The UK’s only weekly printed computer hobby magazine, Micro Mart (perhaps better known by retro fans as the original Micro Computer Mart, back in the day) is celebrating its thirtieth birthday in its current issue, number 1,390!
Micro Computer Mart was launched in November 1985 as a fortnightly publication consisting of classified advert listings for the computer trade. The magazine soon expanded in editorial content to include articles and reviews from many realms of computing, at a time when the market was still full of quirky and diverse hobbyist, home and business systems and before the current domination by IBM-compatible clones, Apple and tablets. It became popular with both amateur and professional system builders. In 1991, due to reader demands, Micro Mart moved to a weekly format.
On 14 November 2002 (issue 723) the magazine moved to a full colour format, having previously been printed (internally at least) in black and white. At this time, Micro Mart also expanded in content.
This past week’s special issue (dated 26 Nov-2 Dec), apart from the usual preponderance of hardware reviews and specialist features, is a little chunkier than usual, celebrating as it does the magazine’s birthday, mainly with two special features. The first is an article by James Hunt entitled ‘Personal Computing: 1985-2015’ which is about the huge rise and gradual decline of the IBM compatible computer (an interesting overview, if rather dismissive of the many other hobby machines which actually made the home computer revolution). The second, ‘The Writer’s Tale’, is a personal reminiscence by Mark Pickavance about his years as a computer journalist and particularly his time as a contributor to Micro Mart since 1993. There’s also a one-pager by David Briddock highlighting some events and figures from the year of Micro Computer Mart’s birth.
Back in the day
I must admit I remember the good old days of the original Micro Computer Mart in the 1980s with great fondness; I actually penned a few articles and reviews for them in 1987-1989, when their first publishers, MicroMart (UK) Ltd, were based in Olton, Solihull. I still buy the occasional copy today, usually when I spot something of particular interest in the intermittent retro columns. This time around, the mag includes a remembrance of ‘Chuckie Egg’ on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum by David Hayward and a ‘Retro Round Up’ by Dave Edward of a pretty average-looking load of modern 8-bit games.
Despite today’s apparent declining interest in ‘home’ computer magazines (apart from those covering Linux and the Raspberry Pi…), and the loss of many major monthly titles over the past three decades, Micro Mart still manages to maintain its niche on the shelves of major newsagents, albeit often thinner than it once was, and that resilience is certainly something to celebrate after all these years.
Happy Birthday, Micro Mart!