Picture this experience:

Through UseNet, or GameTZ, or maybe the Just Adventure+ Swap Forum, you find someone who has a mint King's Quest 15th Anniversary Collection you've been seeking for awhile. He's not looking to sell outright, but you recognize many of the games on his want-list as not being too difficult to find: 8-bit NES carts, Automated Simulations / Epyx games, early Wizardry, some gold-box AD&Ds. If you can pick up enough of these to match or exceed the value of the King's Quest he'd consider a trade. Of course, the trick is to do this without paying more for the trade pieces (and shipping) than you would for the game itself.

So you hit the thrifts, first treading familiar ground, then driving a little farther to stores in cities you've never visited before, expanding the explored area of your world. In one you come across an Ultima V for $2. The box is pretty beaten-up, but it's complete with the amulet and cloth map, and you know someone who needs a set of parts. He has a bunch of the AD&D titles, cheap, and you're able to swap for two the King's Quest guy wants.

Watching eBay, you spot a large batch of boxed Atari 8-bit software, selling as a single lot. There are a couple of the Automated Sims RPGs in there, and a Wizardry. Three total from his list, plus a couple your own collection can use, so you place a moderate snipe and get it for a decent price. Definitely lower than the individual pieces are worth separately. You pull the games you need, keep a few others as future trade-bait, and re-auction the rest to make back much of what you initially spent. The Wizardry isn't complete, but among your spare pieces you've got an extra catalog and a loose manual in better condition that you can swap into it.

Unfortunately by this time the King's Quest guy has already acquired one of the games you've found, and he's not looking to trade for duplicates. Still, you've got four he needs, in exchange for one, would a little cash make that an equal value? What if you paid for his shipping?

He agrees, and you finally obtain the KQ, your personal goal in this little quest. Not only do you get it, but even after you factor in shipping, the amount you spent on the trade items ends up being far less than what you'd've paid in cash with an eBay bid... albeit with considerably more legwork involved: Running around, gathering items, building up treasure, talking to people.

The ending is satisfying, but the true enjoyment was in the journey there.

Collecting adventure games is a metaphor for exploring, puzzle-solving, adventure gaming itself.

The Man of a (Quarter) Million Games

If you were watching eBay in September of last year, you might recall Eli Tomlinson. He's the guy who listed that auction of a quarter-million games for a quarter-million dollars. It closed without an opening bid, beyond the price range of the typical destitute collector, and no attention from the dealer side yet... but Eli knows that time is coming. He's spent years building a huge database of detailed vintage game information, including full box blurbs, ISBNs, UPC codes, etc. I had a chance to learn more about Eli Tomlinson and his massive warehouse of games before the auction, but am just getting around to sharing it now.

YOIS: Most obvious question first: How did you acquire all this?

ET: The collection grew a couple of different ways. In the early 1980s I actually wrote a couple of programs for the Atari computer. I moved from that to publishing and importing software from England, and that slowly shifted to specializing in the closout software business. I had a very strong business between 1989 and 1993 selling closout software from publishers to independent software stores, a little bit to chains like Electronics Boutique, and a fair amount of export to England, Germany, India, and Singapore. This is the time period that the inventory grew.

YOIS: Interesting. Did you own and manage your own company, or was it more of a one-person operation?

ET: It was essentially a one-person operation: Microdaft.

We also sold a lot of software at computer shows. I have always had a personal interest in software, so at the shows I would often pick-up or trade for unusual or hard-to-find titles. I also did this some with some of the stores we sold to. If I had a good deal on a number of Microprose titles, I might trade it to a store for some of their older titles that they couldn't sell. This would help diversify both of our inventories, and help me continually add to my database.

YOIS: Sounds like the same mentality among the collectors/traders I know, but on a larger scale. So you built the database of box descriptions, UPC codes, etc., from the ground up, using each piece that came through your hands? Or did you also obtain lists from publishers and other sellers?

ET: Everything came through my hands.

As the market changed from disk to CD-ROM, big companies started publishing enormous quantites of software, glutting the market for closeouts. In the old days, when Microprose wanted to liquidate a title, they would have maybe 500 - 2,000 pieces to get rid of. And the value of the liquidated titles was still anywhere from $1 - $10 depending on what it was. All of a sudden I was getting faxes from Time Warner, Compton's for quantities of 100,000+. Even at $.10 apiece, there just wasn't anywhere to sell that quantity, and it devalued all closeout software. The final nail in the coffin was a company in Minneapolis called Slash. They were big and well financed, and were too tough to compete with. So I migrated my business to a standard computer store in Scranton.

