Byte Magazine – 23 Years of Computer History

Byte Magazine – 23 Years of Computer History

I’ve been working on this one in the background since I’ve started moving into the office. But I’m finally ready to share the complete collection of Byte magazine I’ve been able to put together!

A complete scanned library of Byte:

0:00 Intro
1:40 What is Byte?
3:25 Breadth and Depth
5:30 The end of Byte
6:54 Making a Collection
9:15 Protecting a Collection
12:02 Getting to the fun part
12:44 Issue #1
19:45 September 1976
21:56 Scan and Search
23:23 Steve Ciarcia Projects
27:56 First Mention of Linux
31:30 Researching Can Still Be Hard
36:33 The Last Issue

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  1. TCD4321 on October 4, 2022 at 5:02 am

    The view when looking at the magazines is just amazing! Really cool and interesting video.

  2. Uni-Byte on October 4, 2022 at 5:03 am

    Seriously dude, if you want those magazines to last I’d suggest you learn how to turn the pages properly.

  3. sdrc92126 on October 4, 2022 at 5:03 am

    I grew up with computer magazines. BYTE! was my favorite, albeit over my head at the time. I spent hours a day at the library, reading every single one, including the ads cover to cover. And yes, I’ve read every single issue of BYTE! starting in 1975.
    Unfortunately, when I had enough money to get a subscription, they very quickly went downhill

  4. Lawrence D’Oliveiro on October 4, 2022 at 5:03 am

    33:33 That looks like a Robert Tinney cover. When did he start doing cover art for _BYTE_ ?

  5. KLund1100 on October 4, 2022 at 5:04 am

    Keep it simple; Like Byte, Love SoftSide magazine !!!!

  6. marcwolf60 on October 4, 2022 at 5:04 am

    BYTE was my constant companion from when I became interesting in computers. I have many prized issues including the one where they showed the original wire-wrapped IBM PC

  7. Jared Connell on October 4, 2022 at 5:04 am

    You should do mini segments of things you find in these magazines. You could call them ‘byte sized’

  8. David Evens on October 4, 2022 at 5:05 am

    135 GB disk array, the size of a refrigerator. Now you can’t get a single disk that small.

  9. trance dj on October 4, 2022 at 5:08 am

    pretty cool man. now you just need to scan each issue and upload it to the internet archive and you’ll be done! 😉

  10. Lawrence D’Oliveiro on October 4, 2022 at 5:09 am

    21:33 That letter from Bill Gates is quite (in)famous.

  11. Tech Tangents on October 4, 2022 at 5:09 am

    At 30:14 there is a rough jump, that was supposed to be cut but a different tweak I made brought it back and I didn’t catch it. There is nothing missing, I just rephrased something better.

  12. Kins 74 on October 4, 2022 at 5:11 am

    I could spend days on end reading all of those…

  13. Digital Archaeologist on October 4, 2022 at 5:13 am

    X server for DOS. Believe it baby! haha

  14. Christopher Jackson on October 4, 2022 at 5:13 am

    I love how this magazine is available on the internet archive. I’ve spent many a lazy Sunday digging back into the past of computer science.

  15. survivor303 on October 4, 2022 at 5:14 am


  16. David Evens on October 4, 2022 at 5:14 am

    I was a kid in the 70’s, and Star Trek reruns were EVERYWHERE. Both the original series and the animated series. It was actually more popular ten years after it originally aired than when it first aired, and Star Trek fans made utterly swamped existing science fiction conventions from the first season. (There’s a story of one convention in New York City where they eventually gave up trying to collect a membership fee and give a badge of some sort to all the would-be attendees and just let everyone in for free.)

  17. Michael Hanlon on October 4, 2022 at 5:14 am

    Don’t laugh about using a blow torch. My high school electronics teacher had us do exactly that with scrap boards he acquired. It worked great and was an easy way to get the chips (and other components) off the board. As I recall, no chips were harmed in this endeavor. We didn’t need vice grips, rather we just rapped the board on the walkway outside the classroom and out they came. This was 1974.

  18. Doug Wheeler on October 4, 2022 at 5:15 am

    The lead times on magazines was typically 2-3 months. The amount of work to edit and layout a magazine in those days was significant and the printing and binding were all much more primitive. Then there’s shipping to distributors around the country, and final delivery to stores. They usually tried to have magazines on the shelves in the month prior to the cover date. For freelance articles, the lead time was often 9-12 months after acceptance until publication.

    Another quick comment: you should discuss "reader service cards" sometime – they were one of the best features of these types of magazines.

  19. monomonster on October 4, 2022 at 5:15 am

    Byte and Creative Computing were two of my favourite computer mags.

  20. Lawrence D’Oliveiro on October 4, 2022 at 5:17 am

    Somebody should invent a dot-matrix blackboard. Because if there’s anything at least as teeth-gritting as the squeak of chalk on a blackboard, it has to be the mini-buzzsaw shriek of a dot-matrix printer, so why not create a gadget that combines both sounds into one?

