Fun looking back on computer magazines

I am enjoying reading old issues of Amiga Format magazine before I go to bed. They’re from about 1990 to 1994 (when the Amiga 600 came out and it started to feel less relevant to me). It all seemed so innocent back then. Games used to fit on 600k floppy disks. Hard drives were optional and cost £300 for just 30Mb of storage. Printers were 9 or 24 pin dot matrix, or black and white inkjet if you had £500 spare. It was like you were on the cusp of computing really becoming a big thing. I have about 30 copies of Amiga Format, along with my working Amiga 500 and hundreds of game disks to reminisce with complete immersion (even if it’s on a flat-screen instead of CRT TV).

There was another personal revolution in about 1996 when PCs started to come down in price and seem much more accessible when ESCOM shops started opening up in high streets around the UK. Processor speed and memory spec seemed to double every 9 months and not increase in price. Now, it all seems to have plateaued somewhat in that department. I remember bringing an ESCOM flyer in and giving it to my computing teacher to show how cheap PCs had become. Within a month our school’s computing room had done away with the old Archimedes computers and replaced them with new ESCOM PCs. I should have been on commission! My first PC was an ESCOM Pentium 75MHz with 8Mb of Ram, an 890Mb HD, SoundBlaster sound card, quad speed CD ROM drive and a 14″ CRT monitor. Windows 3.11 was the operating system, and an HP Deskjet 660C colour inkjet printer finished it off. It ended up costing about £2,500.00 in total. Later we got speakers, a hand-held scanner (which looked like a fat mouse that you pulled over what you wanted to scan), then an HP flat bed scanner.

I only seem to have 1 PC magazine – a copy of PC Plus (about an inch thick) from 1992.

Only later did we get a dial-up modem to connect to the internet. I had signed up for a Hotmail email account at school using their ISDN connection on one of only 2 computers connected. This was in about 1996 or 1997 I believe. It was the original design of Hotmail before Microsoft bought them out. You could get about 5k data download per second on a good day. I signed up for a Geocities web hosting account and learned manual coding HTML. A .com domain name cost about £200 back then, so consideration was given to that for my parents’ business. I hand-coded a website with online ordering (back in 1998) somewhat before the online shopping revolution had really caught on. I think we were all surprised when any orders actually came through!

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