Forty five years ago a computer magazine hit US bookstores and newsstands called BYTE. What made it so tantalizing was it didn't focus on a single platform. The editorial staff tried to cover all
microcomputer news and advancements across a stunning span of time, and they did it at a level not matched by many at the time, or since.
BYTE ran from 1975 all the way up to 1998. Granted this meant PCs got a significant share of the coverage. But all flavors were considered across multiple technical angles and disciplines.
And folks, while these are indeed magazines they are huge.
Many are over 300 pages thick and some are even well over 500 pages
. By being so gigantic, tons of advertising on its pages helped to subsidize the cost of printing and shipping. As a result, a 400-paged issue in 1985 would have cost you only $3.50!
They're practically tomes of home computer history and came out every single month. In other words, if you subscribed to BYTE you really had a good idea of what the heck was going on in the personal computer industry.
Cover stories were very in-depth and could be quite technical in scope. This mag was not aimed at kids. It was entirely directed at adults with spending power.
While Commodore machines can be found in many BYTE magazines, the Amiga only graced 2 covers over its many years of publication as far as I know. I have those two magazines. I wanted to show off one of them today (I'll share the other one at another time).
The first time an Amiga appeared on the cover of BYTE was the August issue from 1985. Topics in this issue range from the Amiga (obvs) to several in-depth articles on programming, book and computer reviews, coverage of multiple computer events across the country - even detailed diagrams of various chip pinouts!
Just the cover of the August 1985 issue is amazing on so many levels and worth a closer look.
The Amiga in the photo would be one of the very earliest retail models available. If this was published in 1985, that means the content for it was very likely set into what's known as an "Editorial Calendar" two to three months before
shipping. The Amiga officially launched in the U.S. on July 23, 1985, so it's quite likely this photoshoot was done prior to the retail release making this machine a very early S/N indeed.
Note the unique monitor and unusual monitor badge" "AMIGA HR" with the bright white background. This is the same setup found on the premiere issue of AmigaWorld Magazine
. "HR" presumably stood for high resolution but that's just a guess. I do believe the monitor was provided with some developer systems
in the early days of the A1000. Named the Amiga HR, it might very well be a re-badged Commodore 1902
, which was a C128 monitor at the time.
It's certainly not the 1070, which is what I call the "Andy Warhol Monitor" which kinda looks too big for an A1K in the first place.
This monitor - even with the janky badge - looks glorious
when matched with an A1K.
Back to the cover, I find it curious that for the launch of this computer to BYTE's readership they decided to photograph it in a museum. I don't think they were saying it was history, I think they were literally comparing it to a work of art, which brings its own baggage. Something to be admired from a distance; not touched but gazed upon.
The image dominating the cover is the 1935 painting by Pablo Picasso Interior with a Girl Drawing
. It is part of the MoMA's permanent collection in New York. On the screen of the Amiga in the foreground is a pretty nice representation of the painting. It does not appear to be a digitized photo but a hand-drawn version, which I believe was actually drawn by the photographer of the cover shot!
I gleaned this after carefully inspecting the image as well as finding curious note below the table of contents inside the magazine:
I find it so apt the photographer, Aaron Rezny, demonstrated - if quietly and nearly to himself - the artistic power of the Amiga right out of the box. On top of that I love how his subject is mainly of a woman - an Amiga - drawing. And on the screen of an Amiga we see a drawing of another "amiga" also drawing.
Honestly if that's what happened here I'm pretty impressed with what the photographer did at the time. It's like one of those shots of someone echoing through endless mirror reflections. Aaron Rezny really took the whole piece to a meta-level. I'm willing to bet 99% of folks who picked up the magazine in 1985 had this wash entirely over them. Well hey, Aaron, we got it!
In any case, I wanted to show you all the breadth and depth of BYTE's coverage of the original Amiga. It's not just a bunch of hyperbolic fanboy copy. They really took things seriously.
The article is spread across 11 incredible pages. Note how it even has a detailed breakdown of the motherboard and its various components.
If you want to actually read this article, you can find the issue on Archive.org here
We'll look at another BYTE later. Enjoy!