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BYTE Magazine (archive.org)
274 points by edward 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 111 comments

Love it. I grew up reading these. Somehow, they made their way to Hyderabad, India, and were sold on the roadside [1] for mere rupees, but had the top 20% of the front cover torn off. I never got that...Maybe a way to prevent re-sale in the US? Anyway, 13-year old me absolutely loved BYTE and PC Magazine from the US and a bunch of Sinclair ZX Spectrum assembler and BASIC books from the UK ("Shiva's friendly micro series"). I used to wait for Sunday to go a-book hunting: a couple of MAD magazines and a BYTE magazine made for a perfect weekend in 1988 :-)

I remember my grandfather's chagrin when he heard that I wanted to spend money on an IBM PC-XT clone rather than a Panasonic VCR (Video Cassette Recorder) [2]. What IS a computer, anyway?? A foolish, expensive toy, pah! He wasn't entirely wrong, of course :-)

I went nuts authoring an Editor in raw machine code, writing TSRs, and trying to hack the higher levels of Montezuma's revenge's by fiddling with it's machine code for a couple of years.

1. https://www.whatshot.in/hyderabad/forgotten-book-bazaars-of-...

2. "The price of Christmas past: £599 for a VHS recorder": https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/19/price-c...

Assuming it worked the same in India, magazine sellers 'returned' unsold copies by sending back just the cover titles to the distributor instead of the whole thing. You were buying the unsold 'returns'.

Can confirm. When I was a teenager you could find dumpsters full of perfectly good books other than that they had their front cover torn off.

Ah, I see, thanks. So these unsold copies somehow made their way to India. Interesting.

When the cover is missing, it usually means a book or magazine was reported as "unsold and destroyed" to the publisher for a refund.

I was a minor figure in the starting of Byte back in, what 1974? Can't remember the year.

I worked with Carl Helmers (original editor, who had a hobbyist micro newsletter already going, dealing with 8008's, etc.) and Dan Fylstra (a friend from high school days in San Diego, later founder of Visicorp, publisher of Visicalc, the first "killer app" in the PC world) at Intermetrics in Cambridge (Fresh Pond), a gov't consulting firm.

Carl and Dan and I went up one summer day to Wayne Green (ham radio magazine publisher)'s place in New Hampshire and hashed out the basics.

I only wrote a couple of articles, helped with editing, and then school hit (I was starting junior year, I think) and I faded out. (Was also working more than full-time at Intermetrics (much more fun than school) while also attending Harvard full-time.)

But it was fun while it lasted...

I knew Dan from systems hacking in high school ('72?) on the IBM 360 out at San Diego State (no idea how I got involved there). Lynn Brock was the head of the systems group there, and Henry Burgess was involved as well.

Dan went on to found Visicorp after MIT and Harvard Business School, Lynn worked with him there to make VisiOn, a much ahead-of-its-time windowing OS for the PC, which eventually brought down VisiCorp, and Henry ended up at Microsoft as Gates's right-hand man for years.

Odd group.

My favourite number, that I kept for years later, was from September/1990.

It had interviews with everyone that was "important" back then (Gates & Allen (MS), Mitch Kapor (Lotus), Doug Engelbart (mouse & GUIs), Tony Hoare (quicksort), Brian Kernigham, Donald Knuth, Bob Metcalfe (Ethernet), Philipe Kahn (Borland), Bob Noyce, Dennis Ritchie (C), Bjarne Stroustroup (C++), Wolfram) predicting the future.

None of them predicted the Internet.

[1] https://archive.org/details/byte-magazine-1990-09

Gordon Bell and Engelbart were surprisingly spot-on regarding connectivity. It seems that for the people who are canonically regarded as visionaries, massive connectivity through tiny devices was obvious. For Bill Gates, not so much.

BYTE: Let's discuss the subject of porta­bility. Do you think we'll have notebook computers or pocket computers? How do you think the size will evolve?

Gordon Bell: The computer will disappear by another 10 years in [its present form]. There will be zero-cost notebook-size computers with one chip in them that will have about 32 megabytes. So people will be carrying around these sort of minicellular, really connected, computers that go into their own databases somewhere.

Doug Engelbart: Everyone’s going to have a computer-carried around, or surgically implanted, or sitting on your hat or your spectacles or what-and they’re all going to be connected into networks just totally, [and] those networks will be wireless.

