Tag Archives | Computer magazines

Steve Jobs: The Computer Magazine Covers

When I was editor of PCWorld and spent endless hours thinking about computer-magazine covers, we had lots of theories about what people didn’t want to see on them. One was depictions of human beings: In all my time there, I don’t believe we ever once used a photo of a person, and even drawings of them tended to intimidate us. We also thought that anything that anyone might construe as being negative rather than relentlessly upbeat was a turn-off. I suspect that other computer magazines the world over harbor similar theories.

But Steve Jobs’ passing on October 5th was a unique moment in computing history. And as an ex-computer magazine person, I’m fascinated by how the computer magazines that are still around chose to handle the news, which many of them put on their covers. The issues that do so are just now coming out–read on, and I’ll show you some of them, borrowed from Zinio and other sources.

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Pioneering Videogame Journalist Passes On

I haven’t thought about Bill Kunkel, Arnie Katz, or Electronic Games magazine in years, but I loved it back in the day and was saddened to hear of Kunkel’s death in this New York Times obituary:

Mr. Kunkel and his friend Arnie Katz are widely credited with starting the first published gaming column, called “Arcade Alley,” which began appearing in Video magazine in 1978.

The column, a monthly look at new video game hardware and software, drew more readers as home gaming systems became popular in the in the late 1970s and early 1980s. By 1981, around two million home systems were in use in the United States.

To cater to those new consumers, Mr. Kunkel and Mr. Katz teamed up with Joyce Worley to start a monthly magazine, Electronic Games, which had a circulation of more than 250,000 at its peak. The magazine coined descriptive terms like “screenshot,” for a still image of a game, and “play mechanics,” for the way a game is played.


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Good Grief, BYTE is Coming Back!

The December 1975 BYTE cover, the first by Robert Tinney

What’s the most-loved computer magazine of all time? There’s really only one contender: BYTE, which was founded in 1975 and ceased print publication a dozen years ago. If you worked in computer magazines, as I did, you got used to old-timers comparing your publication unfavorably to BYTE. (And actually, come to think of it, BYTE aficonados also liked to compare the current BYTE unfavorably to BYTE as it was in its golden age–which lasted roughly from its inception until the magazine stopped running a cover painting by Robert Tinney on every issue circa 1987. It remained a very solid publication until the end, though.)

BYTE was one of the first major computer magazines (it was preceded by the similarly influential Creative Computing); it was the first massively successful one; it spawned BIX, an online service which I still miss. Most important, it was just plain good–well-written, well-edited, and as sophisticated and technical as the people who read it. (I learned a lot from Phil Lemmons, a BYTE editor who later became my boss at PC World.) Its review of the original Mac is a nice example of what made BYTE, well, BYTE.

It died  shortly after tech publisher CMP acquired it and the rest of McGraw-Hill’s tech division in 1998. Given the resonance of the BYTE name, shutting it down seemed like an odd, ill-advised move at the time, even though the magazine, once morbidly obese with advertising, was no longer a cash cow. CMP did keep the Web site alive for years, in increasingly unambitious form, but even that bit the dust a few years ago.

But now United Business Media–the current owner of what was once CMP–is brining BYTE back. BYTE.com is relaunching in the second quarter of next year, and my friend Gina Smith will be the editor.

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