YOIS: Yeah, Slash is infamous among collectors for their cheaper reissues of popular game packaging, with all-white, absolutely no-frills materials. Do you know, was Slash any relation to Keypunch? They were another major publisher of budget-price software, maybe a few years earlier, and also based out of Minnesota, IIRC.

ET: They were both out of Minneapolis, but completely unrelated. Keypunch ended up being a financial [failure], Chuck Bond of Slash actually ended up making a lot of money.

The [new] store [in Scranton] did very well, but eventally became too much work and I finally broke down and got a real job. I currently work as the Assistant Vice-Presdient of Information Systems for Wayne Bank in Honesdale, PA. (NASDAQ: nwfl).

All through this, my closeout inventory sat in a warehouse in Scranton. Over the past two years I have been selling a little bit here and there on eBay. And as you probably know, the level of interest in old software seems to grow and grow. And the prices seem to go up and up.

YOIS: Definitely, although the common stuff has gone through a downswing. In the days before eBay, it was practically impossible to find Infocom folios, or any Ultima earlier than VI. The truly profitable items now seem to be ultra-rares and certain mint-sealed stock. Everything else has turned up so often that the big collectors have theirs and the lowballers just won't go much higher.

ET: I haven't watched enough auctions to see that trend. If nothing else, I hope my auction raises awareness of the hobby. The more people who are interested the better!

YOIS: There do seem to be a lot of newbies joining in, too. I'd be interested to hear your observations on collector trends, bid prices, etc. Some of the prices you give are quite incredible: Have these been consistent, or would you classify them as flukes resulting from a bidding war ($122.50 Leisure Suit Larry, for instance)?

ET: It seems as though all eBay's sales are inconsistent. That is one primary reason I would prefer to have a web site. It hurts to let go of a perfect Flight Simulator II for $5.00. But it happens. On the other hand, I just sold an Ultima I for $272.93!

I recently received a good offer to buy my warehouse, and the closing date [was] September 26. I figured I would put the inventory up for sale. If it sells, great! But if it doesn't, I have another buidling to move it to. I would then continue my long term project of getting a web site up and turning the old software into a part-time business.

YOIS: If the single quarter-million lot doesn't sell, is there any possibility of breaking the set up into smaller, possibly similar, lots (say 5,000 or 10,000 pieces), or broken into Infocom, Sierra, Electronic Arts, etc., and selling them to smaller would-be dealers?

ET:It would be hard. The single hardest thing is organizing 250,000 pieces in my spare time. The other thing I want to be careful about is revealing what I have a lot of and what I don't. Actually, and more honestly, I would prefer not to reveal what I have a lot of. I imagine that could seriously dilute the price.

YOIS: Do you sell in person? That is, can people visit your warehouse and pick through the titles firsthand? Or is it all boxed up and unsorted?

ET: No. I work a more-than-full-time job for Wayne Bank. If software collecting continues to grow, I imagine I would open a storefront/museum somewhere. Right now there is some rough organization to the inventory. About 50% can be found easily. The rest is a mess.

YOIS: Do you have a collection of your own, maybe some prize items you pulled from the original lot and decided to keep for yourself?

ET: I have always kept the really rare stuff segregated. I would say about 8,000+ pieces of this auction are pieces I meant as part of my collection. If the auction sells, I will include every single piece. If it doesn't, and I start the web site, there will probably be some pieces I hold back on... There are always pieces with some nostalgic value.

YOIS: Thanks for the replies, and for your time. Good luck with the auction. (I can't possibly afford it, or I'd have the first bid. B-)

Update: Since this interview, Eli's former offer on the warehouse fell through, and though he's had a couple of serious offers on the entire software lot, he hasn't taken them yet. He's still auctioning a variety on eBay and hopes to put more time into a website storefront soon. I'll post the site info on my links page once it's up.

