Over the weekend, I've spent some time going through the first twelve issues of my Loadstar collection on CD. I've read some articles and tried out many of the programs and I've noticed something very interesting; something I don't think you'd ever see if Loadstar was published today.
For most of the software included on their disks, Loadstar would write a brief summary of the program you were about to load. Along with that, they would mention who submitted the program, where they were from and (and this was the great part) they would encourage you to examine the code and write your own version or make improvements to the program. They then encouraged you to submit what you've created for publication in the “magazine” for everyone else to enjoy. Heck, they even provided a copy application so you could make duplicates of the software onto one of your own diskettes.
This attitude of open coding, learning, sharing and collaboration wasn't uncommon back in the '80s. We were all just beginning to learn what we could do with our C64s. For the most part, we were always eager to share with fellow users what we learned and what we created. But today, unless you're part of the open source community, there are not many software publishers out there encouraging users to examine their code and write their own version of it.
Looking at it from another angle, this approach was a cheap way for Loadstar to get content for each month's publication - and get money for it. But, these were “bedroom” or home-brew software/games writers who really didn't have much of an outlet to share their creations with other C64 users. Getting published in a magazine or selling their software to a game company probably wasn't all that simple to do. And, although Loadstar didn't pay a lot for software that did make it into the magazine, at least home-coders would get something for their efforts.
Today we have the Internet to share our home-brew software with the world. All we need to do is post a link on a few community forums and we're off. But back in the '80s, sending your game or application off to a publication, like Loadstar, was a relatively simple way to get your name out there in the C64 community. This probably provided a lot more exposure to their work than uploading to whatever BBSes they could find.
Anyway, looking at these old issues of Loadstar again certainly brings back fond memories of how the world of home-computing used to be. Back then, every computer user was a bit of a hacker (more or less) and it was fun to find out and share what you could do on your C64.