With a heavy heart, I tearfully announce the passing of Steve Bjork, a beloved pioneer in the world of computer gaming and a key figure in the Tandy Color Computer (CoCo) community. Steve’s career, marked by ingenuity and programmatic mastery, spanned over two decades, leaving an enduring legacy in the world of the CoCo and personal computing at large.
In the early years of computing, you could find him mingling with the likes of Steve Wozniak and Adam Osborne at the Homebrew Computer Club in Menlo Park. And just like these other pioneers of the computing age, Steve’s contributions weren’t limited to game development. He used his soldering iron just as much as he did the keyboard. He learned in college the importance of knowing both the hardware and the software side of a computer, and found great success in being able to handle both sides of the computer.
He took what he learned through The Homebrew Computer Club, in high school and college, and his experiences on the job at Radio Shack selling computers, and created hardware that found it’s uses across store shelves. He was particularly proud of his ability to corner the market on light pens by designing an inexpensive pen with good software. This was one of his personal favorite early accomplishments.
Steve then began his remarkable game making journey. His first published game was created in 1980, called “Space Ball” for the TRS-80 line of computers. This was an early showcase of his knack for games programming. Over the next few years he embedded himself as a cornerstone of the CoCo world, introducing classics like “Popcorn!” and “Audio Spectrum Analyzer” in 1981 and “Zaxxon” in 1983, a remarkable adaptation of the arcade favorite. He continued to make a multitude of game through the 80s like “Rampage” in 1989 and even into the 90s and spanning new console systems like “The Rocketeer” for the SNES. His games, known for their clever design and charm, brought joy to countless coconuts and gamers.
Steve’s greatest legacy is how deeply he inspired the entire community around the CoCo. You could find him at many Rainbowfests and CoCoFESTs, and other events over the years, even becoming a CoCo spokesman of sorts. He would speak, and teach others, and he would enjoy seeing what everybody was working on. Without Steve Bjork, the Color Computer would almost certainly have failed to become one of the most popular and beloved 8-bit machines that it is today.
As we say goodbye to Steve, we remember him for his kind spirit, his wonderful works, and his unwavering dedication to the art of game development and hardware design. His contributions and his passion have not only shaped the gaming world but have also touched the lives of countless individuals.
Steve leaves behind a legacy of innovation, inspiration, and innumerable fond memories in the hearts of those who played his games, used his hardware, and knew him. I want to extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends, and the CoCo community. Rest in peace, Steve Bjork. May your memory and your creations and the CoCo you loved so much live on forever.