Expert Testimony

Recently I had a chance to personally examine a couple of the counterfeit Sierra games sold by Eyal Katz (courtesy of one of the collectors he scammed). This also gave me the opportunity to pass them on to a friend whose entire professional life has been in the publishing / graphic design arena... and who, though not a Sierra expert, does happen to collect as well. The end result of this is the Shoppe's first guest article. Here's my expert's take, from a print production perspective:

Cranston Manor:

"This one was pretty easy; I was ready to declare the folder a fake almost immediately. In general, the print quality is pretty bad; the picture is badly out of register, shown by a light line running up and down the right side of the picture, and the picture itself just isn't as detailed. But there's two dead giveaways:

  1. The lettering on 'Cranston Manor' has a bitmapped appearance not present in the known original. When curvy lines are scanned at too low a resolution, the result is output with a stair-stepped appearance. Although On-Line could have lost the original artwork and shot the type from a printed version, the bitmapped defects are not characteristic of this. Ink is liquid. Shooting film from a previous printed version would produce a sample which was more blurry, but the ink would stray from the original lines in a smooth, flowing manner. Ink does not land on paper in neat, square corners unless the film output was that way in the first place. This game was made in the early 80s, before the widespread use of computer generated artwork, yet the lettering shows defects introduced by scanning equipment.
  2. The type on the back cover which accompanies the mace was made with a halftone screen over it. In order to print areas in which one color is lighter than others, printers back then would lay what is called a halftone screen over it. Nowadays they just tell the computer to output a halftone at certain specifications. A halftone screen is a specialized pattern of dots. In areas of the picture where it is darker more dots are printed, while in lighter areas less dots are printed. [...] The illustration of the mace requires use of a halftone screen, but standard practice for the type is not to screen it. Type is made of lines which are 100% one color (no lighter or darker areas). As such, there is no need to halftone screen type - the only reason to do it would be if you had no other alternative.

    If someone wanted to counterfeit the mace and the type, they have a hard choice. Not being in possession of the original mace picture, they either have to (1) use a halftone screen over the type and mace, which produces less crisp, lighter type or (2) not use a halftone screen, which would've produced an obviously flat, different picture of the mace. Alternative 1 would be less noticeable.

"Based on these two qualities alone, I'm 99.99% sure this Cranston Manor folder is a fake. Oddly enough, on this one the disk sleeve has very good print quality; going by print qualities alone, quite possible it's original."

Wizard and the Princess:

"The print quality on this one is much better, so there's less evidence of forgery here. There is the same lack of detail as seen in Cranston Manor; note, for example, the stonework in the arch, the woman's hair, and the wizard's pupils. Bitmapped text is also present, although it is much less obvious. The 'O' in 'On-Line' printed on the disk sleeve is the most obvious place. The text on the inside of the folder is also wavy, as if there were a wrinkle in the material it was being shot from. Although this is not a surefire sign of counterfeiting, it does lean more in that direction. Due largely to the bitmapped type, but also to the lack of print quality, I'm about 90% sure this piece is a fake."

Web pictures:

"The halftoned and bitmapped text present in these samples were visible under a printer's loupe, but could easily go undetected, especially in the hands of someone not familiar with print processes. For this reason I'm discussing each of the samples that were posted on the web. These impressions were written before I received the actual pieces."

Price and Computer Specs Text:

"The blurriness is consistent with what I would expect if a piece were made by taking a picture and making a negative straight off the original. The '$' especially is plugging up. This would happen because a negative would first be made from the original packaging. Then a plate would have to be burned (a plate is a thin metal sheet which is attached to the press and bears the image of the desired text/images). The image is transferred to a press piece called a blanket during printing Finally, when it hits the paper, there is what is called 'dot gain' - the ink is wet, so it spreads into the paper. By the time you get your printed piece it is a couple of generations removed. (On newer equipment owned by mid- to higher-end commercial printers the number of generations is slightly less, but only by one generation.)

"But we're talking old school graphics here. In 1980 there was no computerized graphics and typesetting. It was common practice if you needed more than one copy of a piece of type and for some reason had lost the original to shoot off the finished product. You could also make a duplicate negative from the negative you already have, but to do that you'd have to make a positive first, then a negative, so the image will suffer from degradation using this method also.

"So in this case it's possible that the image is blurry either because someone took a negative off the original for a forgery or because On-Line for some reason didn't have the originals (artwork could've been sent somewhere else when they needed it or maybe they lost the artwork). Coin weighted slightly in favor of it being a forgery."

