Distant Suns for iOS+10 Years

Posted by on October 26, 2018 in Distant Suns App | 0 comments

Distant Suns for iOS+10 Years

Ten years ago, this week, I got this message from Apple:

Dear Mike Smithwick,

The status for the following application has changed to Ready for Sale.

Application Name: Distant Suns
Application Version Number: 1.0
Application SKU: 2001

That was a Monday. That Friday the Appstore would surpass 10,000 apps! I thought “my goodness! How could I compete against 10-freak’n-thousand apps!

Distant Suns 2 on the iPhone.

Back then it was easy. Quality apps got featured and promoted by Apple, including Distant Suns. The first day I made $800. I had thought it would be cool if I could make $20k. I made that in the first three weeks. And now, ten years later, I still sit down to me desk everyday working this program I started back in 1985.

Distant Suns (originally called Galileo) on the Amiga 1000.

Originally called Galileo* and made for the Commodore Amiga, I had no idea it would be much of my career. I had certainly no concept of anything even remotely resembling the iPad coming to fruition.

Before Galileo came out, the state of the art for desktop planetariums were some MS-DOS applications of varying quality, but perhaps the best known was SkyTravel for the Commodore 64. Amazing work on only a 64K box.

SkyTravel on the C64

Distant Suns migrated from the Amiga, to the Mac (OS 6-9), Windows 3, Windows 95, Linux and finally iOS.

Distant Suns for Windows 95. Hey, It looked cool at the time.

It’s survived publisher bankruptcy, a virus that made it onto one of the CD versions, multiple COMDEXs, rampant piracy, translation to Japanese, French and Italian, name changes, two earthquakes, and has managed to still evoke wonder mixed with a smidgen of awe at the same time.

I want to thank those who over the years have supported my little one-man (with occasional two or three man) effort. Sent praise, some scorn, and many suggestions that help direct future versions. Someone asked me what I would do when I retire. I tell them, travel, work on Distant Suns, play with my cats (Higgs and Boson), teach fifth-graders about astronomy, and collect NASA stuff. Oh, wait, that’s what I’ve been doing for years! Am I lucky or what?

Then and now. Then, is a 23 lb. brass “book,” early 18th century, written in Urdu, supposedly of Orion. Now…Distant Suns.

Hopefully it’ll be able to hang on for another 10 years. But then it would project graphics to the mind with direct neural implants. iBrain! ™


  • My first publisher never trademarked the name. When they went under I had to rename it with Distant Suns coming out of a contest that was held.