Established in 1980 by computer scientist Walter Bilofsky, The Software Toolworks began as a publisher of software for Heath/Zenith personal computers. The Software Toolworks merged with Software Country in 1986, which was owned by 1960's American radio announcer and late night TV show host Les Crane. Crane assumed the role of CEO and during his tenure the publisher produced early installments in two long-running entertainment software franchises in CHESSMASTER and MAVIS BEACON TEACHES TYPING.
In March 1990, The Software Toolworks acquired software publisher and distributor Mindscape for $40 million. In April 1994, The Software Toolworks and Mindscape were acquired by London-based media group Pearson, plc for approx. $500 million and were renamed to Mindscape.