Back-up Instructions:

"The type in the supposed fake is set with a different track than the original. Tracking is the amount of space in between letters and words. Computer fonts can have slight variations - Helvetica from Adobe and Helvetica from Bitstream are not 100% the same. If someone were to forge the type it would take quite a bit of patience to match the original exactly, if the exact original typeface were still available. Could also happen if a negative were made and the camera was slightly off on the horizontal measurements, say 100.5%. A possible explanation is that if it was forged the forger made it in Adobe PageMaker. PageMaker's default tracking is none - you have to set the tracking to 'normal,' so your type looks a little screwy. Someone without advanced skills would probably either forget or not know any better. Could also have been made by photographing the finished product, but I'm not so sure about that. Some of the flaws in the suspect fake would have to be present in the original, too (the suspect would have the same flaws, but worse). I'm not seeing that everywhere.

"In this case I don't think there is a likely explanation of it not being a forgery. In those days you had to send off for type from a professional typesetting house. So unless On-Line switched typesetters right in the middle of a job, it's just not likely. The typehouse would be using the same version of the font, even if multiple copies of the same type were requested. There would be no variations."

Wizard and Princess:

"HUGE color variation here. Seriously, if I were in charge of a reprint for this I would refuse to sign off at the press check. A press check is a duty of representative from the designing company, who goes down while the printer is just starting to run the press job to give approval over the job. One of the items closely examined at a press check is the quality of color. [...] In the examples here the color variation is large for a single run, more likely indicates two different press jobs. Note also there is less detail in the woman's hair.

"Possible causes: A really bad pressman. Possible honest variation if the title was ever reprinted (maybe they got an order for a bunch of games right after the initial print run, so they decided to reprint some folders?) If a forgery, a bad scan (all scans introduce color shifts) or not knowing exactly what the colors on the original are supposed to look like.

"It's 50/50 on this one, you really have to know what the standards at On-Line were like. Did they have a professional designer go down and do a press check? Or did they look around the office and send someone with no design background who didn't have much to do that day? (And a lot of offices do this.) If there was a press check, it's entirely possible they had a bum pressman and he let the color go wild while he had a coffee break. In that case it would depend on how picky the folks at On-Line were and whether they thought it merited a reprint. Also sometimes reprints are forgone because of delivery deadlines, or maybe even for credit on future presswork."

The Mace:

"I was really surprised on this one. The mace provides a kind of watermark, very difficult to reproduce because of its lightness (hard to photograph). If I were forging stuff I'd figure there were much easier pickings elsewhere. The mace does have a lot less detail in the suspected fake, but this can be explained for the same reasons as the '$' sign and other type above. Also, the suspect fake appears to be printed on paper that might be a little rougher. Texture can cause some ink not to fill in as well. Same conclusion as for '$' sign - possible explanations, weighted slightly towards being a fake."

The Gold Labels:

"The sunken type on the known original was made with either a deembossment or heating technique. If counterfeiting the big disadvantage would be that you have to send it to someone else. Even large commercial printers don't own these machines. The printer generally subcontracts this type of work out. It is possible that On-Line cut costs later and didn't go with the sunken type, but once they started making the labels this way the savings cost wouldn't be that significant. Possible the suspect label is authentic, but I'm more inclined to think the cost savings wouldn't be so much as to make On-Line switch processes."

The On-line Systems Sleeve:

"The fibrous paper is called rice paper. If I were forging I could see good reason to switch to a cover stock. The rice paper is flexible and doesn't cut as easily. When they cut these things they put what's called a cutting die on a machine and press it down into paper. The cutting die has sharp metal pieces on a wood slab, like a cookie cutter fixed to a wood plank. Rice paper would be much more temperamental and possibly something I wouldn't want to deal with.

"The type and images are much less detailed on the supposed fake. Take a look at where the 'O' on the On-Line logo touches the bottom 'tail' of the 'O.' The corners are much less distinct. Same analysis as for the '$' sign and mace."

In Conclusion:

"If we assume all the less detailed pieces are authentic, then On-Line sure had bad luck losing their artwork or they had a really bad commercial printer. Possible, but not probable. Also, if the artwork was lost, there was at least one good print run, with more detail. This indicates that somewhere along the line a printer made negatives. Why couldn't On-Line simply use the same printer, with the negatives from the last print run, rather than shoot film from a printed piece? Also, where type was concerned, why would they shoot film from printed pieces? Why didn't they simply order new type? [...] You can't tell me the On-Line logo was lost AND the logo owner had no good repro (high quality reproductions made with photographic paper) anywhere. Also, I do find it odd that even if On-Line genuinely produced the less detailed pieces they all wound up with one individual."

