Harry McCracken, a tech writer with a memory, brings word that PCWorld, his long time employer, has exited the print magazine business, leading him to declare "the era of computer magazines ends."
If that's true, and I think it is, then I must offer a few words on behalf of my personal favorite from the era: Computer Shopper.
Computer Shopper was like Vogue or Vanity Fair for nerds: You read it for the ads. Which it was filled with. Come to think of it, I'm sure they ran articles, but I don't think I ever read one. And yet it was thick, like a phone book, and you could find a whole world of PCs and components inside.
If you never saw it, you probably can't imagine the number of advertisements for every single computer thingie that appeared between its covers. The magazine, more than any article could manage, showed you the crazy sprawling world of personal computing. For a kid like me out in Washington, it meant that I wasn't alone in my fascination with the falling price of RAM. The names of the companies from back then are like the scent of a grandma's pie for somebody else. I know Micron remains a real company, but for me, the name is charged with the lightness of my youth, and the mystery and contingency of all that came after. The quarter-page ad, the desire for a new CPU fan, PE, the smell of a gym, Muggsy Bogues, hemp necklaces, my Doc Martens and jean shorts, the wonder of making out against the brick wall behind Mr. Bennet's class. (See: Micron! That takes me back.)