PC Magazine

Last updated

PC Magazine
Pc mag digital.png
EditorDan Costa
Categories Computer magazine
First issueFebruary/March 1982;37 years ago (1982-03) (as PC)
Country United States
Based in New York
Language English
Website www.pcmag.com OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
ISSN 0888-8507

PC Magazine (shortened as PCMag) is an American computer magazine published by Ziff Davis. A print edition was published from 1982 to January 2009. Publication of online editions started in late 1994 and continues to this day.



Editor Bill Machrone wrote in 1985 that "we've distilled the contents of PC Magazine down to the point where it can be expressed as a formula: PC = EP2. EP stands for evaluating products and enhancing productivity. If an article doesn't do one or the other, chances are it doesn't belong in PC Magazine." [1]

PC Magazine provides reviews and previews of the latest hardware and software for the information technology professional. Articles are written by leading experts[ citation needed ] including John C. Dvorak, whose regular column and Inside Track feature are among the magazine's most popular attractions. Other regular departments include columns by long-time editor-in-chief Michael J. Miller (Forward Thinking), Bill Machrone, and Jim Louderback, as well as:

For a number of years in the 1980s PC Magazine gave significant coverage to programming for the IBM PC and compatibles in languages such as Turbo Pascal, BASIC, Assembly and C. Charles Petzold was one of the notable writers on programming topics.


In an early review of the new IBM PC, Byte reported "the announcement of a new magazine called PC: The Independent Guide to the IBM Personal Computer. It is published by David Bunnell, of Software Communications, Inc. … It should be of great interest to owners of the IBM Personal Computer". [2] The first issue of PC, dated February–March 1982, [3] appeared early that year. [4] (The word Magazine was added to the name with the third issue in June 1982, [5] but not added to the logo until the first major redesign in January 1986). PC Magazine was created by Bunnell, Jim Edlin, and Cheryl Woodard [6] (who also helped David found the subsequent PC World and Macworld magazines). Edward Currie and Tony Gold, a co-founder of Lifeboat Associates who financed the magazine, were early investors in PC Magazine. The magazine grew beyond the capital required to publish it, and to solve this problem, Gold sold the magazine to Ziff-Davis, which moved it[ clarification needed ] to New York City. By February 1983 it was published by PC Communications Corp., a subsidiary of Ziff-Davis Publishing Co., Bunnell and his staff left to form PC World magazine. [7]

The first issue of PC featured an interview with a very young Bill Gates, made possible by his friendship with David Bunnell who was among the first journalists and writers to take an interest in personal computing.[ citation needed ]

By its third issue PC was square-bound because it was too thick for saddle-stitch. At first the magazine published new issues every two months, but became monthly as of the August 1982 issue, its fourth. [5] In March 1983 a reader urged the magazine to consider switching to a biweekly schedule because of its thickness, [8] and in June another joked of the dangers of falling asleep while reading PC in bed. [9] Although the magazine replied to the reader's proposal with "Please say you're kidding about the bi-weekly schedule. Please?", [8] after the December 1983 issue reached 800 pages in size, [10] in 1984 PC began publishing new issues every two weeks, with each about 400 pages in size. [4] In January 2008 the magazine dropped back to monthly issues. [11] Print circulation peaked at 1.2 million in the late 1990s. In November 2008 it was announced that the print edition would be discontinued as of the January 2009 issue, but the online version at pcmag.com would continue. By this time print circulation had declined to about 600,000. [12] [13]

The magazine had no ISSN until 1983, when it was assigned ISSN   0745-2500, which was later changed to ISSN   0888-8507.


Dan Costa is the current editor-in-chief of PCMag.com, [14] the website of the now-folded magazine. Prior to this position, Costa was executive editor under the previous editor-in-chief, Lance Ulanoff. Ulanoff held the position of editor-in-chief from July 2007 to July 2011; the last print edition of the magazine appeared in January 2009, although Ulanoff continued on with the website PCMag.com.