(C.E. talkin' again.) Thanks for the detailed technical analysis. Readers, feel free to e-mail my Mystery Guest if you have any additional questions or comments.

And don't forget about the PC files on the (Apple and Atari) disks. Nothing aside from forgery explains the PC files.

"The Stone Which the Market Rejected"


"Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Cornerstone but Were Afraid You'd Look Like a Freak if You Asked"

(No need to worry, I'll play the freak for both of us.)

I must confess to a certain fascination with the Cornerstone database package. While I've never done much with it outside of collecting, every now and then I'll get an e-mail from someone who still uses it, for actual work. Inevitably these people list its ease of use and powerful features as the reasons they continue to use it. Certain database functionality that we now take for granted made its first appearance in Cornerstone, innovations at the time. Although it never made a dent in the already well-established database market, Cornerstone was an excellent product that sometimes gets a bad rap today as the Infocom-slayer. A more accurate statement would be that the costs involved with setting up Infocom to produce and sell business software, coupled with some management blunders, are what really killed the company.

A Brief History of Cornerstone:

Development on Cornerstone began in the fall of 1982, with the establishment of Infocom's Business Products division. They'd sold a lot of games, they had money, and they wanted to expand into business software to make even more. It was a massively expensive undertaking with a far greater scope than anything Infocom had ever attempted. The company was forced to hire a new marketing department and programming staff, and to buy costly new hardware to support the project.

The software was officially named and announced to the public in a November 1984 press conference, and it finally hit the market in early 1985, around the time Infocom posted its first loss, due to the previous year's expenditures. (They'd expected this, but figured sales of the new software would rebound them.) By September, it was clear that Cornerstone was not going to be the success Infocom had hoped, leading to the first round of layoffs. The price cut, from $495 to just under $100, came in February of 1986, and even that didn't salvage the company. Infocom's losses from Cornerstone's commercial failure, coupled with the enormous price tag of setting up a business software division, forced the company to look for a buyer, ultimately ending with the infamous Activision merger.

For more information, I refer you to "Down From the Top of Its Game", a tremendous dissertation on Infocom's rise and fall, written by a group of MIT students as a class project. The rest of my article here looks at Cornerstone from a software collecting standpoint. To the Infocom fan who's already gathered the greys, found the folios, and indefatigably collected the InvisiClues, Cornerstone offers a fascinating variety of package types, odd pieces, and accompanying promotional materials.

Trilogy of Trilogies:

Three versions of the Cornerstone package were released. The first and second came in the large blue plastic case, and differ only by their reference cards and manuals. The third, which I call the budget release, has no outer container, being merely a large manual with an alternate cover, containing the disks and reference card, and covered with a layer of shrinkwrap.

To date I have seen disks with three different release numbers: 5.16, 5.20, and 5.21. 5.16 seems to be the first public release, as it came in both of the plastic cases I've looked at. One collector I spoke to got 5.20 Cornerstone and 5.21 accompanying disks in his budget release. I haven't yet seen version 5.21 of the Cornerstone software, just the accompanying disks, and only 5.16 of "Beginners Guide 2". All disks are copyright-dated 1984, regardless of version.

Cornerstone disks are marked with two of three possible ID numbers:

Only the main Cornerstone disk has the serial number. The accompanying disks will have the CS part number if it's a 5.16 release, or the IPC if it's a later version.

Plastic-case Cornerstone disk envelopes are made of rice paper - the "fibery" material - and are dark blue with horizontal stripes and a white Infocom logo. Some have Infocom's Wheeler Street address below the logo, others do not. (Only Cornerstone and Fooblitzky used this type of disk envelope.) The budget release seems to have come with the standard grey Infocom sleeves used in their game titles. The 5.16 release disks are notched and covered with silver write-protect tabs. The 5.20 and 5.21 disks are unnotched.

At some point Infocom's Cornerstone support line changed. Most plastic case contents and the budget release give 617-576-1851 as the number, but the "Don't Panic!" pin has it as 617-576-3190. (No need to bother calling these numbers, I've already tried them and they both give that annoying three-tone noise and a recording that the number is not in service.