BYTE: This sounds more like a portable office than a portable computer. Do you really think cellular phones and faxes will enter the notebook arena?

Bill Gates: That's a little radical. I don't think it's necessary. If you can connect up every few hours, that's good enough. The machine in the office will just have this op­tic fiber that will go off to the world net­ work out there. It will directly connect to some kind of server and will have a lot of storage.

Gates' blind spot regarding connectivity and the Internet was still in full effect five years later, when his book The Road Ahead (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Road_Ahead_(Bill_Gates_boo...) came out. I vividly remember sitting there in 1995 reading the hardcover first edition and thinking "man, this guy just does not get it."

Fortunately for Microsoft, he eventually did get it, though only just in time -- not long after the book hit the shelves.

Honestly, a continuous connectivity model was an ambitious bet early on. Wasn't cellular data at the time basically using the phone as a 9600bps modem at astronomical per-minute prices?

If continuous connectivity was unavailable, I could imagine an somewhat different ecosystem developing. We could still have sexy phone/PDA devices, but with software optimized around caching and making use of a transient connection.

For example, "feed" based apps like HN/Reddit/any typical news sources tend to pull the latest feed when you open the app, then load individual articles on request. In a limited-connectivity world, you'd see the app sitting in the background, waiting for Wi-Fi or a sync cable or however it was hooked in, and then pulling as many articles as it could to a local cache, so you could read them completely without data later.

I'm actually surprised this didn't happen much more in countries where data was spotty or expensive and limited.

Wow Bill Gates' perspective is interesting because what is radical now is for a phone to NOT be continuously connected. If my phone has no internet, that is a bad time. So easy to become complacent and rely on an internet connection for pretty much all useful information.

Definitely a gem. Here's a bit on Kapor founding the EFF, while law enforcement compares hackers to rapists:

Lotus founder Mitch Kapor and several industry colleagues have formed an organization they say will fight to ensure the Bill of Rights covers computer-based communication and electronic information. The purpose of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (California, MA), is to combat violations of civil liberties, Kapor says, as well as educate government policymakers, law enforcement agencies, and the public about computers.

The EFF has taken heat from some members of the industry because they see it as simply a "hacker defense fund," and some law enforcement officials are not necessarily in favor of it. "It's as if NOW started a foundation to come to the assistance of [people charged in] rape cases," says Don Ingraham, chief of the high-tech crime team and an assistant district attorney for Alameda County in northern California. "We don't know what to think of it." He says he doesn't under­stand why the computer industry would defend people trying to break into their systems.

Do you mean none of them predicted the web?

We were already calling it the internet when I started college in 88 and after all, it ran on TCP/IP(the latter stands for Internet Protocol) which ARPANET adopted in 1983.

> Do you mean none of them predicted the web?

I mean the whole social, cultural and economic impact and, yes, the web is a very important part of it.

But there were a few more things in that early era, besides the web (e.g.:ICQ, IRC, Napster).

The article is in the September 1990 issue, and the first webpage was deployed a few months later. Obviously, if any of those people envisioned the web or anything like it, they would have done it themselves. 'Obviously' is usually used in hindsight.

this is not making the point well -- in 1988 there were multiple, competing protocols that ran over whatever the carrier medium was.. TCP/IP was nascent, and did not route as we know it today.

I recently found myself in Boston needing computer stuff, and wound up at Micro Center in Cambridge. It was interesting in that they had pictures of the computing legends. Your list reminded me of that, as most of your list was represented in these portraits.

What were the prices like? Anything interesting for sale there that is not found in other stores?

Nothing to make it any different from any other computer store, except for one thing. It was 5 minutes away from me. I was able to run in, find the needed thing, and then go back to doing what was needed. Didn't need to wait for UPS to show up the next day. I was very thankful that MicroCenter has not been forced to close from websites like most of the other brick&mortar stores have had to do.

There is one close to me in the DC area. The biggest thing is that they have just about everything you would want a computer/electronics store to have ... machines (PC and Apple), components, networking gear, highend gaming peripherals, hobbyist electronics/computers, repair services and a bunch of other related products and toys. Sometimes at work we are looking up server components for an upgrade/replacement, network switch and I think even rails for a server once then realize microcenter just down the street has it at about the same price. Most of this stuff just isn't available anywhere else in one place except online at this point.

> Most of this stuff just isn't available anywhere else in one place except online at this point.

