Stewart Brand (ed.): Whole Earth Catalog (1968-98) & Whole Earth Software Catalog & Review (1984-86)

1 May 2011, dusan

The Whole Earth Catalog was an American counterculture catalog published by Stewart Brand between 1968 and 1972, and occasionally thereafter, until 1998. Although the WECs listed all sorts of products for sale (clothing, books, tools, machines, seeds – things useful for a creative or self-sustainable lifestyle) the Whole Earth Catalogs themselves did not sell any of the products. Instead the vendors and their prices were listed right alongside with the items. This led to a need for the Catalogs to be frequently updated. (source)

The Whole Earth Software Catalog and The Whole Earth Software Review (1984-1985) were two publications produced by Stewart Brand’s Point Foundation as an extension of The Whole Earth Catalog.

The Catalog and Review were notable for being “devoid of any industry advertising” and for being “accessible and user friendly – written in an glib, conversational style that takes most of the bugs out of microprocessing.”

Fred Turner discusses the production and eventual demise of both the Catalog and Review in From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. Turner notes that in 1983, The Whole Earth Software Catalog was proposed by John Brockman as a magazine which “would do for computing what the original [Whole Earth Catalog] had done for the counterculture: identify and recommend the best tools as they emerged.”

Brand announced the first publication of the quarterly Whole Earth Software Review at the SoftCon trade show at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans in March 1984. While both were published as an extension of Whole Earth, the Catalog was a large glossy book sponsored by Doubleday and published in Sausalito California while the Review was a small periodical published in San Diego.

The Whole Earth Software Catalog and Review were both business failures. The Catalog was only published twice (1.0 in June and 2.0 in Fall ’85), with only three of The Whole Earth Software Review supplements published. (source)

Wikipedia (WEC)
Wikipedia (WESC & WESR)

Whole Earth Catalogue, Fall 1968
Whole Earth Catalogue, Spring 1969 (added on 2016-8-24)
Whole Earth Software Catalog 1.0, 1984 (updated on 2012-7-18)
View online (incl. other issues)

See also:
Access to Tools: Publications from the Whole Earth Catalog, 1968-1974, online companion to 2011 exhibition at MoMA;
Index to the Internet Archive’s Whole Earth Collection, compiled by Robert Horvitz (added on 2018-8-18).


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