Launched in January of 1970, the S&T Supplement was a product of the times. The S & T Supplement's masthead proudly proclaimed that the "primary purpose is to give the readers of S&T the opportunity to say pretty much whatever they like." They went on to support the idea that every reader is an editor with a red pencil in their pocket, implying the response of the readers would be the arbiters of what should appear in the newsletter. Which is to say, 'Down with authorities!' As I said, a product of the times.
The S&T Supplement was published on the off-month cycle of Strategy &Tactics magazine, which at the time these began, did not yet have games inside. But Strategy &Tactics did try to look like a professional magazine, and it did try to pick the best writers, and shape what the articles would be about.
The S&T Supplement was anything but professional in its look. The emphasis was on the information. A stapled 24 page newsletter, it had articles that were clearly typed onto boilerplate layout pages, with a minimum of graphics. At the start, the graphics were page numbers and article headers, created with the 'rub on' lettering of the day.
If the newsletter design work was rudimentary, it tossed open the door of access to articles provided by readers, and encouraged what we would today see as crowd sourced materials. These articles were generally created by amateur historians who researched the information and wrote the articles. Most often, they dealt with Orders of Battle for military units that could then be used in miniature or board wargaming simulations.
Published by Poultron Press, the forerunners of SPI, who were already producing the 'Test Series Games' with the same physical quality of these newsletters, their chosen business name spoke volumes. Poultron was an implied rebuke of established peers and experts. They embraced the ideals of the 1960s believing the truths in the published work, not the name of the producers, were the important points. They championed youthful enthusiasm to triumph over tired old sages; Quality of the facts over the quality of the presentation; and the all important idea that getting the information NOW was much more important than getting it sometime in the future. And they intrinsically grasped that desire for profits and personal aggrandizement was the cause of the delay, so a group effort could overcome the drag effect the desire for profit caused.
The idea was groundbreaking, and it pulled together young people entering their adult years, and kept them plugged into a hobby that was maturing at the same time they were. It was a hobby that in America previously catered only to kids, and this newsletter was the beginnings of breaking down that wall of separation.
The S&T Supplement could be seen
as the step that tied the article authors (and likely already gamers) into a
group of implied 'members' of the company. The newsletter created a channel
for two-way conversation between the readers and the company, and it honed
the skills of more writers for the actual S&T magazine. This
in turn would expand its reach, and provide the games to the public that was
demanding them. It was a revolving wheel of synergy, and it all occurred as
Poultron was making the step that would create SPI.
Of course, you know that, or you wouldn't be reading this. Enjoy.
Special thanks to Kerry Anderson and Mark Guttag for providing these rare newsletters. It is a gift to the SPI community, as printed copies of these have commanded high prices. Like the original spirit of SPI, these gentlemen are giving back to their hobby by providing these scans.
Currently, only the linked issues are available.
The rest require a bit more work due to their odd print size.
Below are the links to these articles. As they are 2 to 17 meg each, I suggest you right-click the link and download them.
This site was last updated 02/10/19