Here We Go:

What follows is a list of all the Cornerstone parts I've either seen, or heard about through other collectors who were kind enough to share the info with me. (If any of you want your names posted here, just let me know.) This list is very much a 1.0 release. If you've seen, heard of, or own anything other than what I have listed here, please feel free to pass along the details.

(NOTE: This is the original version of the "Cornerstone Database Database", which may be missing some information that has been discovered since its publication. You can always find the most up-to-date version here.)

The Cornerstone Database Database

(Version 1.0, copyright ? 2003 by C.E. Forman. Please do not copy or redistribute without this notice.)
(N/A = no part number is printed on this item)
(??? = currently unknown whether this item has a part number)
Item Description / Notes "IPC" Code CS Part #
Cardboard Shipping Carton Brown corrugated cardboard box with the Infocom logo. This is what the software was sent inside if you mail-ordered it from Infocom. I've only seen one, in the home of a German collector. ??? ???
Slipcover Outer paperboard slipcover that goes over the case. Pictured prominently in the sales brochure, though I've never seen one in person and don't know of anyone who has it. (The IPC code comes from Infocom's list.) BC1-IB1 ???
Plastic Case Large blue plastic case with no handle, used in the first two releases. Measures 9-1/2" x 9-1/2" x 3-1/8". Opens hatch-like at the top to reveal four stair-stepped slots, three of which hold the thinner manuals (they fit in sideways), and the lowest of which is divided into two sections - one for the disk package and one for the smaller materials. The dividers look like they should be removable, but they are not. Attached to the underside of the hatch lid is a shorter piece with separators, which is removable, but is very difficult to get back in place if you do. N/A N/A
Quick Reference Card 4-page quick reference card with creases for folding, initially unfolded. Measures 8-3/4" x 5-3/4". Two versions exist: One is dated "1984", blank on the back (just the grey stripes), and has a separate non-foldable card with TI Professional keyboard diagrams inside it; and one dated "1984, 1986", which has smaller keyboard diagrams on the back cover. The later version does not have the CS part number. N/A 10025
Infocom SASE Pre-paid Infocom self-addressed business envelope, folded in thirds. Intended for mailing in the registration card. N/A N/A
"Read This First: How to Get Started", Large Booklet 24-page booklet, measures 9" x 5-3/4". Dated 1984. Includes tear-out cards for upgrade notifications, newsletter subscription, and two for change of address. N/A 10084
"Read This First: How to Get Started", Small Booklet 16-page (plus cover) booklet, measures 3-1/4" x 7-1/2". Dated 1985. N/A 10102
"Customer Assurance Program" Paperboard foldout card with 7 "panels", the last 3 of which (replacement order, extended support plan, and program registration cards) have tear-off perforations. Measures 3-1/4" x 7-1/2" folded. N/A 10103
"Beginner's Guide: Ten Easy Lessons" Coil-bound, 156 pages (plus 12 Roman-numeral intro pages and two-sided blank last page). Copyright date is 1984, first printing January 1985. No ISBN. Measures 6-3/4" x 9". Seems to have been included in both plastic case releases. N/A 10020
"Owner's Handbook I: Working with Cornerstone" Coil-bound, 204 pages (plus title, TOC and preface pages). Copyright date is 1984, first printing January 1985. No ISBN. Measures 6-3/4" x 9". Included in the first release. N/A 10021
"Owner's Handbook II: Additional Information and Advanced Concepts" Coil-bound, 259 pages (plus title, TOC and preface pages). Copyright date is 1984, first printing January 1985. No ISBN. Measures 6-3/4" x 9". Included in the first release. N/A 10022
Large 3-in-1 Manual The second release of Cornerstone had the Beginner's Guide and Owner's Handbook I & II combined into this single thick manual. Page numbering is reset with each book. Owner's Handbooks are organized a bit differently than their individual versions, with 194 and 278 pages, respectively. Cover features a photograph of smiling people. Mentions the new price of $99.95 on the back. Dated "1985, 1986". ISBN 0-87321-255-X. Measures 6-3/4" x 9". The few I've seen have always been accompanied by the "1984, 1986" version of the quick reference card. I got one of these with a plastic case, though I'm not sure how it was originally packaged, as it doesn't fit inside. N/A N/A