Jim Louderback had held this position of editor-in-chief before Ulanoff, from 2005, and left when he accepted the position of chief executive officer of Revision3, an online media company.

Development and evolution

The magazine has evolved significantly over the years. The most drastic change has been the shrinkage of the publication due to contractions in the computer-industry ad market and the easy availability of the Internet, which has tended to make computer magazines less "necessary" than they once were. This is also the primary reason for the November 2008 decision to discontinue the print version. Where once mail-order vendors had huge listing of products in advertisements covering several pages, there is now a single page with a reference to a website. At one time (the 1980s through the mid-1990s), the magazine averaged about 400 pages an issue, with some issues breaking the 500- and even 600-page marks. In the late 1990s, as the computer-magazine field underwent a drastic pruning, the magazine shrank to approximately 300 and then 200 pages.

It has adapted to the new realities of the 21st century by reducing its once-standard emphasis on massive comparative reviews of computer systems, hardware peripherals, and software packages to focus more on the broader consumer-electronics market (including cell phones, PDAs, MP3 players, digital cameras, and so on). Since the late 1990s, the magazine has taken to more frequently reviewing Macintosh software and hardware.

The magazine practically invented the idea of comparative hardware and software reviews in 1984 with a groundbreaking "Project Printers" issue. For many years thereafter, the blockbuster annual printer issue, featuring more than 100 reviews, was a PC Magazine tradition.

The publication also took on a series of editorial causes over the years, including copy protection (the magazine refused to grant its coveted Editors' Choice award to any product that used copy protection) and the "brain-dead" Intel 80286 (then-editor-in-chief Bill Machrone said the magazine would still review 286s but would not recommend them).

PC Magazine was a booster of early versions of the OS/2 operating system in the late 1980s, but then switched to a strong endorsement of the Microsoft Windows operating environment after the release of Windows 3.0 in May 1990. Some OS/2 users accused of the magazine of ignoring OS/2 2.x versions and later. (Columnist Charles Petzold was sharply critical of Windows because it was more fragile and less stable and robust than OS/2, but he observed the reality that Windows succeeded in the marketplace where OS/2 failed, so the magazine by necessity had to switch coverage from OS/2 to Windows. In the April 28, 1992 issue PC Magazine observed that the new OS/2 2.0 was "exceptionally stable" compared to Windows 3.x due to "bullet-proof memory protection" that prevented an errant application from crashing the OS, albeit at the cost of higher system requirements.)

During the dot-com bubble, the magazine began focusing heavily on many of the new Internet businesses, prompting complaints from some readers that the magazine was abandoning its original emphasis on computer technology. After the collapse of the technology bubble in the early 2000s, the magazine returned to a more-traditional approach.

See also

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  2. Williams, Gregg (January 1982). "A Closer Look at the IBM Personal Computer". BYTE. p. 36. Retrieved 2013-10-19.
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  4. 1 2 Sandler, Corey (November 1984). "IBM: Colossus of Armonk". Creative Computing. p. 298. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
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  6. "Publishing Business Group: How We Started PC Magazine". www.publishingbiz.com. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  7. Wise, Deborah (1982-12-20). "Staff Walks Out on PC Magazine, Starts New Journal". InfoWorld. Popular Computing, Inc. 4 (50): 1–8. ISSN   0199-6649.
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  9. Lindsay, Robert S. (June 1983). "Legal Ramifications". PC Magazine. p. 46. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
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  11. "PC Magazine issues list". PC Magazine. Archived from the original on 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2011-06-29.
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  13. Clifford, Stephanie (2008-11-19). "PC Magazine, a Flagship for Ziff Davis, Will Cease Printing a Paper Version". The New York Times .
  14. Dan Costa (2011-07-12). "Editor's Note: Six the Hard Way". PC Magazine. Retrieved 2012-04-05.