Electronic AppWrapper

Electronic AppWrapper
Developer(s) Paget Press, Inc.
Initial release 1991
Written in Objective-C
Platform NeXT
Type software distribution

Electronic AppWrapper (EAW) was the first commercial electronic software distribution catalog to collectively manage encryption and provide digital rights for apps, music and media.[1]

Originally, the AppWrapper was a traditional printed catalog, which later developed into the Electronic AppWrapper,[2] offering electronic distribution and software licensing for third party developers on NeXT systems.[3] It is considered to be the first app store.[4]

According to Richard Carey, an employee of Paget Press who was present in 1993, the Electronic AppWrapper was first demonstrated to Steve Jobs by Jesse Tayler at NeXTWorld Expo.[5] The EAW went on to receive recognition from Robert Wyatt [6] of Wired magazine and Simson Garfinkel of NeXTWorld magazine.

An interview with Jesse Tayler, the lead engineer and inventor of EAW, discussed the early days of AppWrapper and how the transition to the foundation of the World Wide Web and his program had similarities.[7]

Some software developers with titles on the EAW have continued over the decades and transitioned into the modern Apple Inc. era. Andrew Stone is one example, who designed programs that were available on the EAW and still designs apps for the App Store today.


In the early 1990s Paget Press, a Seattle based software distribution company, developed the Electronic AppWrapper, which was the first electronic App Store on NeXT

The Electronic AppWrapper started initially as a paper catalog, which was released periodically. The AppWrapper was a combination of both a catalog and magazine, which listed the vast majority of software products available for the NeXT Computer.[8]

Within the first couple of publications, the AppWrapper began to have a digital counterpart, with the introduction of CD-ROM disks in the back of later issues of what then to be called The Electronic AppWrapper.

For the Electronic AppWrapper distribution, encryption and the digital rights of the software were universally managed for all participating developers much like stores participating in a shopping mall.

During the early development of the Electronic AppWrapper, it became the first commercial software distribution catalog to allow digital data encryption and provide digital rights management for apps, music and data.[9] This was a tremendous advance for the independent developers who could not possibly access the financial resources to publish software boxes across the country and the world, in order to reach their audience.

The AppWrapper contained all kinds of various types of software, including general third party applications, music and media.The invention was part of a movement to protect the rights of third party developers, something that today is seen as standard.

Other advantages of the EAW included levelling the playing field for software distribution. It allowed independent or smaller software companies to distribute their apps quickly, and compete with larger companies with more established distribution channels.[10] The EAW also provided ways that software updates could reach existing customers, something that was uncommon at the time.

The product was first demonstrated to Steve Jobs at the NeXTWorld Expo in 1993. The Electronic AppWrapper received recognition later in the year, with a senior editor at NeXTWORLD Magazine, Simson Garfinkel rated The Electronic AppWrapper 4 3/4 Cubes (out of 5), in his formal review. Also, Paget's Electronic AppWrapper was named a finalist in the highly competitive InVision Multimedia '93 awards in January, 1993 and won the Best of Breed award for Content and Information at NeXTWORLD Expo in May, 1993.[11]

Following the development of the AppWrapper and its subsequent use of the early Internet in its early days, The AppWrapper went on to feature in Wired magazine, where they stated that it was at the time the best way to distribute and license software.[12]


The Electronic AppWrapper operated by taking a percentage of each sale of the software it listed. Due to the scale of the operation in the early days, the price was negotiated individually with each developer. It was stated that unlike modern app stores, The Electronic AppWrapper didn't reject apps or software based on its subjective quality.


  1. Garfinkel, Simpson L. "Paget Press launches CD-ROM". http://simson.net. NeXTWorld Magazine. External link in |website= (help)
  2. Geiger, Conrad. "NeXT Nugget News". NeXT Nugget News Digest (vol. 4, issue 11, September 15, 1992).
  3. "What's next? Paget Press's CD-ROM catalog". Highbeam Business Magazine. Catalog Age.
  4. Shebanek, Michael B. "The complete guide to the NEXTSTEP TM user environment". Google Books. TELOS, The Electronic Library of Science.
  5. "Electronic Recollections, By Ricard Carey". App Storey.
  6. http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/2.05/streetcred.html Robert Wyatt
  7. Xhiku, Stela. "Origins of the App Store: The Electronic AppWrapper". Tendigi.
  8. "Origins of the App Store: The Electronic AppWrapper".
  9. "Electronic AppWrapper". Kevra.org.
  10. Rodriguez, Salvador (June 24, 2015). "As NeXT Turns 30, It's Finally Time To Reflect On The Steve Jobs Startup That Gave Us The App Store, iOS And Apple Watch". International Business Times.
  11. Ruby, Dan (August 1993) Our First Annual Awards for NEXTSTEP Product Excellence. NeXTWORLD.
  12. Wyatt, Robert (May 1994). "Software distribution using the Electronic AppWrapper". Wired Magazine.
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