Timeworks, Inc., later Timeworks International, Inc., was a private[1] American software publisher active from 1982 to 1994 and based in Chicago, Illinois. The company primarily sold entry-level productivity software,[2] as well as advanced desktop publishing applications and video games. They are perhaps best known for Publisher (later known as Publish-It!), their flagship desktop publishing application. In 1993, they were acquired by Megalode Resources, Inc., of Burlington, Ontario, who operated the company until 1994.

Timeworks International, Inc.
FormerlyTimeworks, Inc. (1982–1993)
Company typePrivate
Founded1982; 42 years ago (1982) in Deerfield, Illinois, United States
FounderMark L. Goldberg
Defunct1994; 30 years ago (1994)
FateAcquired in 1993; folded in 1994
HeadquartersNorthbrook, Illinois, United States (1992–1994)
Number of employees
100 (1988, peak)
ParentMegalode Resources, Inc. (1994)



Foundation (1982–1984)


Timeworks, Inc., was founded in 1982[1] in Deerfield, Illinois, by Mark L. Goldberg (c. 1927–2006).[3][4][5] Goldberg had been a veteran of the merchandising industry before founding Timeworks, with a self-professed lack of knowledge in computing.[3] Goldberg initially kept their staff lean—having only five people on Timeworks' payroll in 1983[6]—instead preferring to strike deals with freelance software developers, both in and out of state, giving them royalties for their software.[7] As an example, two of the company's first video games, Star Battle and Dungeon of the Algebra Dragons, were developed by a 17-year-old programmer based in Chicago.[3] Marketing and advertising, meanwhile, was outsourced to Brand Advertising (later Albert J. Rosenthal & Co.) of Chicago.[4][8]

During the first couple of years of its existence, Timeworks focused exclusively on software for Commodore computers, namely the Commodore 64.[3] One of Timeworks' first titles was Cave of the Word Wizard (1982), an educational video game that featured an early instance of speech synthesis for a home computer. The title was aimed at students with special needs and emphasized inflection and tone, as well as grammar.[9]

Growth (1984–1993)


Within less than two years, Timeworks had roughly 15 productivity software and video game titles in its catalog, including Electronic Checkbook, Money Manager, Data Manager, and Swiftax, as well as the aforementioned video games.[3] Swiftax, one of the first tax filing applications for the Commodore 64, was developed by a couple of out-of-state programmers in Houston, Texas, and quickly became one of Timeworks' best-selling titles for 1983 and 1984.[7] Sales accordingly doubled, from US$2.3 million in 1983 to $4.4 million in 1984.[10] It was in the latter year that Timeworks began expanding in earnest, Goldberg hiring Vic Schiller to head a team to convert Timeworks' existing software library to other platforms, including the Apple II, the IBM Personal Computer,[3] and the Atari 8-bit computers.[11] As well, Goldberg hired a television screenwriter to write and simplify the company's paper and online documentation for their software.[3]

In late 1984, Timeworks licensed Evelyn Wood's speed reading software from her company, Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics, releasing the Evelyn Wood Dynamic Reader for multiple platforms.[12][13] In the same year, Timeworks released Word Writer, their first word processor software package, for multiple platforms.[14] Word Writer sold well in the home office segment and was generally praised by software critics,[15] especially its Atari ST version released in 1986. That version was based on the GEM desktop environment developed by Digital Research and was one of the first word processors for the Atari ST.[16][17]

Timeworks continued to broadly support the Atari ST with productivity such as Data Manager ST (a database management system) and SwiftCalc ST (a spreadsheet application).[16][18] This was at a time when the Atari ST's marketshare in the United States was rather poor, especially compared to that of the IBM PC (and its compatibles).[16] Word Writer 128, released in the same year as the ST version, was one of the few programs written exclusively for the Commodore 128, which also suffered poor adoption rates in the United States.[19]: 54  With the IBM PC market still ever-growing, however, Timeworks began focusing their attention to that platform starting in 1987.[20]

Timeworks replicated their success with the GEM desktop environment with Publish-It! for the IBM PC and Apple IIGS.[21] Released in 1988, it was an adaptation of their earlier Desktop Publisher for the Atari ST, which was not based on GEM.[22][23][24] The software was positively compared to Ventura Publisher by software critics and was a best-seller for Timeworks.[25][10] Later, Timeworks developed versions of Publish-It! for Mac OS and Windows platforms, under the names Publish-It! Easy and Publish-It! for Windows respectively. Timeworks abandoned GEM for these ports, as the built-in GUIs of Mac OS and Windows made a desktop environment like GEM running atop these redundant.[10][26][27]

Timeworks' sales rose from $9.4 million in 1987 to a peak of $10.1 million in 1988.[10] Employment in the company also peaked that year, Timeworks having 100 on its payroll.[6] Sales hovered around the $9 million mark between 1989 and 1991 before reaching a new peak of $10.7 million in 1992. That year, the company moved their headquarters from Deerfield to Northbrook.[10]

Acquisition and bankruptcy (1993–1994)


