The End of Computer Magazines in America

Harry McCracken, writing at Technologizer:

The April issues of Maximum PC and MacLife are currently on sale at a newsstand near you — assuming there is a newsstand near you. They’re the last print issues of these two venerable computer magazines, both of which date to 1996 (and were originally known, respectively, as Boot and MacAddict). Starting with their next editions, both publications will be available in digital form only.

But I’m not writing this article because the dead-tree versions of Maximum PC and MacLife are no more. I’m writing it because they were the last two extant U.S. computer magazines that had managed to cling to life until now. With their abandonment of print, the computer magazine era has officially ended. [...]

I take the loss personally, and not just because computer magazines kept me gainfully employed from 1991-2008. As a junior high student and Radio Shack TRS-80 fanatic, I bought my first computer magazine in late 1978, three years after Byte invented the category. It was a momentous enough moment in my life that I can tell you what it was (the November-December 1978 issue of Creative Computing) and where I got it (Harvard Square’s Out of Town News, the same newsstand that had played a critical role in the founding of Microsoft just four years earlier). Even before I purchased that Creative Computing , our mailman had misdelivered a neighbor’s copy of Byte to our house, an error I welcomed and did not attempt to correct. From the moment I discovered computer magazines, I loved them almost as much as I loved computers, which is why I ended up working in the field for so long.

As McCracken himself notes, it’s impossible to overstate the essential role computer magazines played before the web. I read Macworld and MacUser cover-to-cover every month. Magazines were how you learned to do stuff, how you learned about new applications and new hardware products, how you learned what you might want to buy. When I eventually started writing occasional back-page columns for Macworld, it was an indescribable thrill.

Tuesday, 18 April 2023