I was listening to the This Week in Tech podcast this past week when panel member Brian Brushwood mentioned a magazine that fueled his interest in technology as a child: Enter Magazine. Although I don't officially work in a technology profession or surround myself with technology people, I've never heard anyone mention this magazine before and I was beginning to think I was the only one that ever subscribed to it (which might explain why it only lasted for 17 issues).
The mere mention of Enter magazine brought back a flood of fond memories. I'm not sure where my mom heard about the existence of this magazine, but she must have thought it would appeal to me because it arrived in our mailbox one day. I was hooked, and could barely wait until I received my new edition each month.
I have fond memories of taking the magazine to school and typing in BASIC programs, line for line, into the the classroom Apple IIE. Once I the program worked I'd start modifying it and customizing it to do and say the things I wanted it to. This was the perfect way to learn programming, perhaps the ONLY way: my small parochial school didn't have programming classes. Furthermore, I don't recall ever encountering a book about programming during my childhood, and of course the Internet didn't exist, at least not outside big universities and the military. The only way a kid in small town Wisconsin could learn to program was to see BASIC commands in a magazine and then spend countless hours experimenting with them to to learn how to unlock their full potential.
One day my mom got a letter from Children's Television Workshop that said Enter Magazine was no longer going to be published. In it's place I would receive 3-2-1 Contact Magazine, which would have an "Enter" section. Needless to say, I was dismayed - I'd seen 3-2-1 Contact at school - it was OK as every kid was fascinated with the red-eyed day-glo tree frogs that always seemed to be on the cover, but it wasn't going to compare to Enter. I was devastated.
So, when Brian Brushwood mentioned this publication I was filled with nostalgia. I did a Google search and found almost nothing for "Enter Magazine" - very disappointing. However, there was a short Wikipedia article. This article linked to a Web site called retromags, which seems to be a place where people can upload old magazines. To my surprise, there were images of all 17 issues of the Enter covers. Even better, all the pages of every issue were downloadable. With a little finagling I was able to download them onto my iPad. I was thrilled at this accomplishment, despite the fact that it merely induced my wife to sadly shake her head.
While browsing the premier issue of Enter I'm reliving the excitement of my 11 year old self. Some high points from this issue include:
- Can Computers Go Crazy? The reality behind "WarGames" and "Superman III". Includes an interview with Matthew Broderick.
- Video Games: The Falls Biggest Hits. Includes Atari versions of Ms. Pacman, BurgerTime, Qix, and Centipede.
- Moving Maps. "You're driving along in a car, and you make a quick turn. Guess what? YOu're lost. Instead of pulling out a road map, though, you push a button. A 6"x8" screen above the radio instantly shows a map .. but what's that triangle moving along the screen? Your car!". The article goes on to explain how this device pulls down information from a satellite and might be available in 5 years. That would have been 1988 - I don't remember having GPS during the Reagan administration!
- Buying the Right Computer. Choices range from a $50 2k RAM Timex /Sinclair with only cassette tape storage [this was actually my first computer] to a $199 64k Commodore 64 to a $1265 64-512k IBM PS (who would need all that RAM?).
- Progress Report: Video Discs. Video discs look like silver record albums played on futuristic record players, but with a video disc player you get sound and video.
Ah, the memories! Did anyone besides me subscribe to Enter?