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(Posted on the ArmourSoft web site in mid-1999. I've updated some of the personal details as of April 2008 and again in March 2013.)

All About ArmourSoft

  1. What Is ArmourSoft?
  2. What Was ArmourSoft?
  3. Who Was ArmourSoft?

What Is ArmourSoft? (in mid-1999)

It's that time of year again for us to look at who we are, where we've been, where we're going, and how much it's going to cost us for the bus fare to get there.

In early 1998, we at ArmourSoft decided to synergize and leverage our core competencies, so we re-engineered ourselves from a production and manufacturing corporate entity into a game design house. That move has proven to be wildly successful (using our definition of "game design house" as meaning "we hang around and play lots of games, and when we feel like it we write some game stuff or drag some old project out of the filing cabinet and post it on the web"). This move was so amazingly successful that our stock went way up. (We hung the stock certificate about two feet higher on the wall.)

We can't afford to rest on past successes, however, so this year we're going to re-engineer ArmourSoft again into the leanest, meanest computer-assist wargame designing outfit in all of Morris County. We owe it to the stockholders. Stockholder. Whatever.

Not wanting to let the momentum slip, next year we're planning on re-engineering ourselves yet again into a major automobile manufacturer, and the year after that we're going to reorganize into a corner deli.

Thanks for another great year.

David Ferris
Senior Minion, Third Class

What Was ArmourSoft?

ArmourSoft began in 1984, as many small game companies start out: we were a bunch of clowns at a weekly local game club session, thinking about how great it would be to have our own game company. Nothing whatsoever came of that, but from late 1984 through mid 1991 I used the ArmourSoft name as a pseudonym for various game projects, mostly computer-assisted, that I worked on in my spare time. Most of these projects ended up being distributed publicly through our local computer bulletin boards, but there didn't seem to be much interest at the time and I don't think the distribution system was particularly global.

In late 1990 my Army Reserve unit (814th Supply Company, wahoo!) was called up for service in Desert Storm. We spent the entire war stationed near Harrisburg Pennsylvania, so I was able to go home to Bloomsburg every weekend. During this time period, the weekly local game club consisted of a different bunch of clowns, so again we thought about how great it would be to have our own game company. This time we actually did something about it though, incorporating ArmourSoft Inc. in late 1991 as a Pennsylvania S-Corporation.

Over the next few years we managed to produce several games: Chart Wars/Space Waste, which was an instant stunning failure on the marketplace; Shipbase III, a computer-assist naval miniatures game that is still quite popular among naval wargamers but didn't sell enough copies to break even; and Slargeball, a $5 DTP "game kit" that we threw together on a whim.

It was obvious that we were never going to make the big time producing and selling these types of games, so people started wandering off almost immediately. By 1995 it was obvious to even me that I wasn't any good at sales and marketing and we started the "shutting down" process. In 1998 we shut the "business side" of ArmourSoft Inc. down, closed the S-corporation, and ArmourSoft went back to what it had been in the 1980's: a pseudonym for me, for whatever projects I was interested in at the time. This time, however, I would have the Internet to distribute my creations, something I didn't have in 1984.

Who Was ArmourSoft?

Gosh, I had more hair back then.

From late 1984 through mid 1991, and from the end of 1998 to the present, ArmourSoft is really only me, Dave Ferris. I was born in London England in 1960, naturalized as a US citizen in 1978, served with the US Air Force in 1978-1982 and the US Army Reserve in 1989-1994. In real life I'm an electrician at a big factory, making fine paper consumer products. I write the ArmourSoft/DIPCo stuff strictly for the fun of it, although if I can ever get any of my novels published I might have to start charging for some of this stuff again.

Like most small game companies probably, ArmourSoft had an interesting cast of characters over the years. When we first pondered the idea of starting a game company in 1984 and I came up with the name ArmourSoft, it was me, Bob Ross, Andy Eisenberg, Andy Morack, and Tom Sparhawk. Last I heard (sometime in the early 1990's) Andy E was a programmer in Ohio and Andy M was running a video store/game shop in Shamokin PA. I've run into Tom a couple of times at the big wargame conventions over the years. I believe he's got his own small game stuff company online and is probably still a sociology prof out there somewhere.

In 1991 when we went at it seriously (using that term loosely), it was me and Bob Ross again, plus John Zeager, Richard Mabie, Patrick Mabie, Raymond Clark, and John Garcia. John Z and the Mabie brothers resigned from ArmourSoft in February 1992. I'd heard that John Z was selling cars in Williamsport and Rich M was installing satellite dishes in Maryland, but I don't know what happened to Pat M. Bill Barnes and Bill Fisher were also loosely affiliated with ArmourSoft in 1992. The two Bills, the Mabie brothers, and John Z later formed their own game company, I think called Syndicate Games. I don't know if they ever produced anything. Bill B is now a computer tech at Bloomsburg University. I heard from Bill F in the early 2000's, when he was a computer tech in Harrisburg PA.

Our first sales & marketing people only managed to sell a grand total of 3 copies of Chart Wars. Last I heard they had moved to Phoenix AZ, tried their hands at producing and marketing a collectible card game, and now sell real estate. Our next sales & marketing guy, Bill Greenley, was a manager at Radio Shack for several years and is now running his father's chain of laundromats.

Jim O'Neil was also involved quite a lot over the years, although since he lives out in Arizona and the rest of us were in Pennsylvania, his role had been mostly technical support (and a lot of moral support! Thanks, Jim.) and sales.

John Garcia and Raymond Clark bowed out of ArmourSoft in late 1994. John, the guy who programmed the last 25% of Shipbase III, is now the dean of information technology at a major tech education outfit in the Midwest.

Raymond and I still keep in touch regularly. He's an office manager/shipping department guy in Columbus, Ohio. It hasn't sunk in for him yet but Raymond is now my campaign manager in my bid for president of this great land of ours.

Bob "Doc" Ross retired a few years ago as an economics prof at Bloomsburg University. I haven't kept in touch with him over the years as much as I'd like, since he lives only a couple of hours away. I still owe Bob and his wife Emma lunch.

I'm sure some of the people I've mentioned will have a somewhat different version of ArmourSoft's history than what I've written here. But what the heck, it's my web page.

Irvania.com webmaster: Dave Ferris
The content on this page was written in 1999, details updated in 2008 and 2013
Last updated: June 11, 2016