry.

More products usually means more revenues but the November 1978 publication of subLogic’s UGI, “Universal Graphics Interpreter” gave a catalytic boost in sales as it made the 3D Graphics programs more salable. The UGI had versions for specific graphic hardware.

3D graphic transforms output 2D coordinates for drawing but it was extra work for the purchasers to write the software to take these coordinates and draw lines between them. The Universal Graphics Interpreter allowed the user to view the 3D graphics without writing his own interface.

subLogic Universal Graphics Interpreter manual with media of the day, paper tape, 8 inch floppy and Tarbell Cassette.

In August 1978 Stu and his wife rode their new KZ-650 out to see Bruce and coordinate more corporate activities. Growing sales produced growing problems in recording media. Paper tape, floppy disk and Tarbell cassette recordings were still being done by Bruce in Culver City who then shipped them to Stu in Illinois.

The Illinois operation was busy recoding BASIC language cassettes for the new personal computers, the Apple II and the Radio Shack TRS-80. These cassettes were recorded directly from the respective computer, 4 at a time.

Revenues were up and Stu convinced Bruce to move back to Champaign Illinois in order to operate subLogic full time. Growing revenues allowed for Bruce to get paid $500 per month.

At Hughes, 3 pay raises gave Bruce a salary $25,000 per year . . . Bruce had a dream of making $100 per day and at 250 work days per year, met his dream.

Now Bruce would withdraw just $500 per month from the infant subLogic. Stu made the humorous comment to Bruce, “If subLogic doesn’t make it, you can always get a job stacking shelves at the local IGA Grocery Store.”

In June 1979, Bruce rented a U-Haul truck and equipment to tow his Datsun 710 automobile. Bruce and Stu didn’t begin the drive until afternoon . . . perhaps it was just as well. Going through the desert at midnight the temperature was still 98 degrees.

Through the Rockies . . . Los Angeles, California to Champaign, Illinois.

For a couple of months Bruce lived in a trailer across from Stu. They rented an office in Downtown Champaign, Illinois.

- - -

Bruce didn’t have to stack shelves at the food store. As we’ll see, in December 1979 subLogic released FS1 Flight Simulator for the TRS-80 . . .

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