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First Issue
Volume Number:10
Issue Number:12
Column Tag:The Very First Issue

Related Info: First Cover

The Very First Issue

Ten years doesn’t seem like so long ago

By Scott T Boyd, Editor

Note: Source code files accompanying article are located on MacTech CD-ROM or source code disks.

About the Author

Scott T Boyd - Scott first wrote for MacTutor in the September 1986 issue on the topic of The Pop-up, Two Dimensional, Random Access, Scroll Bar Menu. Although he credits MacTutor with helping to launch his career, he would like to point out that this particular concept didn’t make him filthy rich (as kindly requested in one of his articles). Perhaps that has something to do with why he continues to work, currently as Editor of MacTech Magazine and Proprietor of The MacHax™ Group.

I don’t think I could forget the first time I saw MacTutor. Or was it MacTech? Ok, so Iforgot that much - but the rest I won’t forget. My friend Roger had somehow come across a copy of a magazine about how to program the Macintosh. He brought it to one of our programmer get-togethers. Joy! It was pretty hard to get any documentation, much less good documentation, about programming the Macintosh at Texas A&M back in early 1985.

Now, to understand Roger, it might help to know a little about him. I bought my first Mac brand new for $2500. That got me a 128K Mac and an ImageWriter. I gave Roger a demo. He spent an hour or so almost silently watching me give him a demo. I got the distinct impression that he wasn’t impressed at all. Boy, was Iwrong! The next day he went out and bought as complete a Macintosh system as you could buy. His excitement rubbed off on me, and I went back and bought a second floppy drive. I still remember shopping to buy floppies (800K). Those things were expensive, something like $10 each. It makes me laugh remembering this because now I consider floppies a nuisance. They just clutter up my shelves.

At any rate, Roger’s infectious excitement isn’t the kind to stay bottled up, and he came to our meeting with a couple of copies of this new magazine, one copy for me, and one for Greg Marriott. Now, these had to be the worst copies I had ever seen. Somehow the toner had gotten only partially fixed onto the paper. We had to handle the pages very carefully, but we didn’t mind a bit. With this one little magazine, we went from having next to nothing in the way of practical programmer’s advice, experience, and examples, to having a rich monthly resource! Given that Roger was the only one with money to spend on such things, he made copies of the first three issue for us before we managed to get our own subscriptions. I still have those bad xerox copies stored carefully as the treasures that they are.

On the next few pages we have reproduced the entire first issue. We scanned the only real copy that we had left. Since I work in the remote wilds of Montara, California, I didn’t see the original before Isaw the scans. I thought something must have gone wrong in the scanning process - everything was far muddier than Iexpected. I had remembered that the first few issues were done on an ImageWriter, and probably at 72 dpi, but I hadn’t remembered that the magazine itself looked like it had been reproduced on a cheap copier. On closer inspection, it’s clear now that much of the magazine was also put together using good old cut and paste techniques. This serves as a reminder of how far we’ve come in the production of the magazine. Rather than 72dpi, we image at 2540dpi. Rather than use only MacWrite, MacPaint, and MacDraw, we use QuarkXPress, PhotoShop, Illustrator, and a host of other publishing and imaging utilities. There’s no cheap copier involved in today’s production; we print on a Web press and do a lot of four-color printing.

We discovered something interesting while putting this article together. Ipassed around some different scans to a few folks to see which settings they thought produced the best results. Steve Kiene went and compared them to his copy of the first issue. He noticed something right away. His magazine was entitled “MacTutor™ (Formerly MacTech)” while our copy read “COMPUtutor’s MacTech”. Both were clearly labeled Vol. 1 No. 1. There’s a story in there somewhere about a company called Machine Technologies, but we’ll leave that for someone else to tell. One thing has definitely changed during the past decade. Our masthead now reads “MacTech Magazine (Formerly MacTutor)”, bringing us full circle.

The first issue was twenty pages, and carried only a couple of ads, all for the magazine itself. By the following December, it had grown to seventy two pages, and was carried in stores in twenty nine states as well as West Germany, Japan, and Sweden. In addition, thirty two advertisers came on board in that first year. Some of those names you’ll see are still with us as regular advertisers (e.g. MacNosy and Mainstay). Many are still writing and selling Macintosh software, including Alsoft, Capilano Computing, and FWB. Some have faded into fond memories.

The first issue rang in the beginning of the era of programming on the Macintosh for the Macintosh. Prior to this, just about all Mac programming had been done on the Lisa. We’ve watched such an event pass before us again this year. Last year, about the only way to program a Power Macintosh was on an IBM unix box. Power Mac programmers rang in the new year with Code Warrior, a programming environment for the Power Macintosh on the Macintosh (Power and 68K).

We’re not using 128K Macs with a single (singing) floppy and no hard drive any more, although there are undoubtedly those among us who still scrape and save to buy those necessary supplies. The complexity and sophistication of most of our tools have increased dramatically, but here we are, still programming and learning about a machine we call Macintosh.

Many things have changed in the realm of Macintosh programming over the past decade, but one thing has not. See page 20 of the first issue. “A no-nonsense, no fluff Journal devoted to software development FORMac, ONMac. Let MacTech’s editorial board teach you the Macintosh technology of windows, quickdraw, events and resources. We have assembled a team of professionals to uncover and explain Mac’s secrets.” The programming staff has changed somewhat, but still includes professionals, some of whom are busy building the next generation of Macintosh.

We hope you enjoy reading (or rereading!)this piece of ancient history as we celebrate MacTech Magazine’s Tenth Anniversary. In this business, a decade is nearly a lifetime. After all this time and almost one hundred and twenty issues of the magazine later, we’re pleased to continue to bring you the latest and greatest programming information for and about the Macintosh, on the Macintosh.


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