One of the shelves in my lab’s library containing removable disks of hypertext and other forms of electronic literature

Those of you who have been following the activities taking place in the Electronic Literature Lab over the years may be aware that I have collected copies of 47 of the 48 works that Eastgate Systems, Inc. published since 1988 and validated publication dates for 20 of them. Dating works is not an easy task, mainly because the company did not always note publication dates on the folios or the website and library cataloguers made no distinction between floppy disks and CD-ROMs, designating both as “removable disks.” As I wrote in the essay, “Locating Stephanie Strickland’s True North,” it is important to give a precise date of a work of electronic literature. In the case of her hypertext poem,” 

“[T]”he World Wide Web impacted the production of CD-ROMs for interactive media and the publication of net art. In 1997, for example, 70 million people––or 1.7% of the world’s population––were accessing the web for content, a number that had quadrupled since the mainstreaming of the browser in 1995; by 1999, the number jumped to 248 million (“Internet World Stats”). The growth of web use affected companies that had staked their claim to removable disks. A case in point: In 1997 the Voyager Company, which produced interactive versions of important literary works and unique media on CD-ROM, closed its doors. The mass migration of media to the web was well underway by the time Strickland’s CD-ROM was released and helps to explain her interest in publishing a web version of one of the poems [from True North,”To Be Here as Stone Is”] in her hypertext.” (Grigar)

An ad for Judy Malloy’s “its name was Penelope” on the inside cover of the folio for Tim McLaughlin’s “Notes Toward Absolute Zero”

Below is the list of hypertext literature published by Eastgate Systems, Inc. since the company began releasing works in 1988 with its own software program Hypergate. [1] This information has been gleaned from the various ads for coming works included in the folios as posters and announcements cards, or listed on the inside of the folios’ covers and on the company’s website, which still markets the removable disks to the public. If you know of a work that I have missed, please share this information with me. Note that I also own or have access to copies of works that were submitted but never published by the company, such as “Contours” by Heather Malin referenced in Michael Joyce’s book, Othermindedness, as a forthcoming publication. Astrid Ensslin and I are very interested in studying these works, so if you have examples, please share them with us. Also note that Paul’s Unreal City has a strange publication history due to a copyright issue concerning Eliot’s The Waste Land, though the hypertext still appears on the company website as available. [2] This is the only Eastgate hypertext I seem to be missing from my collection––so, if you have a copy and would not mind giving it to me for the lab, I would certainly appreciate it and will name one of my vintage computers in your name. (An honor, considering they are all currently named after Greek goddesses or Star Wars characters–a lofty pantheon you will join!)

The next phase of my project is to list the hypertext authoring programs or programming languages used for the creation of the work––because not all of them were produced with Storyspace. This is why I refer to the list of works as The Eastgate School, for there exists an aesthetic preferred by the company that aims to produce what it calls, “Serious Hypertext.”

