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Inflation, exchange rates and value for money – the changing face of Magazines

In just 5 years, the prices literally doubled on Computer Magazines here in NZ. As prices increased, the number of pages decreased… And program listings phased out in favor of reviews for commercial games.

Of course, there was a sudden inclusion of cover cassettes, featuring commercial software, demos and so on. At the start, many of the magazines would arrive in NZ with “Not available in New Zealand” stickers instead…

By the end of the 80’s, the art of programming in games was starting to completely die off. That era seemed to be over sadly.

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Kevin Phillips

Something else that always comes to mind when thinking back about magazines. I’m not sure what it was like in Australia, but in NZ there was usually a 3 month delay in magazines reaching here (we were always behind).

The local magazine distributor here at that time was Gordon and Gotch. They pretty much handled most magazines in NZ (not just computer ones).

Actually, they’re still in business…


Being in the Apple // platform at the time, my magazine of choice was Nibble magazine. It was a great resource and I likely wouldn’t have progressed very far in programming without it. I was quite disappointed when it (presumably) stopped shipping to Australia. I believe that almost the complete collection can now be downloaded online.

I do recall there was usually a few months delay between the issue date and when it arrived at the newsagent.

I don’t ever recall media being issued with the magazine. As far as I recall it was just program listings, mostly BASIC but sometimes some hexadecimal binaries. Oh the pain of typing half a page of hex and then needing to go through it again because it doesn’t work.

In the year before distribution stopped to Australia, I also remember that they published some code in a barcode-type format. Instead of a page of code listing, a long vertical barcode would fill a portion of the page. With the correct barcode reading equipment (probably proprietary), the barcode could be scanned and the listing would be read to the computer (somewhat like modern QR Codes). I don’t think it really took off though as most code continued to be listed in the magazine.

One of my favourite pieces of the magazine was almost always at the last page – the one or two liners. Readers would submit their 1 or 2 line BASIC programs (which was probably something like an absolute maximum of 500 characters I guess – assuming the BASIC buffer could hold 250 characters per line). Some of the programs that people created in only two lines was hugely impressive given the limitations of the machines at the time. I distinctly recall a 2 line hires Mandlebrot generator and also a 2 line hires rotating cube. However there were also utilitarian-type two liners such as calendars and calculators in addition to simple games and the like.

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