The History of the Macintosh Digital Press

Everyone likes a rags-to-riches story or the classic story of the underdog winning against all odds. When it comes to small publishers, however, almost all the tales end in defeat. Historically, it’s almost impossible to really compete against the major publications. These publishing heavyweights have all the money, all the brand name talent, everything the small publisher wants and needs to have.

The little guy will try hard. But how can he reach the millions he needs to without a huge distribution budget? In the past two hundred years, this was a huge mountain for the little guy to overcome. However, technology has changed all that. In the following pages I’ll show you how technology-the Internet, Online Services and the Macintosh computer-has allowed a small band of visionaries who harnessed these new technologies to carve themselves out a piece of the pie. And while some of the digital publishers you will read about are no longer around, they did lay the groundwork for what we all enjoy today on the web.

In the 1980’s, the computer world was dominated by the Apple II and Commodore home computers. While the first Macintosh hit the shelves in 1984 with its easy-to-use graphical interface, hard-core home computer users were using the command line interface DOS and Apple II’s. This would not change for at least four more years. It was here, during the 1980’s, that sharing information via a telephone line and a modem really made it big. Text Files were all the rage, and you could find these 1K documents on Bulletin Board Systems the world over. While this is technically a digital press, although small and inferior compared to today, it was nonetheless an effective way to have your voice heard.

In the late 1990’s, this has evolved into a huge network of computers around the world that we have all come to know as the Internet. Rather than Bulletin Board Systems, we have the World Wide Web, accessible by just about anyone, anywhere. While the fastest connection speeds in the 1980’s were through a 300-baud modem, today the average home computer sports a 56,000Kbs speed racehorse. Faster connection speeds mean anyone can now put together graphics and text, with links to other related sites located halfway around the world, and quickly and cheaply post them online. Now anyone with even a little graphic talent and good writing ability can compete for you as a reader with the big publishing houses. And don’t think those big publishing houses aren’t paying attention.

The world from the text file on the privately operated Bulletin Board Systems is very different from the privately and independently run websites of today. Nevertheless, the basic idea started there, back in the 1980’s, and much of the spirit of those pioneering days still lives on today.

On the next few pages, I will delve into the past, looking at a few of the Macintosh Digital press magazines. Not all are about the Macintosh computer, but all were created using a Mac. (such as Ooze and Tech Support Tales) And while you may remember a few more Macintosh digital magazines which I don’t mention here, please understand that I can’t cover them all, at least right now.

The history of the Macintosh Digital Press is a golden time for me, and I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.


The History of the Macintosh Digital Press 

Tim Robertson

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