Computer Emporium

From Eamon Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This is a Class B (silver star) article.

Coordinates: 41°37′47″N 93°40′04″W / 41.62980°N 93.66775°W / 41.62980; -93.66775

The Computer Emporium storefront in the Walnut Center

The Computer Emporium was a retail computer hardware and software store that operated in Des Moines, Iowa (and later in West Des Moines) from January 1978 into the 1990s and was the first distributor of Eamon software.


Iowa native Richard Skeie was working as a computer programmer in California in the 1970s when he noticed the first retail computer stores beginning to appear. Wanting to capitalize on the trend, he returned to Iowa and in early 1978 opened a store called The Computer Emporium, one of the first computer hardware and software retailers in the Des Moines area. The market was slow to develop and the emporium struggled for the first couple of years, but by 1980 it was thriving and Skeie was helping other Des Moines entrepreneurs found their own stores.

One of the Emporium's regulars was Donald Brown, a Drake University student and aspiring computer programmer. Brown in 1979 had created the first version of his text adventure game The Wonderful World of Eamon and he began distributing it to employees and customers of the Emporium, including John Nelson who bought his first Apple II there in 1980. Emporium employee Jim Jacobson joined Brown in creating some of the early adventures for the Eamon system.

In 1981, Skeie, Brown, and colleague John S. Kirk ventured beyond computer retail into software development and began CE Software as the programming arm of the company. Initially focused on producing games like SwordThrust and Wall Street by Brown and Mission Escape by Jacobson, CE Software soon moved on to productivity software and grew quickly. In 1985 Skeie sold his interest in the Computer Emporium to his brother Randy and dedicated himself full time to CE Software.

The Computer Emporium was originally located at 3711 Douglas Avenue in Des Moines; by mid-1981 it had moved to 801 73rd Street, a location it remained at until May or June 1986 when it moved to Governor Square Mall at 2700 University Avenue in West Des Moines.