Brøderbund Software was an American computer game company founded in February 1980 by Doug Carlston, a semi-professional programmer of TRS-80 games, with his brother Gary. (The name "Brøderbund," which is "brotherhood" in broken Danish, first appeared in Doug's first game, Galactic Empire.) Along with Sierra Online, Brøderbund was one of the dominant publishers of the early 1980s, soliciting games from independent programmers (of which Jordan Mechner and Will Wright would become the most famous) to publish primarily on the Apple ][, Atari 8-Bit Computers and Commodore 64. Brøderbund's early hits also included non-game software, such as the word processor Bank Street Writer and the desktop publishing program The Print Shop.
Brøderbund had close ties to Japanese video game companies from its very first year, when it began to distribute games from the Japanese company Starcraft, which would publish several Brøderbund games in Japan. Several Brøderbund games were ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System early on, by Hudson Soft and Irem. By 1987, Brøderbund had a subsidiary publishing its own games in Japan.
As the 1990s progressed, the company focused increasingly on edutainment software, eventually creating a new label, Red Orb Entertainment. It also published some non-game software, including The Print Shop.
Unfortunately, despite its focus on edutainment (or because of it, though The Last Express helped), Brøderbund was a money-losing company, and was bought by The Learning Company Inc. (actually a Canadian CD-ROM company which bought the original The Learning Company and changed its name to reflect that) for $400 million, laid off most of its workforce, was bought by Mattel just a year later, and the whole thing (Mattel Interactive) was a big money-loser (The Learning Company, likewise, was losing money), they eventually sold that off.
Today, the only remnants of Brøderbund include a line of software sold by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (and notably missing the "ø") and some of Ubisoft's products (which bought the entertainment division, continuing the Prince of Persia franchise and selling sequels to Myst).
Games published by Brøderbund include:
- Alien Tales (also known as Reading Galaxy)
- American Girl
- The American Girls Premiere
- The American Girls Premiere 2nd Edition
- The American Girls Dress Designer
- Your Notebook with Help from Amelia
- The Ancient Art of War
- Ancient Land of Ys (Western PC version)
- The Battle of Olympus (Western localization)
- The Carmen Sandiego series
- The Castles of Doctor Creep
- Cosmic Soldier: Psychic War (Western PC version)
- Cosmopolitan Virtual Makeover (sublicensed to Hearst Communications; aimed towards girls; Western localization)
- David's Midnight Magic
- Deadly Towers (Western localization)
- Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball (Western localization)
- The Guardian Legend (Western localization)
- In the 1st Degree
- Karateka (D3 Publisher still owns the rights)
- Kid Pix
- The Last Express (later bought out by Interplay Entertainment)
- Legacy of the Wizard (Western localization)
- Living Books
- Lode Runner
- Logical Journey of the Zoombinis
- Prince of Persia
- Prince of Persia 2
- Shufflepuck Café
- SimCity (before Maxis got on its feet as an independent company and later bought out by Electronic Arts as an official product brand due to their success of The Sims)
- Spelunker (originally published by MicroGraphicImage)
- Star Blazer
- Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
- Wibarm (Western PC version)