Rainbird Logo

The History of Rainbird Software


TelecomSoft’s first year was certainly eventful and was considered a resounding success. However, Tony Rainbird felt something was missing from the company’s portfolio.

What Tony came up with was a new publishing label that would be distinctly different from Firebird in regards to quality, content and price, concentrating more on the new 16-bit computers. His concept was to publish cutting edge adventures, simulations and utilities on a new label called Bluebird, complete with blue packaging to help it stand out amongst the crowd of other software labels.

Terry Finnegan was once again asked to create a logo. The large ice-blue bird with the huge wingspan was a perfect companion to the iconic Firebird logo he designed before. However, as with the proposed Firefly Software being renamed to Firebird, BT’s Intellectual Property Unit discovered that the Bluebird name was already in use.

BT Chief Executive Richard Hooper suggested the name Rainbird as an appropriate alternative, which was quickly agreed despite Tony’s personal misgivings about the eponymous title. The existing logo and blue box motif were retained, but very little additional money was spent on promoting the new label. In order to be profitable, marketing costs had to be kept lean. Instead, the label relied on the PR effort for individual titles, involving the programmers and the packaging to help promote the quality image, although an early advert for the Art Studio and Music System was published to highlight the excellent reviews those utilities were getting.

The Music System - Commodore 64 manual (cover)

Rainbird’s launch titles were 8-bit and 16-bit products, spread across the genres Tony felt they should be covering. The OCP Art Studio and The Music System were amongst the first to be signed, and it helped that they were both finished utilities that could be published quickly.

Unfortunately, both titles suffered from the heavy margins expected by the software distributors and retailers at the time. High royalties and low sales compared to games meant that neither title made much of a profit. They did however help to establish Rainbird’s reputation for publishing quality software even if they didn’t make anyone any money.

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