  21. Groovert Duidlle on October 4, 2022 at 5:21 am

    Great job budy!

  22. Lawrence D’Oliveiro on October 4, 2022 at 5:21 am

    40:14 Push servers … anybody remember Pointcast? At one point in the early days of broadband, it was the number one consumer of bandwidth on the Internet.

  23. noferblatz on October 4, 2022 at 5:24 am

    I was a Byte subscriber. Best computer mag ever.

  24. Chris Cebelenski on October 4, 2022 at 5:26 am

    Wow, someone else with a complete set? I thought I was the only one! Actually I think I’m missing some of ’77 and ’78. And yes, I’ve read through most of them!

  25. Mrshoujo on October 4, 2022 at 5:28 am

    I think it was in Byte magazine where an article was written for a project you could build which allowed you to dump Atari 2600 cartridges to tape and load them back in and play on the 2600. It used a Z80 on its own PCB.

  26. RetroAndGaming on October 4, 2022 at 5:29 am

    Love to hear more about what OCR tool you use to extract text from pdf’s as I’d like to do the same for my collections of scanned magazines. Also how you do the searching. is it just grep or something more advanced.

  27. Lawrence D’Oliveiro on October 4, 2022 at 5:30 am

    25:17 Sirius/Victor 9000 — amazing machine, with capabilities beyond your regular IBM PC or compatible. Unfortunately it wasn’t compatible enough, so it died …

  28. Lurker1979 on October 4, 2022 at 5:35 am

    I love Wayne Green. It was such a cool guy. Had a great enthusiasm on many technical subjects.

  29. Mitch McCann on October 4, 2022 at 5:35 am

    Please cover that Phillips drive when you find the card.

  30. Carlos PC on October 4, 2022 at 5:35 am

    I started College in 1989 and when I found that the library had Byte Magazine I spent many many hours reading as many issues as I could. I can say that I learned most of what I know about PCs and the computer industry from BYTE.

  31. Carlos PC on October 4, 2022 at 5:35 am

    Some stuff might be laughable to you 29:13 but just as today many companies try to innovate to find the next great thing. And just as today many produce failed products.

  32. Daryl Cheshire on October 4, 2022 at 5:36 am

    I recall that Byte offered Byte branded binders which stored a years supply.

  33. Lawrence D’Oliveiro on October 4, 2022 at 5:37 am

    25:12 Ad for DEC VAX and PDP-11 and Unix stuff — minis and superminis — not just the “small systems journal” any more.

  34. Esra Erimez on October 4, 2022 at 5:39 am

    I know the stated reasons for why Byte was canceled but did you know that the next issue of Byte Magazine before it was canceled would have been about free operating systems like FreeBSD and Linux? There are rumors that Microsoft had the whole magazine killed before it was published.

  35. Steel String on October 4, 2022 at 5:44 am

    This reminds me of my childhood. After years of playing Atari 2600 games and not really thinking about how those games came to exist, I heard from my mom that there were similar devices with keyboards like a typewriter that people used to create the games. Then my school passed out order forms one day for Children’s Television Workshop magazines. I got my mom to subscribe to ENTER magazine. It was aimed at kids and didn’t last a long time, but it introduced me to BASIC and to type-in program listings.

    From there, I moved on to COMPUTE! Magazine and then got my mom to buy me an Atari 130XE. I bought a bunch of COMPUTE!’s books (among others), from which I learned a lot about programming, including 6502 assembly. And when COMPUTE! moved away from the type-in listings and hobbyist-oriented coverage, I subscribed to ANTIC magazine.

    In 1991, I got Internet access for the first time and the magazines started to fade into the background, but I do still feel a lot of nostalgia for that time.

  36. Timothy P on October 4, 2022 at 5:45 am

    I came to Byte sometime in my mid-late teens — possibly after I’d gone off to Uni, maybe just before. Only kept a few pages — the NeXT review — which are still lurking somewhere. Here in the UK there was also Personal Computer World (aka PCW) … I started to learn BASIC by reading program listings in PCW and imagining what they’d do 😂. The College Library also kept copies of the much less known (here, anyway) Dr Dobbs Journal which was a fascinating read, perhaps to a slightly deeper technical level.

    All these magazines are no more, with the ubiquity of PCs and clones spelling the end for interesting machine reviews.

  37. Daryl Cheshire on October 4, 2022 at 5:45 am

    I remember in the early ‘80s parallel printers had differing standards and you had to set up the printer cable according to the schematic they provided. Thank goodness for standards. I bought a dot matrix parallel printer for the enormous sum of $280 but I used it on every computer I had for 15 years.