By anywhere else, do you mean _near you_? In a word, Frys. hahah

Yes, by me locally within a 30 mile radius. There's a few mom & pop style Computer Repair places, but I'm not expecting them to have an inventory. There are actually 3 Fry's within that 30 mile radius, but I don't even consider Fry's anymore. They are pretty much a joke to me at this point. CompUSA and other such big box stores were worth my time and money back when I had no money.

Lol yeah. I was looking up similar stores and nothing popped up. Thanks for the correction/knowledge.

Considering Ted Nelson (for a start) was one of them, that's a little unfair.

LoL. Random page. "A small price to pay for greatness" 25MHz Dell for $3599

I have always felt that Jerry Pournelle’’s Chaos Manor and Steve Ciarcia’s Circuit Cellar were highly influential on the whole idea and style of blogging. The way of writing about technical topics based on personal experience from one’s passion is at the heart of good blogging.

Jerry Pournelle I could have easily lived without. He had piles of his hardware and software given to him, and he had high level access into various companies when he had a problem because of his position at Byte. Couldn't relate, and never understood why people enjoyed his articles that much.

OTOH, Steve Ciarcia was like a god to me. The variety and scope of his projects was crazy. I built his BASIC-52 controller board (point to point wiring FTW!) and hung a 2x16 LCD display and SPO256-AL2 speech synthesizer off of it. I marvelled at his "parallel processor" Mandelbrot generator. Every month was one amazing design after another, and I credit him as one of the people that sent me on my path to my EE degree.

One thing I liked about Jerry Pournelle was that whenever he reviewed something he usually gave a blow-by-blow description of all of the problems that he ran into and how he worked around them. Some folks gave him grief about this, but I could relate because I often ran into exactly the same problems that he did. Meanwhile other reviewers usually either glossed over this stuff or just ignored it completely, lest they offend the vendor or Microsoft or whoever. This gave unsuspecting users the impression that installing and running this stuff was a piece of cake, when in fact it could be a real nightmare.

Pournelle I always hated, because his column was soooo loooong and rambling, and it was inevitably an advertorial for some super-expensive not particularly interesting product he got for nothing and then received exemplary support for, usually directly from the CEO. And then, just as inevitably, there would be a prominent mention of his next and/or last books.

Considering how much money Byte made from ads, I suspect Pournelle was incredibly well paid for his efforts - in addition to all that free hardware.

Nice gig.

Ciarcia was superb - back when many developers understood the hardware down to component level. So much cool and creative skill, month after month.

Ciarcia helped inspire my career. I was in high school, had learned programming, but was also interested in electronics, math, physics, etc. I got an internship at a computing center, where the work just seemed terribly boring. Of course one person's boredom is another person's excitement. But "programming with solder" was exactly the thing that pulled it all together for me.

Was that the 8052-AH Basic one? (Funny I still remember the numbers). I worked for a place where I built a commercial system using that. We used it for a couple of things, a nurse call system, a datalogger, just GP IO, was a great time.

Exactly. And it is still out there if you want to download it (and the source!), burn an EPROM, and relive some memories. The code, along with some cool hardware designs, can be found here:.


Absolutely: Steve Ciarcia is a true god!


On the other hand, Jerry Pournelle was notorious for threatening companies with bad reviews (and carrying out his threats) if they didn't give him free products.

So in that sense, he was a pioneer in the field of Entitlement Blogging.


>The sense of entitlement is just too strong in the blogging community and the nastiness, hissy fits and general hate displayed after one of your members was not granted her request for a freebie is giving your whole industry a bad name. I never thought we would be inundated with negative reviews for the simple reason that somebody was required to pay for goods received or services rendered.

Not only did he feel entitled to free (as in LOTS OF beer) hardware and software, but also to free ARPANET access, which he bragged about in Chaos Manor.

And then he would make incoherent drunken accusations and threats in public to his benevolent benefactors at MIT, who finally got sick of him and flushed him.

