A Brief History of Solar Fire
by Hank Friedman
Solar Fire was the first astrology program written for Microsoft Windows. As such, its authors, Graham Dawson and Stephanie Johnson, designed Solar Fire from the ground up to conform to Microsoft's Graphical User Interface standards.
This meant that, from its outset, Solar Fire was one of the easiest astrology programs to both learn and to use.
The Evolution of Solar Fire
Version One of Solar Fire was released in 1990. It did not reach many astrologers because the first functional version of Microsoft Windows, version 3, had only just been released, and Microsoft's first really successful version of Windows, version 3.1, didn't come out until 1992.
Version 2.1 of Solar Fire was released in 1994, and made a big splash in the astrology community. It introduced the most powerful "hit listing" in existence, i.e. it was able to create a collated listing of transits, progressions, eclipses, stations, sign and house ingresses, and more. It also offered unparalleled ease-of-use, and great customizing features.
Version 3 of Solar Fire was released in 1995, and was the real breakthrough version of Solar Fire. In fact, it was many years ahead of other astrology programs, and continues to be used by astrologers today.
It introduced the graphical Time Map, a depiction of predictive events (transits, progressions, ingresses, eclipses, etc.) in the most useful form possible: the time range shown across the top of the page (for any range from one day to hundreds of years!), and then each event on one line. The ability to see the overlap and interaction of events was now possible. It was and is such a priceless feature that I created a YouTube video introducing astrologers to its capabilities.
Solar Fire 3 also added other valuable modules including an Ephemeris Generator, Planetarium, and a Chart Wheel Designer.
Version 4 of Solar Fire was released in 1997, and its greatest feature was its Page Designer. Again, Solar Fire's Page Designer is both incredibly easy to use and phenomenally powerful. It inspired me to create two YouTube videos: 1 and 2, to illustrate what an incredible tool it is. Astrologers could now design their own pages for the screen and printer, with charts, tables, graphs, and grids exactly where they wanted them.
Version 5 of Solar Fire was released in 2000, and was bundled with the full ACS atlas at no extra cost. Perhaps the most powerful new feature was Solar Fire's Animate Charts module. With it, you can animate a single wheel, bi- tri- or quad-wheel, or a whole page of wheels. (As a test, I decided to create a page using the Page Designer of three biwheels with transits, progressions, and Solar Arcs around a natal chart, and as expected, the animation showed each set of planets moving at their own rate perfectly). Again, I created a YouTube video tutorial showing off this incredible feature.
Version 5 was packed with incredible advances in astro-computing, including a powerful Eclipse Search module, a great Synastry report, basic astromapping, Traditional Astrology functions, charts with extra points (e.g. asteroids, lots, Fixed Stars, etc.) around them, and an automation module called The Astrologer's Assistant, which enables users to execute a set of jobs (e.g. generate a natal chart, progressed biwheel, hit list, etc.) at the push of a button.
Version 6 of Solar Fire was also called Solar Fire Deluxe, and was released in 2005. For the first time, all of your previous settings (of house system, color, wheel style, etc.) were imported into the new version automatically during the installation.
Solar Fire Deluxe also offered the ability to show stronger aspect lines as thicker, and separating aspects as dotted lines, both wonderful visual aids, especially when applied to its chart animation module (to see when aspects go from applying to separating).
Two of the most powerful additions were its new Chart Search and Electional Search functions. The former allows you to search your chart files, and the latter to search time periods, for a huge set of astrological factors. You can save searches, combine search criteria (e.g. Moon in Cancer and Saturn aspecting the Sun), and even see each of the charts that meet the search criteria in a pop-up preview window.
Version 7 of Solar Fire was also called Solar Fire Gold, and was released in 2008. Solar Fire continued to advance, adding Vedic charting (and dasas), beautiful artistic chart pages, and a full-fledged, beautiful monthly astrological calendar, showing both personal and mundane events.
It also offered "clone charts", a little feature that has proven incredibly useful. You can select any charts you want, and create small pop-up charts that can be placed anywhere on the screen (and resized too). Imagine doing a chart comparison and having each person's chart, and their composite and coalescent charts, and an interaspect grid, all visible. Or view an astromap plus six relocated charts, all at once.
Version 8 of Solar Fire Gold was released in 2011. Its biggest enhancement is the inclusion of the full version of Solar Maps. The astromapping functions are now incredibly enhanced, with Cyclo*Carto*Graphy, superb map interpretation reports, aspect and midpoint lines, powerful zooming, and more.
In addition, version 8 added an Appointments Manager, for astrologers who want to keep track of their clients (and send them email reminders), time and record sessions, etc. The internal ACS Atlas received a major update too, vital for accurate charting.
Version 9 of Solar Fire was released in Spring of 2014. You can see a list of its features here, but my favorite new addition was the Page Browser, which previews every page Solar Fire offers, enabling you to quickly and easily find the pages you want to use.
There are actually many valuable enhancements and new features in Solar Fire 9, including Zodiacal Releasing (an important Traditional Astrology predictive technique), greatly improved Primary Directions, Nakshatra wheels, graphing Financial Data (along with astrological data) in the Graphic Ephemeris, Solar and Lunar Return interpretations, and much more.
Solar Fire, now called Solar Fire Gold, has had a truly wonderful journey. Each release has represented a new milestone, and has been rock-solid from its initial release.
Astrologers throughout the world are blessed to have Solar Fire Gold as their astrology program.
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