In the early days of Family Computing, it was very much like other multi-format computer magazines of the time. It supported multiple computers with type-in programs, reviews, and various articles. Family Computing was somewhat unique in that it supported, at least to some degree, a large number of computers, including ones that were orphaned or no longer supported by the manufacturer and thus typically weren’t covered in other magazines (e.g. the Coleco Adam). Family Computing survived from 1983 all the way until 2001 so it was a particularly successful example though it changed a lot over the years.
The problem I had with magazines like this was that most people didn’t have multiple computers so it always seemed to me like you were better off buying a magazine dedicated to the machine you owned. Owners of Commodore, Apple or IBM PC computers had many to chose from but I suppose owners of less supported machines had fewer choices. The inaugural issue of Family Computing included coverage of some sort for the Apple II, Commodore 64, PC (DOS), VIC-20, Atari 8-bit, TI-99/4A, TRS-80, Timex, and possibly others. A pretty impressive list.
Contents of the September 1983 issue include:
- How to Program Success Into Your Computer
- The Bad Boy of Computing – An exclusive interview with Peter McWilliams, the irreverent author of bestselling computer guides.
- Meet Tom Ball: Game Maker – A year behind in math when he got his computer, this teenage college freshman is paying his tuition with earning from two nationally distributed computer games.
- How to Build a Compact Computer Console for $25
- Portrait of a Computing Family: Part 1 – The Conningtons Buy a Computer
- Computer Buyer’s Guide: A Look at the Leading Brands
- When Kerrie Holton Talks, Atari Listens – How a New Orleans teenager earned herself a spot on this leading computer company’s Youth Advisory Board.
- Programming Guide – Seasonal programming fun and learning – for the Apple, Atari, Commodore 64 and VIC-20, IBM, TI, Timex, and TRS-80.
- Reader-Written Programs – Home insulation for fuel bill savings, Pig Latin for fun.
What’s In Store
- Software Guide
- Software Reviews
- New Hardware Announcements
- Novelties and Notions – A compendium of computer-related terms.
- Book Reviews
- Home Business – From Diapers to Disk Drives
- Computing Confidential – Confessions of a former computer phobic