"How Jerry Pournelle got kicked off the ARPANET": http://www.stormtiger.org/bob/humor/pournell/story.html

He was so far ahead of his time, he would be working for the Trump administration if he were younger. They would have loved his enthusiasm for social darwinism. "Think of it as evolution in action." -POURNE


"So what do I do? I agree with nearly everything he is for, but I’m better qualified to make it happen. I avoid some issues, but I go for his most popular ones and say, yeah! Want that! And I can make it happen better than he can. I’ve got the experience of working in government, but I’m not the establishment any more than Mr. Trump is. Heck, I’ll offer him a cabinet post. I could use his energy in my administration." -POURNE


"But he has never wavered on his desire to fill the Supreme Court with Justices as near in scholarship and view to Scalia as possible; that alone would be enough to get me to the polls for Trump if he’s nominated." -POURNE

"One thing that is known about ARPA: you can be heaved off it for supporting the policies of the Department of Defense. Of course that was intended to anger me. If you have an ARPA account, please tell CSTACY that he was successful; now let us see if my Pentagon friends can upset him. Or perhaps some reporter friends. Or both., Or even the House Armed Services Committee." -POURNE

The real reason POURNE was so unpopular with the people running the MIT-AI Lab during the 1980's had to do with the fact that he was a belligerent alcoholic who acted entitled to the free computer services and expert advice that he was taking for granted and criticizing, rather than his politics.

In spite of the fact that many of those people who he accused of being "communists" went far out of their way to spend their precious time patiently answering his questions, tutoring and helping him (RMS even personally wrote some free software for him at his request -- how communist is that??!):


>"I first met Richard Stallman (he called himself RMS in those days) when he was a graduate student at MIT and I was just learning about the ARPANET. He was immensely helpful to me in those days, patiently showing me things about emacs — his full-screen editor that he wrote in TECO, and the less said about TECO the better — as well as adding some special code to take care of things I wanted to accomplish. I learned then that RMS and I have a common failing: We don't suffer fools gladly or indeed at all, and we are sometimes wrong about who is a fool. But that's another story for another time."

But POURNE certainly threatened to use his political connections as a weapon against them. POURNE is the one who made his own politics an issue, who told John McCarthy (the computer scientist, not Joseph the commie witch hunter) that he thought MIT was run by a bunch of communists, and who posted ranting threats on BIX.

Just read the sputtering mis-punctuated threatening screed he posted to BIX, and decide for yourself if you think he was drunk, or if he just acted that way all the time purely because of his political beliefs:

    One thing that is known about ARPA: you can be heaved off it
    for supporting the policies of the Department of Defense.
    Of course that was intended to anger me.  If you have an
    ARPA account, please tell CSTACY that he was successful;
    now let us see if my Pentagon friends can upset him. Or
    perhaps some reporter friends.  Or both.,  Or even 
    the House Armed Services Committee.
It was widely known in the SF fandom community that Jerry Pournelle was an alcoholic during the 1980's, because he was always drunk, loud and and obnoxious at science fiction conventions, which a lot of MIT-AI lab members and turists attended and witnessed first-hand.


I don't remember if the official MIT AI Lab Tourist Policy was written down at the time POURNE was flushed, of if he agreed to it and signed it like the rest of us tourists did, but it's pretty clear he violated it many times over: with his anti-social behavior and bad attitude; by taking took advantage of the MIT AI Lab for his profit making enterprise BYTE Magazine; by promoting his books on SF-LOVERS; by never hesitating to espouse his political beliefs; and by threaten to exploit his political connections for revenge. So flushing him was completely justified, regardless of his politics.


>"A tourist sponsored by a laboratory member would generally receive some guidance and tutelage concerning acceptable behavior, proper design techniques for hardware and software, proper programming techniques, etc. The expectation on the laboratories' part was that a large percentage would become educated in the use of the advanced computing techniques developed and used in our laboratories and thereby greatly facilitate the technology transfer process. A second expectation was that some percentage would become interested and expert enough to contribute significantly to our research efforts."

>"13. Any use of the MIT ITS machines for personal gain, profit making enterprise, or political purposes is not a legitimate use of the Laboratories' computer resources."

>"14. These specific statements of policy give a minimum of how a tourist ought to behave to be a responsible user on the MIT ITS system. They are not a complete list of all the ways tourists should or should not behave. Just because some particular anti-social behavior is not listed does not mean that it is acceptable. What a tourist should do is cultivate a good attitude: make a positive effort to anticipate and avoid actions that would interfere with other users. If you cannot tell whether a certain course of action can interfere with any one, find out from someone else before trying it."

