Computist: An Historical Note
Having covers for both issues #13 and #14 to
view, (see Celt's most recent
Computist Project Update) it was easy to notice a change in the magazine motto.
Issue #13 proclaims that Computist is about "How to backup, unlock, or modify
copy-protected software". In issue #14 the magazine is "For The Serious User Of
Apple ][ Computers".
It struck me that, in all the years I read
and, eventually, wrote for Computist, I never
paid much attention to the motto. How often, I wondered, had it changed? Which led
to a search through our collection.
The motto on the cover of the first Computist
issue (when the magazine was called
"Hardcore Computist") says the publication is "for the serious Apple-user and
"Computist" is in larger type and bold face followed by the issue #.
So, part of the
publication's logo is worked into the motto.
The original motto lasts until the switch to the name "Computist" in Issue #5. Okay;
you can still find "Hardcore" in small type in the upper left part of the logo; but, more
and more, users and article contributors were using just "Computist". (I never did like
the "Hardcore" part and routinely tried to slip in references to "Computist" in my
submissions. Just as routinely, the editor would add "Hardcore" back in.)
"How to backup, unlock, or modify copy-protected
software" first surfaces on the
Issue #3 cover as a headline above the logo. The headline persists until the fifth issue,
where the "for the serious Apple-user" ... is missing below the the new "Computist" logo.
This leaves the headline (now in smaller type) as the new motto.
Computist had found its niche in the
fiercely competitive Apple II magazine market.
It continued to publish occasional articles about hardware modifications, etc. and some
reviews; but, primarily, it avoided competition in areas dominated by inCider, Nibble,
and other large Apple II publications. Instead, it became THE place everyone looked
for information about copying, deprotecting, and modifying software-- chiefly games.
For several issues, a star attraction was publication
of the latest Locksmith,
Copy II Plus, E.D.D., ... parms for copying protected software. This continued (as did
the motto) for a time even after the major copiers began to include parm libraries;
however, the 'handwriting was on the wall' for any mag which emphasized making copies.
Computist responded by switching to
a focus upon deprotection. Copiers could only
duplicate. A deprotected copy was much better because it could be easily backed up
and there are lots more interesting things you can do with a deprotected copy. For
instance, you can easily map all of those castles and dungeons, 'enhance' your characters,
and get around bothersome codewheel protection schemes.
The end of the simple "make a backup" market
also saw more emphasis upon
adventuring hints. Computist got back into reviews, too. This shift is reflected in a new
motto: "For The Serious User of Apple ][ Computers" on the Issue #14 cover.
The magazine continued to be for 'Serious Apple
II Users' for nearly forty more
issues, long after the "Hardcore" was dropped from the logo for Issue #27. About the
only concession to the arrival of the IIgs was an adjustment changing "Apple ][
Computers" to "A-II Computers" starting with Issue #49 in November 1987. By the
late '80's, "][" was too obviously archaic.
I'm not sure what was wrong with just swapping
in "II", unless "A-II" was intended to
also get rid of the name "Apple". For sure, by late 1987, anyone with a business stake in
Apple II computing was becoming very annoyed with Apple's treatment of the II series.
Possibly, though, "A-II" is more cryptic and easier to change to something else. In any
case, it lasted for only two issues.
The final motto change comes on the issue #51
cover: "For The Serious User Of
Personal Computers". 'Reality', so to speak, had arrived. Even so, the first section of
"IBM" adventure hints and deprotects did not surface until the next issue and reviews of
PC software were still several issues away.
Computist never tried to become a PC
magazine. We (by this time I was on the
'staff') did many PC stuff reviews because we knew our readers were buying PC's and,
because, eventually, PC stuff was about the only new stuff out there. From the first
issue through Issue #68 (when use of a motto was dropped) and on to the final
published issue (#89), Computist remained, primarily, an Apple II magazine
'for Serious Apple II Users'.