Bill Bruneau

I knew PCC from the gritty business side. I started working at PCC as the midnight mailer probably in 1976 - manually zip sorting and mailing thousands of copies of DDJ and PCC news. CMJ came later. Bev, the old circulation manager, was leaving and I foolishly took the job. Somehow it fit right in with being a single parent father of a 3-year-old son. The subscription lists were on index cards in no particular order, and we were sending the cards to be computerized by Mike who had this service in Berkeley, where he would rent time on a PDP. It was a mess and never got straight while I was there. I remember reporting that whole batches of our subscriber lists were all wrong, only to have him storm into my office ready to punch me out!

This stuff was so hot and so new that we were selling all past issues almost as well as the new issues, so for each new issue we basically reprinted all the old issues as well. Then we made the early volumes books and were selling books, old issues, new issues. We were making money on all this but the printing bills were always more and larger as well. By the time I left we were the #3 computer magazine in the world, after Byte and Creative Computing as I recall.

We were a young and energetic staff that generally were unaware that what we were doing was impossible. Work was informal but intense - we drank a lot of Peets Coffee in those days. Knowledgeable people would even look first for PCC staff at Peets certain times of the day - but we also worked our asses off. All the production and paste-up was still on paper. We had Dan, Clair, Teresa and Christine hauling truckloads of books and issues into the bookstore in back, actually everyone would stop business and form a human chain up the stairs to pass up box after box. Dan's office had the first backless chair and room ionizer I had ever seen. Payday could be tense, praying to the mail, but we always were paid.

I personally like working for a cause, and getting computers into everyone’s hands was a great cause - a real antidote for the Industrial Revolution.

About the time personal computers ceased to be a cause and more a commodity I left PCC. Worked for Jim Warren a few years as his database/circulation manager. That was for the early Computer Faires and the Silicon Gulch Gazette (you could judge how high you were in the computer hierarchy by how many copies of the SGG you got. People were miffed if I cut them down to one or two). At first I could only enter data - since Jim was the programmer it took weeks for him to write an editor. Working for Jim up on Swett Road was like working for Jubal Harshaw in Stranger in a Strange Land.

Pass quickly over a disastrous partnership with Cheryl and Tony doing the Users Guide. Then settle into 18 years of Bountiful Gardens which Betsy and I started as part of Ecology Action. Farmers need seeds, so we find the best seeds. Currently we are ranked #8 or #10 in the number of unique varieties we offer, amongst all the seed companies in North America. We run BG off our land abouit 5 miles out of Willits California. Mountain lions, bears, bobcats, foxes, possums, porcupines, foxes, et al. So the cause has been to save heirloom varieties, back then no one knew what heirloom seeds were. We have helped popularize backyard grains (quinoa, amaranth, Pacific Bluestem wheat), compost crops (Phacelia, Tagasaste), medicinal herbs (Ashwagondha, Schisandra, St Johns Wort) and other cool things worth saving in the vegetable world.

Willits is a lot like Palo Alto was in the 70s but more country - the high school has a rodeo team. I still write poetry and a copy is en route. Go and Petenque are very competetive in Willits. Betsy and I sing in a great a capella group, The Emandal Chorale. We are the only small town square dance club that I know of that dances A2. I do a little performance art as well at the local pub and coffeehouses.

Emile that little kid around the office went to Stanford and was a leader of the rugby team there. He currently teaches at Peninsula and is the coach of the Stanford Women's Rugby team that won the national championship two years ago.

Bill Bruneau

CONTACT Bill Bruneau
Last Modified: Thu May 31 16:50:36 2001