"The man has learned nothing from his presence on MC and sets a bad example of what people might potentially accomplish there. I'd rather recycle his account for some bright 12-yr-old...)" -KMP

When KMP said that, he could have been referring to good tourists like Rob Griffith:


"I believe on one trip we were touring the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, and we saw some people gathered around this terminal. And we inquired what they were doing, and out of that came this game Zork, and my friend, since he was at MIT, had us get an account, and we were able to log in and figure out what to me looked like an extremely arcane set of commands to actually get this game running. From then on we were pretty much hooked from the first time we actually saw it. I believe we saw it when we were walking through the MIT AI Lab. I was a guest. Even back then there was some pretty amazing stuff in there. To see all these students and professors huddled around this terminal. What are the doing? They had all these incredibly cool Lisp Machines with big gorgeous displays, and a bunch of people were huddled around a machine that's got text. And we were sort of intrigued. I believe that was the first time I actually saw the game, so to speak. You know, I never got names, so I don't know. I was a petrified little 15-year-old kid walking around the MIT lab, so it was a bit of a feeling of "Am I supposed to be here?", and if I am supposed to be here, I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to talk, so perhaps I'll just be quiet and observe."

I learnt everything I know about computers from reading Byte magazine cover to cover as a teenager. Steve Ciracia's Circuit Cellar was always the highlight for me.

My favourite project was the video camera he made from a 64kb DRAM chip from Micro called the IS32. Rather that the usual opaque cap, it had a transparent quartz lid. Photons accelerated the charge leaking from DRAM cells. So by writing ones, waiting a calculated period, then reading out the new DRAM values, you could get a binary image. Repeat for multiple exposure periods for greyscale.

As a 15 year old, I bought one of these chips, designed my own circuit board, drew the tracks with etch-resistant pen from Tandy Radio Shack, etched it in ferric chloride, hand drilled the holes, and soldered the components. Needless to say, it didn't work. And without access to an oscilloscope, I never managed to figure out the problem.

Part 1: https://archive.org/details/byte-magazine-1983-09

Part 2: https://archive.org/details/byte-magazine-1983-10

Here are PDFs,including circuit diagrams and code listing:



(for those interested in computer nostalgia, the first of those full issues was a special on portable computing. And the second is a mammoth 480 page issue with dozens of articles on all aspects of the Unix operating system).

> My favourite project was the video camera he made from a 64kb DRAM chip

My first job in computing was as a bench repair engineer for shop-returned Sinclair Spectrums. (Pretty busy time since they had a huge failure rate mainly due to an under-specified transistor in the DC-DC converter).

Since we had plenty of components available, I had a go at doing this by lifting the lid of a ceramic 4164 (might have been a 4116) with a soldering iron and hacking together a bit of stripboard to plug into the expansion bus of a Spectrum.

It worked a treat with a few frames per second refresh rate. (I had to remap the non-sequential ram lines in software to get a sensible image.)

Agreed, Jerry Pournelle’’s Chaos Manor was always great.

BYTE's language issues were always amazing (Smalltalk, Lisp, Modula-2). I also love Byte Magazine Volume 10 Number 13 - Computer Conferencing for an interesting set of articles on ways computer conferencing might go that never happened. I wonder about bringing back some of these ideas given the current social media landscape.

Loved BYTE growing up -- a great hacker's magazine.

Robert Tinney's covers were amazing:


BYTE was great, sort of a microcomputing version of the more upmarket mini-/mainframe Datamation magazine. But as a hobbyist I was more drawn to Creative Computing [1] and the even funkier Compute! [2] magazine in its exclamation point heyday.

1. https://archive.org/details/creativecomputing

2. https://archive.org/details/compute-magazine

CUJ (C User's Journal, but it covered C++ too) and DDJ (Dr. Dobb's Journal) were great too. Not sure about CUJ, but DDJ stopped a few years ago.



Both of them used to have really solid programming content for quite a while. BYTE, IIRC, became much commercial and ad-oriented in its later years, with less of quality tech content for makers, and more of product reviews and such, instead.

I was a big fan of Compute! and Compute's! Gazette as well.

There were also Ahoy! And Ahoy!'s AmigaUser:


Oh man! I forgot all about Creative Computing. I loved Compute! and Compute!’s Gazette and Byte though.

It is really interesting looking at older ads from 1993, how much home PC/workstation stuff has dropped in price. A fairly ordinary Gateway 2000 486DX2/50 desktop PC with 8MB of RAM, adjusted from Dec. 1993 to today's date for inflation ( https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm ) is $5200 US dollars. At that time it's kind of a mid range offering since Gateway and others were also selling much more costly 486DX2/66 and Pentium 60/66 MHz machines.