Large Manual, Budget Release Alternate version of the large manual with cartoon cover. Has the disks stuck inside the manual pages, then shrinkwrapped, with no outer plastic case. Dated "1985, 1986". ISBN 0-87321-255-X (same as the other large manual). G-IB2-MAN N/A
"Support Me! Inform Me!" Warranty / Registration Card No-postage registration card, white with blue lettering. Measures 4-1/4" x 6". Included with the budget release. G-IB2-WAR N/A
"How To Choose an Information Management System" brochure Blue brochure with black horizontal stripes. Measures 4" x 9". Ten panels, the last four are fold-out (12" x 9"). Possibly included with the budget release. N/A N/A
"The Joy of Cornerstone" Card Mail-in card for ordering the Building Applications with Cornerstone book. Measures 4-1/4" x 6" (folded). Likely included with the budget release. G-IB2-APL N/A
Diskette Package Small paperboard box containing the five Cornerstone disks. Included in the plastic case releases. Has a license agreement sticker on the back. Measures 5-3/8" x 5-3/4" x 11/16". N/A 10221
License Agreement Sticker Stuck to the reverse side of the disk package. Non-removable. N/A 10222
"Cornerstone" Disk 5.25" disk, contains the actual Cornerstone software. Release 5.16 or 5.20. PD-IB2-104 10212
"Sample Database" Disk 5.25" disk, contains a demonstration database referenced in the manuals. Release 5.16, 5.20, or 5.21. PD-IB2-304 10213
"Client Tracking" Disk 5.25" disk, contains a pre-designed client contract system and sample sales files for conversion to/from Lotus 1-2-3. Release 5.16, 5.20, or 5.21. PD-IB2-204 10214
"Beginner's Guide 1" Disk 5.25" disk, contains accompanying lessons for use with the "Beginner's Guide" manual. Release 5.16, 5.20, or 5.21. PD-IB2-404 10215
"Beginner's Guide 2" Disk 5.25" disk, contains accompanying lessons for use with the "Beginner's Guide" manual. Release 5.16. (I've never come across any later versions. This disk does not seem to have been included in any upgrade sets.) ??? 10216
"Sample Database Copy" Label Disk label for a backup copy of the "Sample Database" disk. Comes on the same sheet as "Client Tracking Copy". N/A 10220
"Client Tracking Copy" Label Disk label for a backup copy of the "Client Tracking" disk. Comes on the same sheet as "Sample Database Copy". N/A 10219
"Beginner's Guide 1 Copy" Label Disk label for a backup copy of the "Beginner's Guide 1" disk. Comes on the same sheet as "Beginner's Guide 2 Copy". N/A 10218
"Beginner's Guide 2 Copy" Label Disk label for a backup copy of the "Beginner's Guide 2" disk. Comes on the same sheet as "Beginner's Guide 1 Copy". N/A 10217
"Cornerstone Back-Up Copy" Label Disk label for a backup copy of the "Cornerstone" disk. Has a space for writing in the serial number. Comes on the same sheet as a blank label. N/A 10226
Blank Disk Label Unused disk label. Has grey horizontal lines across it, but no text or Cornerstone logo. Comes on the same sheet as "Cornerstone Back-Up Copy". N/A N/A
Plastic Function Key Template Plastic overlay that goes around a 2x5 matrix of function keys (F1-F10) on older keyboards. There are two varieties: One thin, blue, and flexible; the other blue-grey and cut from thicker plastic. Another collector's plastic case came with both, as did mine. N/A N/A
"Don't Panic!" Button Aside from its color (white letters on blue), it is identical to the Hitchhiker's Guide pin. Originally attached to a card. N/A N/A
New Support Number Card Card holding the "Don't Panic!" button. Contains Infocom's new Cornerstone support number. N/A N/A
"Cornerstone Demo" Disk 5.25" disk with a demo version of Cornerstone. Dated 1985. A second label on the disk's sleeve contains loading instructions. Included in a disk pouch which was attached inside a sales brochure, part of a sampler packet sent out by Infocom. N/A 10050
"Cornerstone Demo" Disk Pouch Paper pouch containing the "Cornerstone Demo" disk. Measures 5-1/2" x 6-1/4". Originally attached inside a sales brochure, part of a sampler packet sent out by Infocom. N/A N/A
Sales Brochure 10-page, 6" x 9" sales brochure showing pictures and screenshots of Cornerstone. Pouch containing "Cornerstone Demo" disk is attached along a perforation inside. Includes pictures of the elusive slipcover and an alternate version of the "Ten Easy Lessons" book that I've never seen. Part of a sampler packet sent out by Infocom. N/A N/A
Barry Jacobson Letter A letter by Barry Jacobson (not hand-signed), Director of Business Products Marketing at Infocom. Expresses thanks for your interest in Cornerstone and provides brief info about the software's availability. Two slightly different versions are known to exist. One describes the contents of the sampler packet it was included in, the other mentions periodicals that have published favorable reviews of Cornerstone. N/A N/A