In 1993, Timeworks was acquired by Megalode Resources, Inc., of Burlington, Ontario, for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition was finalized in early 1994,[28] the company renamed to Timeworks International and made a subsidiary of Megalode. They continued producing software until fall 1994, when Timeworks International went bankrupt and its entire staff was laid off.[29]: 69 [30]


  1. ^ a b Staff writer (March 19, 1990). "The 1990 Softletter 100". Softletter. 7 (18). Aegis Resources: 6 et seq – via Gale.
  2. ^ Staff writer (December 23, 1990). "Essex joins Timeworks". The Northwest Herald: D1 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Darby, Edwin (February 27, 1984). "File records in computer and ditch that cigar box". Press and Sun-Bulletin: 9 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ a b Lazarus, George (September 19, 1983). "Fat profits seen in low-cal foods". Chicago Tribune: 3.5 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Goldberg, Mark L." Chicago Tribune: 10. July 13, 2006 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ a b Brogan, Daniel (March 20, 1988). "Software Finds Sweet Home Here". Chicago Tribune: 7. Archived from the original on February 22, 2024.
  7. ^ a b "Computer Program Can Help with Income Taxes". The Tyler Courier-Times: 44. February 19, 1984 – via Newspapers.com. {{cite journal}}: Unknown parameter |agency= ignored (help)
  8. ^ Lazarus, George (August 7, 1984). "Pillsbury losing taste for pasta". Chicago Tribune: 6.3 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Timeworks, Inc.: Cave of the Word Wizard". The A.V. Guide. Vol. 61–66. Education Screen. 1982. p. 138 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ a b c d e Staff writer (April 10, 1993). "The 1993 Softletter 100". Softletter. 10 (1). Aegis Resources: 1 et seq – via Gale.
  11. ^ Staff writer (August 1985). "SwiftCalc Offers Spreadsheet Capability at a Modest Price". Consumer Software News. 1 (2): 21 – via the Internet Archive.
  12. ^ Staff writer (November 1984). "Expanded software". Commodore Computing International. 3 (5). Croftward Limited: 61 – via the Internet Archive.
  13. ^ Pearlman, Dara (March 19, 1985). "Speed Through the Reading Barrier". PC Magazine. 4 (6). Ziff-Davis: 175–186 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ Bowden, Robert (June 10, 1984). "Timeworks' 'we'll buy it' offer no longer means what you think". Tampa Bay Times: 150 – via Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ Marshall, Allan; Ginger Curwen; Robert David Hale (1987). A Manual on Bookselling: How to Open and Run a Bookstore. Harmony Books. ISBN 9780517568880 – via Google Books.
  16. ^ a b c Lendino, Jamie (2019). Faster Than Light: The Atari ST and the 16-Bit Revolution. Steel Gear Press. pp. 73–74. ISBN 9781732355217 – via Google Books.
  17. ^ Geiger, Peter (January 23, 1989). "Timeworks' new entry goes beyond others". The Akron Business Journal: B7 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ Shannon, L. R. (February 24, 1989). "Software library grows for Atari's powerful STs". The Miami Herald: 81 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. ^ Fields, Gary V. (July 1986). "Software Reviews: Word Writer 128". Commodore Microcomputers. 7 (4). Contemporary Marketing: 54, 122 – via the Internet Archive.
  20. ^ Levine, Martin (March 29, 1987). "Telecommuting Still Growing". Chicago Tribune: 36. Archived from the original on February 23, 2024.
  21. ^ Staff writer (January 1988). "What's New from COMDEX". Electronic Learning. 7 (4). Scholastic: 35 et seq – via Gale.
  22. ^ Brownstein, Mark (June 13, 1988). "Timeworks Announces GEM-Based Publisher". InfoWorld. 10 (24). IDG Publications: 17 – via Google Books.
  23. ^ "Publish-It!". Software Reviews on File. Facts on File, Inc. 1990. p. 415 – via Google Books.
  24. ^ Chadwick, Ian (January 1989). "Review: Timeworks Desktop Publisher". ST-Log (27). ANALOG Computing: 88 – via Classic Computer Magazine Archive.
  25. ^ Peterson, Tami D. (January 17, 1989). "$295 Publish-It! Works Like Ventura Publisher, Stresses Ease of Use". PC Magazine. 8 (1). Ziff-Davis: 34 – via Google Books.
  26. ^ Editors (March 1991). "The 6th Annual Editors' Choice Awards". MacUser. 7 (3). Ziff-Davis: 97 et seq – via Gale.
  27. ^ Glinert, Susan (September 1994). "Publishing Without Pain". Computer Shopper. 14 (9). SX2 Media Labs: 360 et seq – via Gale.
  28. ^ Staff writer (September 20, 1993). "Burlington's Megalode buys Timeworks". Computer Dealer News. 9 (19). Plesman Publications: 8 – via ProQuest.
  29. ^ McCracken, Harry; Jean Osborne (January 16, 1995). "The people's press: Low-cost publishing software". InfoWorld. 17 (3). IDG Publications: 68–83 – via Google Books.
  30. ^ Wood, Christina; Peggy Nauts (November 1994). "Shop Talk". PC World. 12 (11). IDG Publications: 31 et seq – via Gale.