Today for $5200 (sans monitor) you can build one hell of a beast of a Threadripper machine with factory-overclocked GTX1080 Ti, probably 1TB of Samsung NVME M.2 SSD, etc.

you are right. I think that was part of the appeal. Even though I didn't have a PC nor could I afford one as a teenager I religiously read these computer magazines cover to cover including all the ads. in fact I enjoyed reading ads more.

Notable article from BYTE May 1977: "The Apple-II System Description" by Stephen Wozniak (http://ethw.org/w/images/0/03/The-Apple-II-by-Stephen-Woznia...)

Hard to measure up to that one, but Abelson & Sussman's from 1988 (iirc) article-length compression of SICP made a strong impression on me.

Drat - that issue (Feb 88, according to Sussman's CV at https://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/gjs/gjs.html) doesn't seem to be in the archive.

Another great magazine that helped me get up to speed on computers was Kilobaud Magazin. I guess it's name is kinda dated in the days of Gigabaud transmissions, as a kilobaud was 1024 bits per second, or 128 bytes per second.

Anyway, you can review Kilobaud Magazine on Internet Archive using the URL : https://archive.org/search.php?query=Kilobaud

Wow I remember Kilobaud April 1979, that introduction to Quicksort with examples in BASIC, copying it down to carry around with me in a little notebook. Shell-Metzer was also popular at the time. I had a TRS-80m1(Z80) and Kilobaud was like a bible.

Publisher Wayne Greene (good guy) had actually started Byte magazine (sordid details) ... but Kilobaud (as Wikipedia notes) was definitely for more technical readers ... down-to-metal hardware and software wisdom. (I only recently parted company with ish's #1 and #2.)

BYTE kept up on industry developments way better than any other mainstream magazine of the era. They were covering SIGGRAPH when nobody else was.

For a middle school kid to know about Pixar's hardware architecture? That was pretty unique.

I probably learned as much from BYTE as I did from my CS classes in college.

I know I did. I went to the university library one afternoon to look up an article by Lebling and Blank on interactive fiction in the December 1980 issue of Byte, but I got distracted looking at decades' worth of archives of everything from Popular Electronics to Playboy. Ended up killing the whole afternoon in the magazine archive.

They eventually dimmed the lights to indicate that the library was closing in a few minutes, so I figured I'd better quit messing around and copy the article I was originally after. Couldn't find it, so I asked a librarian. "Oh, we had to drop that subscription. Budget cuts, you know," was the response.

Didn't see much point in the whole college thing after that. They had their priorities, and I had mine.

I grew up reading BYTE and Your Computer


I started reading Byte in the mid-80's, while at tech school. It was a great source of information on all kinds of computing subjects.

It began to lose it's attraction (for me) when they stopped publishing source code.

I still have a paper copy of Volume 5, number 11. The Huffman encoding article showed a very creative way of recursively writing out the code-tree for static Huffman encoding.

I can't remember which issues they're in, but a couple of other memorable articles include a fast CRC32 calculation which introduced the table-lookup to speed up the process that quickly became the norm.

The other article that I really enjoyed was the Circuit Cellar article where Steve Ciarcia had locked himself out of his house with brownies baking in the oven. He was going to have to break in to his burglar-proof house before the brownies began to burn and his high-tech smoke-detection system would automatically call the fire department. If I remember right, there's a picture of Steve in soldier gear, complete with a bandolier with IC chips where bullets would normally have appeared.

It was a great magazine.

>I still have a paper copy of Volume 5, number 11. The Huffman encoding article showed a very creative way of recursively writing out the code-tree for static Huffman encoding.

I remember reading that article in an old copy of BYTE that I picked up at a used book shop. The article was really good. It was early in my career and I remember being thinking what a cool algorithm it was, and felt good that I could understand how it worked. IIRC, the author's name was Jonathan Amsterdam.

>IIRC, the author's name was Jonathan Amsterdam.

Googled his name and found this video by a person with that name, may be the same person whom I mentioned above. He worked at Google on cloud client libraries for Go. Queued to watch later.

GopherCon 2017 - Lightning Talk: Jonathan Amsterdam - Errors as Side Notes


Update: I just watched the video, it's very short, and the tool he describes seems useful for understanding new Go code. I won't describe what it does - go watch the video (pun intended).

