Shareware Heroes

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Shareware Heroes: The Renegades Who Redefined Gaming at the Dawn of the Internet

Shareware Heroes - Paperback - USA - 1st Edition.jpg

Paperback - USA - 1st edition.

Author Richard Moss
Published 2023-01-10
Type Non-fiction
Genre Educational, History
Themes Computers, Marketing, Video Games
Age Group Adult

Shareware Heroes: The Renegades Who Redefined Gaming at the Dawn of the Internet is a non-fiction book written by Richard Moss and published in 2023-01-10. It chronicles the history of the shareware distribution model of software, from its early roots with productivity software to its explosion with home computer video games.


Read?Audiobook read by Richard Moss.

Having lived through the rise and fall of the shareware games market, I was curious to learn more about it and the games I remember playing.





  • The author describes the production and publication of a large variety of games including all the popular titles, and plenty of those that are lesser known. It was a lot of fun being reminded of games I hadn't thought of in years like Sleuth and Capture the Flag.
  • For source material, the author uses several first-hand and second-hand interviews with many of the biggest names in shareware. Figures include Scott Miller of Apogee Software, Tim Sweeny of Epic Megagames, John Romero of id Software, as well as independent developers like Steve Moraff and David Gray.
  • Moss is quite throughout. While he primarily focuses on shareware for MS-DOS and Windows 3 from US developers, he also covers several other platforms like the Amiga, Atari ST, and Macintosh Classic, and companies from several European nations.
  • The author starts even before game development with the earliest shareware developers who wrote and freely distributed production and utility software in the early 1980s. He even covers the origin of the various terms used to describe the model like "freeware" and "shareware."


  • Although competently written, the book isn't all that exciting. An unbiased view of history usually isn't, so I don't really fault that, but a book about making unexpected fortunes through video games has a lot of good material to work with to tell a more compelling story.
  • The author gets a few minor technical details wrong like claiming a CGA game in graphics mode has 16 colors, (CGA has four colors in graphics mode, 16 is only when in text mode, so I assume he meant to write "EGA graphics"). Also, he says the creator of Castle of the Winds added 256 color support, but it only ever used the standard 16-color Windows palette.
  • The audiobook was amateurishly produced and includes stammering and the alternate repeated takes of sentences (this occurred over a dozen times), which should have been edited out.


  • Nothing.