Computer magazines are about computers and related subjects, like networking and the Internet. Most computer magazines offer (or offered) advice, a few offer programming tutorials, reviews of the latest technologies, and advertisements.

History

1970s-1980s

Dr Dobbs Journal is one of the oldest computer magazines still being published, and it was the first to focus on software, rather than hardware.

1980s computer magazines skewed their content towards the hobbyist end of the then-microcomputer market, and used to contain type-in programs, but these have gone out of fashion. The first magazine devoted to this class of computers was Creative Computing. Byte was an influential technical journal that published until the 1990s.

By late 1983 more than 200 computer magazines existed. Their numbers and size grew rapidly with the industry they covered, and BYTE and 80 Micro were among the three thickest magazines of any kind per issue. Computers were the only industry with product-specific magazines, like 80 Micro, PC Magazine, and Macworld; their editors vowed to impartially cover their computers whether or not doing so hurt their readers' and advertisers' market, while claiming that their rivals pandered to advertisers by only publishing positive news. Many magazines, however, didn't survive the video game crash of 1983, which badly hurt the home-computer market. Dan Gutman, the founder of Computer Games, recalled in 1987 that "the computer games industry crashed and burned like a bad night of Flight Simulator—with my magazine on the runway". Antic's advertising sales declined by fifty percent in 90 days. Computer Gaming World stated in 1988 that it was the only one of the 18 colour magazines that covered computer games in 1983 to survive the crash. Compute! similarly stated that year that it was the only general-interest survivor of about 150 consumer-computing magazines published in 1983.

Some computer magazines in the 1980s and 1990s were issued only on disc (or cassette tape, or CD-ROM) with no printed counterpart; such publications are collectively (though somewhat inaccurately) known as disk magazines and are listed separately.

1990s

In a few ways the heyday of printed computer magazines was a period throughout the 1990s, in which a large number of computer manufacturers took out advertisements in computer magazines, so they became quite thick and could afford to carry quite a number of articles in each issue, (Computer Shopper (UK magazine) was a good example of this trend). Some printed computer magazines used to include floppy disks, CD-ROMs, or additional media as inserts; they typically contained software, demos, and electronic versions of the print issue.

2000s-2010s

However, with the rise in popularity of the internet, a large number of computer magazines went bankrupt or transitioned to an online-only existence. Exceptions include Wired magazine, which is more of a technology magazine than a computer magazine.

List of computer magazines

Notable regular contributors to print computer magazines

NameOccupation(s)Magazine(s) (years of regular contributions)
United States Ken ArnoldProgrammerUnix Review (1980s - 1990s)
United Kingdom Charlie BrookerTV comedian, TV reviewer, newspaper columnistPC Zone (1990s)
United States Orson Scott CardScience fiction authorAhoy!, Compute!
United Kingdom Chris CrawfordGame designerBYTE, Computer Gaming World
United States Pamela JonesParalegal, legal bloggerLinux User, others
United Kingdom Stan Kelly-BootleWriter, consultant, programmer, songwriterUNIX Review (1984 - 2000), OS/2 Magazine, Software Development
United States Nicholas NegroponteProfessor, investorWired magazine (1993 - 1998)
United States Jerry PournelleScience fiction authorBYTE (1980 - 2006)
United Kingdom Rhianna PratchettGame scriptwriter, journalistPC Zone
United States Bruce SchneierSecurity specialist, writer, cryptographerWired magazine
United Kingdom Charles StrossScience fiction and fantasy authorComputer Shopper (UK magazine) (1994-2004)