Halloran Software

Halloran Software

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Halloran Software began in October 1985 when John Halloran was dialed into a bulletin board system (BBS) based in Glendale, California, and noticed a message from a woman inquiring if there were any free or inexpensive computer programs for astrology. Having already searched for these, he knew nothing was available, but Halloran, who started studying astrology in the late 1960s, had purchased a copy of Michael Erlewine’s 1980 Manual of Computer Programming for Astrologers. Within two weeks, Halloran had figured out how to bypass the typographical errors in this book and released into the public domain an astrology calculation program that ran in the Basic interpreter on CP/M computers.

Mac programmer David C. Oshel discovered Halloran’s program and rewrote it in modular form, which allowed Halloran to add chart comparison to its capabilities. Version 7, also called ASTROLPC.BAS, was the last version released with source code. When versions 8 and 9 added support for saved charts, a dating service search engine, a transits list, and an on-screen graphic wheel that even the commercial programs did not have at that time, Halloran began charging a modest registration fee to access the program’s more advanced features. By this time, in 1986, IBM PC and XT clones were becoming popular, and Halloran ported the program and compiled it for the IBM PC. In 1987, in response to a complaint from Matrix, Michael Erlewine’s company, Halloran deleted the calculation routines taken from Erlewine’s book and replaced them with faster, more accurate astronomical routines. In addition to collecting shareware registration fees, Halloran sold many program copies from a classified ad in the back of Computer Shopper magazine, from which astrology magazine editors such as Richard Nolle and Kenneth Irving discovered and reviewed the program.

Besides improving his shareware calculation program, Halloran wrote an astrological research program called TimeSearch that reverse-engineers an astrology chart. In collaboration with other programmers, such as John Molfese, author of the Astrodynes program, James Davis, author of the Self Search and Handwriting Analyzer programs, and at the urging of the late Joseph Hettiger, owner of a Texas company selling astrology programs for the Commodore 64 computer, Halloran wrote his first report writer program, LifeTrends, with transits interpretations by San Antonio radio astrologer Deanna Christensen. By 1989, Halloran was able to quit his technical writer/quality assurance job with an HMO data processing department to create and sell astrology software full time.

In June 1990, Halloran Software announced the first version of AstrolDeluxe, which proceeded to sell one thousand copies in the first six months. This program added color printing and advanced calculations, such as progressed and return charts, as well as Chiron and the major asteroids. In the same year, Halloran began a productive collaboration with astrologer/journalism student Janice Barsky, who had written original natal, compatibility, and transits interpretations on her word processor and was cutting and pasting inexpensive reports for clients who could not pay for a professional reading. Out of this collaboration came the StarMatch and Natal Professional report writer programs. The last MS-DOS-based report writer was the hobbyist-priced Natal Profiles program with interpretations by Hollywood-based metaphysical astrologer Carolyne Lacy.

Microsoft’s Windows operating system began to loom on the horizon, so while Halloran worked to finish Natal Professional, he began collaborating with Robert Brown, a Gemini friend who already owned 20 Windows programs, on AstrolDeluxe for Windows, the first copies of which sold in December 1992. The Windows environment allowed this AstrolDeluxe to create graphic chartwheels on any Windows-supported printer without the program having to supply and work with particular printer drivers, which was a big advance. Natal Professional and AstrolDeluxe for Windows also started providing access to the PC Atlas, produced by the company Astro Communications Services founded in San Diego by the late Neil F. Michelsen, based on research by Thomas G. Shanks. Then, for use with the AstrolDeluxe for Windows program, Halloran Software designed TrueType fonts with 130 astrological glyphs and assembled a collection of 4,100 famous charts especially for the program’s data research module, which executes 20 different types of searches.

In December 1994, Halloran Software first released Astrology for Windows, a combination freeware and shareware program. Ed Perrone, moderator of the Astrology RoundTable on the GEnie online network, wrote at the time, “In terms of non-commercial Windows astrology programs (i.e., shareware and freeware), it is really the only contender. I’ve only seen a couple of Windows chart-calculation programs at all, and none of them compare to this one for ease of use, clarity of display, and other features.” A unique feature of this program was to externalize all of its messages and captions, with the result that volunteer translators soon made it available in 14 different languages. For a year, this program could only be downloaded from GEnie and other online networks such as Compuserve and America Online, but in 1996, the Internet took off and Halloran Software launched its own web site from which anyone could download the latest version of Astrology for Windows and order the company’s commercial astrology software.

Beginning in 1996 with version 3, Halloran and Brown integrated a report writing engine into the AstrolDeluxe for Windows calculation program, with the result that after using the program to perform a natal, comparison, transits, progressions, or return chart calculation, a user with the appropriate interpretation files could easily create a customizable 30-page report. AstrolDeluxe ReportWriter gives the user about 70 commands that are like a programming language for custom-designing interpretation reports, and it comes with an easy-to-use interpretations editor. Halloran collaborated with astrologer Tony Louis in developing program features for progressions, career analysis, and return reports.

In 2002, Halloran Software released version 6 of its AstrolDeluxe ReportWriter program. Version 6 runs on 32-bit versions of Windows from Windows 95 to Windows XP, and comes bundled with the full ACS PC Atlas and Carolyne Lacy’s Spirit Success natal interpretations.

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