  38. Charlie Dobson on October 4, 2022 at 5:46 am

    So few people appreciate the fascinating history recorded in these magazines. I have a few issues of BYTE but I primarily collected PC Magazine & Computer Shopper. Going back through these and looking at the hyperbolic headlines of the day and the prices of the average systems of the time is a treasure I’ll never stop enjoying.

  39. Lawrence D’Oliveiro on October 4, 2022 at 5:47 am

    15:13 Just checked my copy of _Fire In The Valley_ , and it relates how Ed Roberts of MITS actually thought he owned Microsoft BASIC. The dispute surfaced when the company was being sold to Pertec, who actually threatened to kill it if they didn’t get owership of BASIC. The matter went to arbitration, and Gates/Allen won.

  40. Mortar Mopp on October 4, 2022 at 5:48 am

    I can appreciate your appreciation of old computer magazines. Back in the ’80s I had a rather significant collection of Computer magazines: Byte, Kilobaud, Interface Age, Creative Computing, Compute (US), Compute Gazette, ROM, Computer Shopper, et al. Some titles I had the complete run. At the height of my collection, I had ~21 paper ream boxes of magazines. I even had a custom bookcase made that would stand up to the enormous weight of all these issues (seeing yours, I probably didn’t need to do that).

    Due to circumstances, I had to move to smaller spaces (you know how it is) and found I wouldn’t be able to take my mags with me. So, I did the only thing I could do…I threw them out…<GASP!> I know, I know, but at the time, I really had no other options. In retrospect, I should’ve kept at least one box of the most meaningful issues of each title, but I didn’t think of that then. Years later, I discovered Internet Archives and found that a lot of my mags were there, including most–if not all of–Byte. Still, to this day, I regret having to toss all that history out.

    Star Trek and computers have been a thing since the early ’70s when mainframes were still king. Back then, you weren’t a respectable computer center if you didn’t have Star Trek or Super Star Trek in your library. Of course, these were often clandestine programs that would only come out at night; management just wouldn’t understand. Consequently, listings started showing up in newsletters and later, computer magazines, including Byte. My favorite Byte cover is from the December, ’77 issue.

    Although the size of the magazine grew, a lot of it was due to increased ad sales. If you removed all the ads, you’d have about half the original number of pages.

    Watching this was very nostalgic, and a bit sad. Still, I’m glad it’s here.

  41. Dorelaxen on October 4, 2022 at 5:50 am

    There’s a local antique store that gets stuff like this from time to time. I know the owner, and he knows I collect this sort of stuff, so he’ll pick them up when he sees them. Last year I got a bunch of Byte mags from the late 70’s, and man, it’s absolutely fascinating. The predictions they made were equal parts hilarious (super high density magnetic tape that can hold up to 5 megs of data) to damn near Nostradamus levels of accurate (predicting the internet and online gaming). Such a cool trip back in time.

  42. Lawrence D’Oliveiro on October 4, 2022 at 5:50 am

    39:09 Windows NT is a separate OS category.

  43. András Stöckert on October 4, 2022 at 5:50 am

    I sometimes read Byte from the Internet Archive. I especially love the ads as a look back.

  44. N8tehAdventurer - Adventures in Gaming on October 4, 2022 at 5:51 am

    If you are curious about the Dimension 68K computer, there is a person you can talk to regarding them. Their name on Twitch is DimensionDude, and I believe he also has a channel here on Youtube? He is really well versed regarding the machine and I think he has some of the hardware, but I am not 100% certain on that. The machine is a fascinating study, and it seems that the company had hardware ready to go and then went belly up, resulting in all of the machines and components being shelved. But I can’t be 100% on that, but definitely talk to DimensionDude as I think he can fill you in much better than I can.

  45. Lawrence D’Oliveiro on October 4, 2022 at 5:52 am

    9:05 “Life-sized” might be referring to _Life_ magazine, which had quite a large format as I recall.

  46. Lysander Spooner on October 4, 2022 at 5:52 am

    I remember buying a Compaq 14" LCD in 1998 or 1999. It was really expensive and small.

  47. Chuck Peck on October 4, 2022 at 5:56 am

    I experience the computer revolution between 79-99 in the flesh, so I don’t need those magazines. But those that did not experience that like I did can find an invaluable cache of history in those pages for sure.

  48. Daryl Cheshire on October 4, 2022 at 5:57 am

    I remember Chaos Manor written by Jerry Pournelle. Byte was thick but had a lot of ads.

  49. David Evens on October 4, 2022 at 5:59 am

    I was just looking for any indication of a public store of Shugart Associates floppy drive mechanism blueprints (and discovered that the company that ended up with them appears to still be in business, as a custom manufacturing company supplying a whole bunch of industries, meaning they probably act as a single contact point for a whole raft of Chinese factories) and I ran across a reference to Shugart having something similar to that ‘data plate’ storage device, except it was 1 GB per platter, perhaps they modified it to use both sides of the platter.

  50. ian frogfish on October 4, 2022 at 5:59 am

    X server for dos?!?? 😮

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