Yes it was! They have the issue at the archive:


Great, thanks. Will check it out.

Circuit Cellar is still around. It was owned by a Dutch company for a while but Ciarcia bought it back.

Interesting reading these in the light of excessively intrusive advertising on websites being one of HN's favourite dead horses to beat.

I'm reading the smalltalk issue and the introductory editorial has a hyphenated word split over a two page ad spread plus a half page ad on the page it finishes on. Which is also opposite a full page ad. (the next two pages are ads)

I wanted to mention the same thing, it is littered with ads. However I remember reading some gaming related magazine way back in the early 2000s and there were also many ads (and still are I guess), so it's not a BYTE specific thing, but print-media in general.

Those ads are how they could publish a 500 page monthly magazine for $2.50.

And at the time, the ads were to some extent also useful information about the industry, in a period where there wasn't much available.

Important difference between ads that can see you and those that can’t.

Skimming through these today is the first time I've ever found the ads just as interesting to read as the articles themselves.

It was great when almost the entire industry was in one magazine.

I like the headline for the issue from September 1992:

Is Unix Dead?

Soon Unix will face its most powerful adversary to date: Microsoft Windows NT. Will Unix Survive?

If AWS didn't use Linux for servers and Apple chose to buy BeOS instead of NeXT, would Unix be around as prominently as it is right now?

Before AWS, Apache running on Unix / Linux was the absolutely dominant web server, pretty much crushing Windows IIS. I don't think Apple factors in at all - they've barely budged the needle in terms of influencing this particular battle, IMHO.

You’re correct on Linux’s (and I would argue SunOS’s) dominance as a web server being the major factor, but Apple helped the popularize slick Unix workstations for developers, allowing us to live in Unix at a time when it was rarely possible to convince IT depts to support Linux on the desktop. This goes back to the eighties if you retroactively fold NeXT into the Apple lineage. Even though NeXTSTEP was never very popular in industry, it gained a substantial footprint in academia, and had an outsized impact on the internet. Berners-Lee even developed the web on a NeXTStation.

This early OS X ad shows how important continuing to serve and develop this market was for Apple:


Funny people credit AWS or Apple... Neither really convinced people unix was worth it in such a way that Sun Solaris did. Too bad they collapsed and oracle of all places snagged 'em.

You mean SunOS -- Solaris is quite new.

Solaris superseded SunOS in 1993 and let's be honest, Solaris 2.6 is when Sun "shined". most of us linux beards just see it as a linear progression until oracle murdered it.

Unix-type servers have always dominant as web servers and this alone made is so a substantial portion of CPUs in the world boot with such kernels even in the 90s I think.

With Unix-like-oses having some inherent advantages over Windows, and the successful open source model making Linux and BSD free and in constant development, in hindsight the extension of Unix-like-oses to more and more domains seems inevitable.

The only thing standing in the way of a Unix/Linux future really was the potential of microkernel OSes but over many years, these have failed to live up to their hype (GNU began development of HURD before Linux was announced).

I mean, Google using Linux internally and using it for the development of Android seem like more obvious breakout moments to me. But there many such moments says to me that no one of them mattered that much.

I think on the contrary, if AWS didn't use Linux it wouldn't have taken off. Everyone was on a linux stack back then with few exceptions. Microsoft had to spend millions in advertising to convince people they offered something other than windows.

AWS wouldn't be around now, since Linux servers dominated years before it launched.

It certainly wouldn't be as prominent, and the ecosystem wouldn't be as rich. But it would still exist - the things that people like about it would still be there, and it had momentum before those things you mentioned.

Didn't BeOS ship bash and a partial POSIX interface? So we would still be in the "unix clone such as linux" land?

Yes, but BeOS was a lot less Unix-ish than Linux. Most of the details are fuzzy now, but there were a few big differences you could run into trying to port, notably around networking. (The never officially released BeOS 5.1 would have added a BSD-compatible networking environment, though.)

I took a look at the IBM PC issue from Fall 1984. One of the first quotes that made me smile was this:

"But the euphoria of a faster disk drive and seemingly limitless disk space eventually gives way to the realization that you can fill up even 10 megabytes sooner than you think." [0]

Especially if you read back issues of byte at ~200mb per PDF :D

[0] https://ia800701.us.archive.org/1/items/byte-magazine-1984-0...

