The Old BYTE Returns

Jan 02, 2014 (04:01 AM EST)

Read the Original Article at

Welcome back to the old BYTE, the prestigious print magazine that ran from 1975 to 1998. This is the beginning of a project to recover what content we can from those beloved issues and put them online.

1975 was the dawn of the modern computer age.

The first issue of BYTE
The first issue of BYTE
(click for that issue)
Months before, Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) had begun selling the Altair 8800, a kit to build the first general-purpose computer based on a microprocessor. MITS didn't use the term, but it was the first microcomputer, an innovation that would change the world.

Later that year another innovation came along: A magazine to guide readers through the new world of computers inexpensive enough that ordinary people could afford them. Well, maybe not ordinary. Using microcomputers of that era is about as easy as learning Klingon. You needed to be an expert and/or infatuated with computers in order to deal with them, and they held no appeal at all to ordinary people.

In May 1977, Apple's Stephen Wozniak wrote a System Description: The Apple-II for BYTE. Click here to read that article.

BYTE wasn't speaking to non-techies. Here are some of the story titles from that first issue:

At the time, this was mainstream stuff for technology publishing.

Thanks to the Internet, today technical information like this is a search away, but back in the day of BYTE there were few sources accessible to most people.

The title of the first issue was "Computers — The World's Greatest Toy!" This is still true today, although also outdated in that so many toys these days are, in fact, computers. But I think the real meaning of "Toy" in the title is how you can have endless fun tinkering with computers, and this is certainly still true.

Click here for the full BYTE Archives

For now what we have done is to provide tables of contents which links to the individual articles in each issue. Those articles are PDF files of a manageable size. Alternatively, you can download the entire issue as a PDF. Some of these files are quite large, running hundreds of megabytes. In the whole issue you will also see the advertisements, although we hope to make those more accessible in the future.

Click here to read the first issue of BYTE dated September, 1975

Initially we have 6 issues: September 1975, October 1975, a special Fall 1984 issue, a special November 1985 issue, September 1986 and December 1986. Our first priority is to finish the years 1975 and 1976.

The first issue of BYTE would cost you $1.50 on a newsstand, if you could find it. Or you could become a charter subscriber for only $10 a year. (click to see fully-enlarged subscription order page.

Indeed, the ads were always half the fun and half the point of reading BYTE back in the day. Like other such magazines, it came with a "Reader Service" section at the back which was a table of contents to the advertisements. In issue 1 Reader Service is on page 96 of the issue, page 98 of the PDF (pages 1 and 2 of the PDF are the outside and inside front cover).

You may also notice that there is a Letters section (page 87) in the first issue. Have you ever wondered how they get letters to the editor in the first issue of a magazine? Good question, but it's a trade secret, so I'm not going to tell.

Have fun with these first 6 issues and check back on BYTE for when we release more.