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Software Developer Accuses Apple Of Censoring History CD-ROM

February 8, 1995

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Apple Computer Inc., known for its progressive technology and cultural attitude, is being accused of censorship.

Software publisher Voyager Co. claims Apple is dropping one of its CD-ROMs programs from computers sold to schools because it would not eliminate discussion of homosexuality, birth control and abortion in the program.

``They can say that it’s business, but they are bowing to a special interest. To me that’s censorship,″ Voyager spokesman Braden Michaels said Wednesday.

But Apple said Voyager is wrong and bristled at the accusation.

``Apple as an employer and a corporate citizen has a well-documented history of supporting diversity, and we continue to do so. This is not an issue of censorship,″ said Apple spokeswoman Stacey Byrnes.

She said Apple was considering customer complaints about the disc ``Who Built America?″ but has not made a decision about its distribution.

Voyager, based in New York, specializes in educational software on history, music and art. Since December, its ``Who Built America?″ has been sold with Apple computers to elementary and secondary schools.

The disc, based on a book of the same name, looks at the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It includes film clips, music and illustrations of the period as well as first-person accounts.

Among them are an 1882 letter in which a gay man recounts his emigration to America and a recorded interview with a New York woman recalling her 12 abortions.

Voyager said Apple told the company in January it had received complaints about the disc. Apple asked Voyager to make a version without the topics but the company refused, Michaels said.

Voyager offered to send schools that object to ``Who Built America?″ any CD-ROM from its catalog and suggested that the disc be limited to high schools. Apple turned down the compromise, Michaels said, and decided not to include the disc in its models for schools anymore.

Apple, however, disputed that account.

``To date Apple has neither formally notified Voyager or ... made a decision regarding the content of future versions of the bundles. As of today, Apple continues to distribute (the disc),″ Byrnes said.

The company routinely reviews customer response and uses it to help decide what programs to distribute, she said.

Apple is the second-largest maker of personal computers in the United States. In addition to its computers, the company is known for its liberal workplace policies, including benefits for the domestic partners of gay and lesbian employees.

That policy in 1993 sparked a battle between Apple and Williamson County, Texas, commissioners, who initially refused to grant Apple tax breaks on an office complex because they didn’t like Apple’s domestic partners benefits.

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