A Brief History of Astrolabe

Originally incorporated as Astro-Graphics Services, Inc., Astrolabe, Inc. was founded in 1979 by Robert Hand and a group of fellow astrologers - Arthur Blackwell, Steve Blake, Gary Christen and Patricia White. Starting with programs for the Radio Shack TRS-80 and the Apple II, over the last 30 years it has produced astrological and other programs for CP/M-compatible, Commodore, Macintosh and IBM-compatible personal computers. In addition to a large line of other software, it is now publishing the first major Windows astrological programs in the English-speaking world.

Currently Astrolabe, Inc. employs eight people at its headquarters in Brewster, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. It has a semi-autonomous division in Great Britain and direct-mail customers in countries from Argentina to Zimbabwe.

Check out the Astrolabe photo gallery page

Some highlights of Astrolabe's software history

In 1980, with the release of Astro-Scope, Astro-Graphics became the first company to produce horoscope-reading programs for microcomputers. Various astrological calculation programs followed, together with a full line of natal, forecast, relationship and numerology delineation programs.

In 1984, Robert Hand issued his first version of Nova, a refinement of astrological calculation programs he had been writing since 1977. This became the centerpiece for the Nova System, a series of interlocking calculation programs including Chartwheels, Timegraphs, Printwheels, Professional Natal Report and others.

In 1984 the company also took over distribution of Mark Pottenger's CCRS Horoscope Program, a uniquely powerful calculation program specially suited for astrological experiment and research.

In 1989 it released the AstroAnalyst by Bill Meridian and Robert Hand. This remains the premier program for determining the effect of astronomical cycles on stock, bond and commodities prices.

In 1992 it released Printwheels DTP, the first astrological program designed specifically for desktop publishing. It has followed this with astrological fonts and other programs that can send images to graphics files for use in drawing, painting, word-processing and page makeup programs. The latest program with DTP features is Nova Chartwheels.

In 1993 Astrolabe was approached by Esoteric Technologies Pty Ltd of Australia to become the worldwide publisher for Solar Fire and other programs for the Windows operating system. First released in Australia in 1992, Solar Fire has become the major Windows astrological calculation program in the English-speaking world. Currently in Version 8, Solar Fire can exchange chart files with most other IBM-compatible programs from Astrolabe and other astrological software producers.

Other Projects

Astrolabe also maintains an astrological calculation service, and it has developed various books and astrological tools. A recognized authority on astrological techniques and calculations, over the years Astrolabe has also given technical assistance to numerous other astrological businesses and software houses. Some notable products are:

Non-Commercial Activities

Beyond being a business, Astrolabe is a resource and learning center. Its meeting rooms have been used for a variety of astrological classes, as well as for the lectures and study groups of the Cape Cod Chapter of the National Council for Geocosmic Research.

During the 1980s the company collaborated with the Cape Cod NCGR to produce astrological Master Classes: five-day courses on advanced astrological topics that drew professional astrologers from all over the U.S. and beyond. In 1980 the topic was astronomy; in 1981 it was Hindu, off-the-ecliptic, Uranian and sidereal techniques; in 1982 it was harmonics; in 1983 the history of astrology; and in 1985 the application of social-science research techniques to astrology.

Astrolabe's Founder

ROBERT HAND, Astrolabe's founder, is well known among astrologers. In 1960 he was introduced to astrology by his father, Wilfred C. Hand, who used heliocentric planetary positions to predict stock prices. He continued doing astrology while studying the history and philosophy of science at Brandeis University, the University of California at Berkeley, and Princeton University. He has written five highly acclaimed books (Planets in Transit, Planets in Composite, Planets in Youth, Horoscope Symbols and Essays on Astrology) and many articles and prefaces. He has also lectured throughout Europe and in India, Australia and New Zealand. From 1972-1990, he served as a director of the National Council for Geocosmic Research, and was Chairman from 1990-1999.

Among the many honors Hand has received are the United Astrology Congress' (UAC) first Regulus Award for Astrological Innovation and Research in 1989 and, as one of the principals of Project Hindsight, he received that award again in 1995. In 2008, also from UAC, he received the rarely given Lifetime Achievement Award at the United Astrology Conference in 2008. In addition, he holds the Southern Cross Award from the Federation of Australian Astrologers, the Neil Michelsen Award from the Global Research Forum, and appointment as a Patron of the Faculty of Astrological Studies in Great Britain.

In 1977 Robert Hand began writing astrological programs for personal computers, and in 1979 he gathered several of his astrological colleagues to found Astro-Graphics Services (now Astrolabe) to make the benefits of computers available to other astrologers.

Rob is currently focusing his attention on traditional astrology, publishing translations by himself and others of ancient and medieval works, as well as new works on traditional astrology through ARHAT, the Archive for the Retrieval of Historical Astrological Texts. He also has a thriving astrological consulting practice.

Back to Top