Long before copy-pasting code from Stack Overflow was a thing, I was copy-typing code from Byte. Made a cool spiders game that blew my mind with use of PEEK and POKE.

The only magazine I grew up with was MacAddict; was it normal for magazines to routinely be over 300 pages (and mostly full of ads)?

Edit: they have archived MacAddict too: https://archive.org/details/macaddict?&sort=date

yeah, you should have seen computer shopper magazine in its hayday.

I know that the magazine (The Rainbow Magazine) that was dedicated to the computer I had (the Tandy Color Computer) was easily over 250 pages during its heyday (mid-80s). And it's not like the Color Computer was one of the more popular computers like the Atari 400/800, Apple ][ or Commodore-64.

One of my favourite magazines from years ago. One of the first magazines that I actually treated as a book, and not because of its thickness. I used to relish spending the entire month slowly going through the magazine page by page and learning so much.

I was a Byte subscriber at the time, and IIRC one of its last issues (which I can't seem to find in the archive) had a big article which compared Unix to Windows and came to a pro-Unix, anti-Windows conclusion. I was quite surprised at this because at the time the industry had reached a point where you dare not say anything against Microsoft, otherwise you would feel the full wrath of Bill Gates. And I remember thinking to myself "Wow, I bet Bill is really going to be unhappy about this!" So it came as no real surprise to me when in short order Byte was bought up and then just abruptly shut down.

I grew up on Byte magazine. Love the covers and the articles on programming. My parents had bought me a TRS-80 Model I with Level III Basic and learned programming by typing in programs (and then debugging them) from Byte and other magazines. Did anyone ever type in the Scott Adams Treasure Island adventure game from the December 1980 issue? https://archive.org/details/byte-magazine-1980-12

Along these lines, who remembers Algorithm magazine? Published by computer scientist and author A. K. Dewdney. It only ran for a couple of years in the mid 90's. [1] is the only reference I've found. If anyone has issues, please contact me.

[1] http://www.streettech.com/bcp/BCPgraf/StreetTech/Algorithm.h...

The thing I remember from that era was most of what I read about in Byte being out of reach financially. The open source movement has made software much more accessible. If I want to learn to program in Go or Haskell I don't need to start by reaching for my wallet.

I couldn't afford to buy every issue. But when I did I read it cover to cover. It's hard to believe now, but apart from Byte and Dr Dobbs there just wasn't any other source for tech news where I lived (at least for someone who was half programmer - half build your own pc/local network)

In another universe I’m mining these for ideas for retrofuture/cyberpunk rpg and short fiction ideas.

Just minutes ago I was reading the November, 1975 issue of Byte. The cover splash is about someday in the futuristic future when we’re all driving around in flying cars and eating meal pills, you may possibly be able to buy calculators and computers in a STORE!


A prescient issue that I think is missing from the archive was the one on the work at Xerox on ubiquitous computing. It stuck in mind my mind when I first read it, and I am reminded of it from time to time when I reach for my iPhone.

What particularly interested me was this August 1981 ad for "Palantir" business software.

From page 31: https://vgy.me/YYyBSg.jpg

So, this is obviously still in copyright. Pointing the light at these items in the archive should be a sure way to make the copyright trolls aware and eventually have them removed from there?

This is fantastic, but I'm curious why it isn't more complete. 1988 has only 4 issues. Surely those copies aren't hard to obtain.

Looks like there may have been some DMCA takedowns, judging from what some of the missing URLs like https://archive.org/details/BYTE-1988-03 display.

Too bad Dr Dobbs isn't also available.

Oh wow! I I actually forgot about BYTE. BYTE and Dr. Dobb's Journal are what made me who I am.

Page browsing is horribly broken.

Seems to work well for me in Firefox.

One of the most influential magazines from the early days of personal computing.

The Amiga issue. I held on to that one forever.

Also learned Prolog from Byte magazine.

Really miss that mag.

Really the only source here in Hong Kong in 1980s. Nothing else compared.

Brings back fond memories! Have to dig out my cassette drive...

I wish someone could revive this.

Thanks a lot for sharing this!


By far the cooler 'hacker's magazine' (as someone put it) was Transactor. Available at the same source! https://archive.org/search.php?query=transactor

Byte was so ... conventionally-oriented. "A friend to all is a friend to none." Scrambled ... or benedict?

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