The smell of paper
I haven't seen that topic earlier in the Geminispace, despite it's connected with an overall retro and nostalgic theme, which I think is near the Gemini origins. Probably many of us prefer to read paper magazines or newspapers rather than their electronic versions. There is some kind of magic, which is connected with the smell of paper. Not that real one, although sometimes the smell of printing ink is a catalyst for memories, but that feeling that we can read the real paper thing held in our hands.
My thoughts are about Pixel Magazine, a Polish retro computer magazine published by the organiser of Pixel Heaven Festival, which went bankrupt several days ago. It was published in the years 2015-2022, but it was a reincarnation of the older Polish magazines, which are surrounded by reverence and worship by many grow up computer players. I'd like to write about them because it could be interesting and unheard of in other countries.
Wild, wild East
In the late eighties, Poland was freed from the impact of the Soviet Union. For decades it was uncommon to have personal computers in Poland, what was caused by the weakness of Polish money and the technological embargo set on the whole Soviet block. But in the late eighties, more and more private people brought personal computers from the West. Richer people have computers, the rest want to read about them in magazines. The magazines were also the main source of information on the immature Polish computer market.
It was not until the mid-1990s that copyright law was also regulated, which previously did not give real owners a chance against computer pirates. The situation was so bad that there almost wasn't any legal source of computer software in Poland until the nineties. Computer software was "purchased" on the bazaars, or copied from friends, friends of friends, and so on. So there were full of software without any instructions or other materials accompanying releases in the West. People want to play computer games, and don't know where to buy them and how to play them.
The first computer magazines
The first computer magazines were born in this harsh environment. I remember the most:
- Top Secret (1990 - 1996) with average 100 000 copies for one issue
- Secret Service (1993 - 2001) with average 150 000 copies for one issue
- Gambler (1993 - 1999) with average 80 000 copies for one issue
And every Polish computer player who was a child or a teenager in the nineties knows those titles. That magazines are in an important position in every memory from that time. That articles sometimes created an imaginations, which lasted to this day. Sometimes people couldn't play a computer game, because they don't had a real computer, but they could see that game on the pages of a magazine. Sometimes articles are describing fake stories of computer game worlds, because authors wrote what they thought, without knowing the real facts. Weird things were happening from today's point of view. But everyone was satisfied. That was the colorful world of our childhood.
Of course, Polish magazines were inspired by, for example, British Crash (1984 - 1992) or Zzap!64 (1985 - 1992) with 100 000 copies in a peak. The popularity and demand for that type of magazine shifted a bit in Poland. Their popularity in Poland collapsed in the era of greater access to broadband internet and CD-R drives because people could obtain information and games without the printed press.
Several years ago, as a crowdfunding campaign (collected more than 50 000 EUR), Pixel Magazine was founded. Because many people wanted to return to their childhood. Past times of standing in a shop queue for their colorful computer magazines. For many of them that was the first printed magazine after almost two decades. They got what they wanted. Many old magazines authors joined Pixel Magazine and start writing again about computer games. It's said that the reborn Pixel Magazine was wiped out by paper prices, instead of Internet and CDs like the old ones. Or despite the joy of paper print it isn't possible to go back to that childhood times?
There is only one computer magazine in Poland, which is monthly issued now, but it's focused rather on modern computer games, and it isn't referring to the old times.
[fan site about Polish computer magazines]
[Gambler on Archive.org]
[Secret Service on Archive.org]
[Top Secret on Archive.org]
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@Tue 06 Dec 2022 10:58:24 PM CET