Popular Computing Review Glossy, two-sided reprint of a favorable article about Cornerstone in the June 1985 issue of Popular Computing magazine. Included in sampler packet. N/A N/A
Review Flyer Two-sided flyer, one side with a collage of articles and positive reviews, the other showing positive letters received from users. Likely included in sampler packet. N/A N/A
Dealer List 11" x 17" list of retailers who at the time carried the Cornerstone software. Multiple pages, printed on light blue copier paper. The only one I've heard of lists Western U.S. dealers. Variations almost certainly exist. Likely included in sampler packet. N/A N/A
Cornerstone Consulting Group Letter Letter dated 5/21/1986, soliciting training and consulting services for Cornerstone users. "Signed" by Barry Jacobson and Richard Weissberg. Either sent out to registered users, or possibly included in later demo packets. N/A N/A
"Introduction to Cornerstone" Disk 5.25" disk, contains some kind of intro to the software. I have no idea how these were distributed, but it's not the same as the demo. Says release 5.1 on the label. A second label on the disk's sleeve says it is designed for use with the Cornerstone demonstration cassette. I've only seen this on eBay once. N/A 10007
Demonstration Cassette Follow-along audiocassette designed for use with the "Introduction to Cornerstone" disk. Only seen it mentioned on the disk's label, never an actual copy. ??? ???
"Please Note" Card Small white paper containing instructions for synchronizing the Cornerstone demo disk with the audiocassette. N/A N/A
Cornerstone Poster Large roll-out poster displayed at trade shows and given to Cornerstone dealers. Two versions, one with a group of smiling people at computers, the second showing a smiling guy lying on his side while floating in midair. ??? ???
"Building Applications with Cornerstone" Softcover book by Laura Buddine, published by Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-31860-211-3. Approximately 300 pages. Cover price $14.95. Some book lists refer to it as The Cornerstone Book: Twenty Blueprints for Applications, but Building Applications is the correct title. ??? ???
InvisiClues for Cornerstone Personally, I doubt these exist, but they are clearly listed in the product inventory included with some later issues of The Status Line, and it even gives an IPC number. Priced at $14.95, so it could refer to the Building Applications book. BC1-BOK ???
Micro/Answer for Cornerstone From what little information I could find, it looks like Micro/Answer was a joint effort between Informatics and Infocom, used to extract data from mainframe database formats to a PC client using Informatics' Answer/DB product. One article I found priced it at $550, more than CS itself, even before the price drop. If anyone ever comes across an already-opened one, let me know! ??? ???
"Off the Record" Cornerstone newsletter, mentioned in the "Customer Assurance Program" flyer and by name in the larger "How to Get Started" booklet. Described as a quarterly newsletter, though I have no idea how many (or even if any) issues were printed and sent out. ??? ???

The Numbers Game:

Using what I've listed here, the Cornerstone parts list goes from 10007 to 10226, though most of the range is unused. The only used values are:

Technical Support:

One final request: Does anyone have any idea how to get a stuck piece of paper out of the bottom of a Cornerstone case?

While going through mine to make this list, I noticed the paper wedged in the small space between the base of the slots (where the instruction manuals go) and the bottom of the case. The slots are too deep and narrow for fingers. There's a small gap at the side, and enough space between the slots to fit a long, thin piece of metal. I can't seem to push it over enough to be able to snag it with anything, and can't find anything long enough to securely latch onto it even if I could.

I'm dying to know what treasure is hidden within, but short of shattering the case (which is of course out of the question), I can't think of any way to get it out. Any expert puzzle-solvers out there? This problem isn't even mentioned in the manual's troubleshooting section.


***You have finished the Shoppe column***

Wow, what a couple of months it's been. So much has been going on that I still have enough material for about four additional columns! Will try to get another one out soon, with coverage of the software collector's gathering at PhillyClassic. (Last chance to arrange a trip if you haven't already!)

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