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A Brief History of AstrologyLand

Computers were made for astrology, although it took some astrologers a little time to recognize that fact. Astrologer Michael Erlewine founded Matrix Software in 1977 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the first company to create astrology computer programs and make them available to the general public. In fact, there is only one software company still in business on the Internet that is older than Matrix, and that is a little company called Microsoft.

Erlewine, who had been programming on programmable calculators since the early 1970s, switched to home computers the moment they became available. He became the first astrologer to program astrology programs on microcomputers and to make them available to other astrologers. Erlewine at first sent out his programs at no charge to all who asked for them, but soon so many were asking that he had no time for clients and other work. That was how Matrix Software as a business got started.

Michael Erlewine was soon joined at Matrix by his astrologer-brother Stephen Erlewine, who had some years before established —Circle Books,— one of the most influential metaphysical bookstores in North America. Stephen published early-on the —Circle Book of Charts,— a landmark collection of celebrity data, complete with hundreds of hand-drawn charts. When Michael Erlewine relocated to Big Rapids, Michigan to raise a family in 1980, Stephen soon followed and the two brothers made the company what it is today.

Prior to Matrix Software, astrologers did their charts using complex log tables, interpolation techniques, and a pencil and paper or, at best, a 4-function calculator. Some astrologers even tried to make an argument that the age-old ritual look-up tables had some special meaning in themselves and that computers inherently had no —soul.— This retro attitude did not last long and astrologers quickly came to depend on and love their computers. Today it would be difficult to find a professional astrologer who does not do charts on a computer. Creating charts with Log tables is already a forgotten art.

From the beginning, Michael Erlewine was primarily interested in the —meaning— of astrology rather than about computers or programming. He had to teach himself the rudiments of programming on handheld-programmable calculators in the early 1970s in an attempt to research techniques for which there were at that time no books or tables, techniques like Local Space, modern astrophysics, heliocentrics, and so on. Erlewine published his first book —The Sun Is Shining— in 1975, the first long-range heliocentric ephemeris. Some of his early algorithms were published by Hewlett-Packard. In 1976 he published a complete set of hand-drawn star maps for astrologers, —Interface,— a book on heliocentric planetary nodes, and —Astrophysical Directions,— the first astrological exploration of the astrophysics of deep space. This was before the advent of microcomputers and he had to do all the calculations on handheld calculators, in the beginning on just 4-function calculators and later on the programmables.

Not all astrologers welcomed the computer. When the Erlewines published an astrological calendar with a computer (with an astrological program on its screen) on the cover in the late 1970s, they received a letter from a nationally- known astrologer berating them for in any way associating computers with astrology. Astrologers were at that time quite computer-phobic, even though the computer was to eventually liberate them in such a significant way.

The same thing happened when Matrix pioneered Astro*Talk, their series of interpretive-report-writing software. These programs printed out complete astrological interpretation reports that astrologers could make available to their clients for a fee. Erlewine recalls a hot debate on these new interpretive reports at an AFA Convention forum discussion, where one astrologer burst into tears at the shame of allowing these computer-generated reports to even enter the field.

In the beginning, well-known astrologers would buy report writing software on the QT, not wanting other astrologers to know they even used them. Of course, the rest is history. The fact is these reports generated enormous revenue for professional astrologers, where suddenly they could make available a $10-$25 report to clients who could not afford a full sit-down session. One client reported selling over $300,000 of reports from a single $300 Matrix program investment.

Over the years, Matrix has held dozens of in-depth conferences and meetings, featuring some of the most distinguished astrologers of the time, speakers like Dane Rudhyar, Michel Gauquelin, Charles Harvey, Charles Jayne, Robert Hand, Theodor Landscheidt, Noel Tyl, Roger Elliot, Geoffrey Dean, John Townley, Robert Schmidt, and scores of others. In the late 1970s, Michael Erlewine and Charles Jayne teamed up to create ACT (Astrological Conferences on Techniques), a popular round-table forum that appeared for years at astrological conference such as those of the American Federation of Astrologers and the United Astrological Conference. In the 1980s, Michael Erlewine established the —Heart Center Astrological Library,— probably the largest library of its kind in the world and he remains the curator today.

Matrix Software has pioneered a number of astrological techniques aside from their initial calculations, hi-res chart wheels, and report-writing programs, including the first programs that performed simple astrological database research, programs that actually spoke astrology (audio) and astrology (voice-over) videos. Matrix helped to produce the award-winning Time-Life Astrology CD-ROM and has won scores of online awards. Matrix was also an early pioneer in online and internet-content, creating (at the request of Microsoft) the New-Age Forum on MSN, their own site, and Matrix helped to launch Astro*Net (AOL), which eventually became

Michael Erlewine took a leave of absence from Matrix in the late 1990s and created a number of large entertainment-content sites on the web, the All-Music Guide (, the All-Movie Guide (, and others.

In 2008, Michael rejoined Matrix and continues as the director of Matrix along with his brother Stephen as lead programmer. Matrix Software continues to this day to provide astrologers in more than 120 countries with professional astrological software.

Michael Erlewine - Founder/Director

Michael Erlewine is an internationally-known astrologer with over 40 years of experience as an author, teacher, and counselor. Aside from founding Matrix Software (the first astrological software company), Erlewine is also an Internet content pioneer, founding sites like,,,, and many others. He has authored more than 22 books on astrology (available on and over a dozen books on music and film. You can Google —Michael Erlewine— or go to —— for more details.

Erlewine can be reached at and through the websites and
Stephen Erlewine - Head-Programmer

Stephen began the study of astrology in 1965, opened Circle Books, an astrological bookstore in 1968, and began publishing the Circle Books astrological calendar in 1969. In 1972 he published the Circle Book of Charts, a collection of charts for famous individuals over centuries. For centuries where no where no ephemeris was available, he had the help of one of the earliest astrological computer programs being developed by Thomas Shanks. In 1979 he bought a Commodore Pet and taught himself to program. He soon was working on code for Matrix which was started by his brother, Michael. In 1980 he started working full time for Matrix.

Stephen can be reached at
Johan Kruger - Programmer

Johan's love for music is nearly as great as his love for tennis. If you don't find him behind the computer, you can be sure he is on the tennis courts around Michigan or behind the keys of his musical instruments.

For the last 10 years, he has been programming for Matrix, either from the office or from his home near Big Rapids.

Johan can be reached at
Martin Machnowski -
Graphic Designer/Web Master
Martin was born in Caracas, Venezuela, a long time ago. He moved to the United States in January 1994. He began working at Matrix Software in May of 1998 as a Graphic Designer. He now works on catalogs, logos, packages, web pages, etc. Martin is married and has one daughter and granddaughter.

Martin can be reached at
or visit his web site
Tanya Guild - Customer Service/Sales

Tanya has been in the customer service/sales business for over 13 years. Currently the office manager for Matrix Software.

I have two wonderful children both going through their teenage years right now. One is a youth hockey player and the other is in dance.

Tanya can be reached at
Drew Rees - Technical Support

Drew is originally from the U.K. but has lived in the U.S. and Canada as well.
He has made a career out of helping people with computer issues for 16 years and has been using computers since he was 13. Drew still remembers his first computer a Tandy 1000hx with fond memories. Drew is married to a wonderful wife, has two young children and 15 horses.

Drew can be reached at
Michael Anne Erlewine -
Customer Service/Shipping
Michael Anne, aside from her part-time work with Matrix, is a singer/songwriter and an artist, well known for her large murals throughout Michigan. She was also two-time state champion cross country runner, and attended the University of Michigan on a track scholarship.

Michael Anne can be reached at