It was quite a shock to find out today of the demise of MacUser Magazine and to realise that the edition that I had just received was the last one.
Only an aside in the editorial about the magazine’s circulation – mentioning it as being smaller than Charlie Hebdo’s (pre January 7th), seemed to point to an uncertain future.
I’ve been a reader of Mac User since the early 90s and a subscriber since 1995. In fact I first bought it when I made the decision to buy an Apple Mac over of all things an Amstrad Computer.That decision seems completely peculiar now. But at that time I’d gone from a typewriter to a friends Amstrad computer, which I’d used for script formatting, not writing, because it didn’t have any writing tools.
I’d only used an Apple computer at college during a magazine project. All I really remember is how long it took to launch Aldus Pagemaker – so long that to relieve boredom I’d position the watch symbol over the eye of Aldus Manutius (I always assumed it was Guttenberg).One Sunday night I remember flicking through the Argos catalogue and thinkink I must buy my own Amstrad and then quite out of the blue thinking, what about an Apple Mac.
At that time the choice of which Mac to buy and where to buy it was incredibly confusing. I needed advice and so sought it from one of my former lecturers at Kingsway College. The advice I got was buy MacUser.
Still it was a very confusing time. There seemed to be so many models and configurations and their names were not much help. It wasn’t until Steve Jobs returned to Apple and simplified the range of models available that buying a Mac became much more straightforward.
At that time MacUser was chock-a-block with ads for various suppliers. There were always pages and pages from Computer Warehouse. But now the majority of those companies have also gone out of business. The Apple Retail stores pretty much killed them off. One of the only companies that is still around from that time is Jigsaw.
MacUser was at that time bi-weekly and always full of news and reviews of new kit and demonstrations. It also never seemed to just be a PR piece for Apple and even in the last issue there is an article critical of the state of Apple’s operating system and software. But crucially this story was one that I had already read on my iPad from the news aggregator App Flipboard.
In the last couple of years MacUser switched from bi-weekly to a monthly magazine. The paper stock became heavier – and in the case of the cover was given a beautiful matt finish that said premium. But there was less inside that felt vitally important to read, less that I couldn’t just Google and find elsewhere.
A month now seems like a lifetime. Sometimes so much seems to happen between the first edition of a newspaper being printed and when it is delivered a few hours later that the print version often just seems redundant. As someone who has always loved magazines and printed news, writing this is very upsetting.
From reading MacUser I chose as my first Mac a Performa 400 which I bought in the end from Dixons, at Tottenham Hale Retail Park. It was the second cheapest Mac available, it was all I could afford.
It came with Claris Works which was such a big step up from the software that was on the Amstrads. In fact Claris Works got me through my degree, I didn’t start using Word until I started working in an office where that was the default software package on all the Windows 95 machines.
The articles, features and problem pages in Mac User helped me get the best out of that Performa 400 and subsequently my Performa 6400, G4, iBook, and various iMacs.
Everyone is in someway or another an Apple User now, but using them will be a lot less interesting and informed without Mac User.