Hypertext Literature Published by Eastgate Systems, Inc., 1988-2016

  1. Mark Bernstein and Erin Sweeney, The Election of 1912, 1988
  2. Robert DiChiara, A Sucker in Spades, 1988
  3. Clark Humphrey, The Perfect Couple, 1990
  4. Michael Joyce, afternoon: a story, 1990
  5. Stuart Moulthrop, Victory Garden, 1991
  6. Sarah Smith, King of Space, 1991
  7. Carolyn Guyer, Quibbling, 1992
  8. George P. Landow, The Dickens Web, 1992
  9. George P. Landow & Jon Lanestedt, The In Memoriam Web, 1992
  10. Judy Malloy, its name was Penelope, 1989-1992
  11. John McDaid, Uncle Buddy’s Phantom Funhouse, 1992
  12. Mary-Kim Arnold, Lust, Diskette 1993, CD-COM 1998
  13. Yellowlees Douglas, I Have Said Nothing, Diskette 1993, CD-ROM 1998
  14. Deena Larsen, Marble Springs, 1993
  15. Jim Rosenberg, Intergrams, 1993
  16. Kathryn Cramer, In Small & Large Pieces, 1994
  17. Giuliano Franco, Quam Artem Exerceas?, 1994
  18. David Kolb, Socrates in the Labyrinth, 1994
  19. Kathy Mac, Unnatural Habitats, 1994
  20. Rob Swigart, Directions, 1994
  21. Edward Falco, Sea Island, 1995
  22. Richard Gess, Mahasukha Halo, 1995
  23. Diane Greco, Cyborg: Engineering the Body Electric, 1995
  24. Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl, 1995
  25. Judith Kerman, Mothering, 1995
  26. George Landow, Writing on the Edge, 1995
  27. Deena Larsen, Century Cross, 1995
  28. Judy Malloy & Cathy Marshall, Forward Anywhere, 1995
  29. Michael Van Mantgem, Completing the Circle, 1995
  30. Tim McLaughlin, Notes Toward Absolute Zero, 1995
  31. Christiane Paul, Unreal City: A Hypertext Companion to T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, 1995
  32. Michael Joyce, Twilight: A Symphony, 1996
  33. Robert Kendall, A Life Set For Two, 1996
  34. Jim Rosenberg, The Barrier Frames, 1996
  35. Jim Rosenberg, Diffractions Through, 1996
  36. Richard Smyth, Genetis: A Rhizography, 1996
  37. Bill Bly, We Descend, 1997
  38. Wes Chapman, Turning In, 1997
  39. Edward Falco, A Dream with Demons, 1997
  40. Deena Larsen, Samplers, 1997
  41. Eric Steinhart, Fragments of the Dionysian Body, 1997
  42. Stephanie Strickland, True North, 1997
  43. D. Coverley, Califia, 2000
  44. Rob Swigart, Down Time, 2000
  45. Richard Holeton, Figurski at Findhorn on Acid, 2001
  46. Judd Morrissey & Lori Talley, My Name Is Captain, Captain, 2002
  47. Roderick Coover, Cultures in Webs, 2003
  48. Megan Heyward, of day of night, 2004
  49. Mark Bernstein, Those Trojan Girls, 2016

As I said, if you have any additional information about these works or other, please notify me. I will cite you, I promise.


[1] I have identified only three works published with Hypergate: Bernstein’s own The Election of 1912, Robert DiChiara’s A Sucker in Spades in 1988, and Sarah Smith’s King of Space in 1991. Bernstein abandoned the authoring system that he created once he saw Storyspace demonstrated at Hypertext ’87 by Michael Joyce and Jay David Bolter. It took Bernstein several years before he had secured a license for it. The first work he published as most e-lit scholars know was Michael Joyce’s afternoon: a story, the work demonstrated at the conferenceFor more information, see Belinda Barnet’s Memory Machines, pages 133-134.

[2] The reason the hypertext was not widely distributed after its publication may have something to do with the fact that it included a copy of Eliot’s poem. Other hypertexts of the period that served as guides to print literary work like George Landow’s The Dickens Web,” did not. See Landow, Hypertext 2.0, page 49. Obvious, it was available for a period of time because references to it appears in various important books about hypertext besides Landow’s like J Yellowlees Douglas’s The End of Books–or Books Without End? (page 147); The Question of Literature, edited by Elizabeth Beaumont Bissell (page 189). It also shows up in various places as having been published in 1996 and 1997. As I argue elsewhere, dates matter.

Works Cited

Barnet, Belinda. Memory Machines: The Evolution of Hypertext. London, UK: Anthem Press, 2014.

Bissell, Elizabeth Beaumont. The Question of Hypertext: The Place of the Literary in Contemporary Theory. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2002.

Douglas, J Yellowlees. The End of Books––or Books Without End? Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2000.

Grigar, Dene. “Locating Stephanie Strickland’s True North. Rebooting Electronic Literature: Documenting Pre-Web Born-Digital Literature, Volume 2. Ed. Dene Grigar, Nicholas Schiller, Holly Slocum, Moneca Roath, Kathleen Zoller, Mariah Gwin, and Andrew Nevue. Nouspace Publications, 2019.

Landow, George. Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.