R.I.P. Personal Computer World 1978 – 2009

I was sad to learn of the demise of one of the UK’s longest running computer magazines.

I started reading it not long after it’s launch, and before I owned my first computer. I learnt a lot from it and it helped me over the years as a bought my various computers. It even carried program listings for my Sinclair ZX-81 and QL. I still have a wall-chart they gave away that shows all the BASIC commands and their syntax for all the popular operation systems of the time (around 1983) which allowed you to take a listing published for, say, the BBC micro and workout how to convert it to run on a Sinclair Spectrum.

When I moved over to the Amgia in 1991, I abandoned the magazine for a number of years, but went back to it when I got my own IBM PC in the mid 90’s.

By the late 90’s, before the World Wide Web had taken hold, it was at it’s height. At this stage it was over 3 cms thick – only the first centimetre was actual content – the rest was advertisements. From 2000 onward, the thickness of the magazine acted as a physical bar graph that showed the trend towards it’s inevitable demise. The most recent editions where only around a half cm thick.

In my opinion it as was WWW than signaled the magazine’s death. Physical adverts became less relevant as the web grew, and the magazine also saw competition from the many technical websites which offered that same information for free. The other reason, I feel, is it’s decision to define narrowly Personal Computer as IBM PC. In it’s early days it embraced all personal computer systems, Sinclair/Tandy/Commodore/Apple/IBM, whatever. With the domination of the PC they virtually abandoned all other platforms – this was fine for PC users, but when people like me started to look to Linux, and eventually to Macs – there was no longer any reason to buy the magazine. I cancelled my subscription shortly after I moved over to my first Mac around 5 years ago.

Anyway, I’d like to put on record my gratitude for all that PCW taught me over the years.