Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy 25th Anniversary MacIntosh! Computer Magazines

Future magazine historians will likely view the magazines that document the early development of computers as the most important periodicals of the last quarter of the twentieth century.

I asked my friend and fellow collector, David Leishman of Los Gatos, California to provide me with a brief history of these publications. Aside from his long association with the most important contemporary music magazine, Rolling Stone, David is a freelance writer and my "go to" expert on magazines of the twentieth century. The following is a product (mostly David's work) of our association.

The first non-trade magazine in the computing field, BYTE, launched in 1975 and became "information central" for the first wave of periodicals for early computer hobbyists.

Kilobaud, started in 1979, was another widely-read magazine targeted for early computer geeks.

The most successful of the early PCs was Apple Computer's Apple II (Apple I was little more than a circuit board thrown into a wooden box), introduced in 1977, which won its own magazines, including Apple, which was litttle more than an advertisement and catalog for the computer itself.

During the 1984 Super Bowl, Apple ran what TV Guide later called the greatest commercial of all time

Two days later, a computer sat on a stage and introduced itself by announcing, "Hello, I am Macintosh," after Apple co-founder Steve Jobs prompted it with a floppy disk. The Mac employed a host of concepts labs metaphor, wherein text appeared as black characters on a white background, i.e., a page. This was the exact opposite of the standard PC interface, and like the 1984 ad, revolutionary. What Mac users saw on their screens looked just as it would when they printed it out! St. Mac was issued at the launch of the Mac, a mere quarter century ago

Over the next couple years, the new box spawned a publishing mini-universe of its own, with titles such as Macworld, Macazine, MacUser and Macintouch. During that time, Apple licensed AdobeSystems' PostScript system, which when coupled with Aldus Corporation's PageMaker software, enabled users to produce professional quality documents, including magazines!

This sparked the advent of desktop publishing, and gave rise in 1987 to the "go-to" magazine for "DTP," MacWEEK. Steve Jobs, who had been forced out of Apple in 1985, launched NeXT Computerin '88, which in 1991 gained its own magazine, NeXTWorld, just as the company stopped making computers. The early '90s, in general, weren't kind to either Apple or Jobs. But Jobs' 1986 investment in the Pixar animation studio paid off in 1995 when the company produced Toy Story, the first in a string of award-winning, cash-vacuuming box office hits. Apple acquired NeXT in 1996, with the intent to build a new Mac operating system on its software, and Jobs rejoined Apple management. A year later, Jobs re-established himself as the head of Apple, and incredible feats in American business history system and his extraordinary marketing vision to turn the moribund company into an electronics product powerhouse, one of the most respected brands in the world. The birth of iPhone Life is testament to the fact that Apple's technological mojo remains vital and almost prescient.

In the early 1980's IBM swaggered into the market, and computers became common in offices and, increasingly, in homes. PC Magazine (1982) and PC World (1983) were launched by the same editorial team for competing publishers, and became the dominant titles in technology publishing.

As the importance and universe of the personal computer and the internet continue their meteoric rise, so does the volume of related magazines (once again, magazines echo popular culture!), an interesting and inexpensive collecting area, and one with ever-expanding variety.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A new e-book: Radio and Television Magazines

Being a ham radio operator from childhood and having my childhood in the fifties, radio and television magazines have been an area of special interest. I've been fortunate to find some pretty rare birds over the years and have put them together into this little e-book. This information will not be found elsewhere- not to mention the images.

All issues of the national TV Guide (April 3, 1953 and forward) are all readily available through the internet. Earlier "pre-national" issues appear less regularly and the very early ones (1946-48) are very rare. Heigh-ho Silver!

Complete Radio and Television

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One that got away- the rarest Groucho Marx music sheet

Aside from collecting magazines, I've been collecting sheet music, lobby cards and other memorabilia related to the Marx Brothers for many years. One of my prize possessions is a photo that Groucho autographed for me shortly before his death.

Over the years, I have obtained virtually every piece of sheet music that the brothers, both individually and collectively appeared on- sans one- a very rare sheet of a sing entitled Mary Moore, featuring the 14 year old vaudelillian Julius Marx. About twenty years ago, I learned of its existence and obtained an image from the man in Ohio who owned it.

I didn't think I'd get the opportunity to acquire one until last week when it showed up for sale on one of my eBay searches. Since it's the "last piece of the puzzle" for this collection I was prepared to go to the mat to get it (as I said, buy the best and you'll never be sorry).
All week, two bidders had been driving the price up to the point where it reached $1525, an exorbitant but manageable amount. I figured I could snipe it at the last second for a little more and entered a bid on Bidnapper.com for a little over $2800, which I thought would do the job.

Well, the auction ended tonight. The previous high bidder had entered a top bid of $5800 but, to his surprise and mine, even that wasn't enough! The item sold for $5900, what must be a record for a piece of 20th Century sheet music.

Hopefully when the word spreads in the Marx community, another one or two might surface. Until then, I'll have to be content with a high-quality reproduction. Thank goodness it wasn't one one my magazine holy grails that I lost- now that would have really hurt!
Since this is a magazine blog, here's a couple of my favorite Marx covers.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Identify an unknown magazine and win $100. An unknown work of Elizabeth Barrett Browning?

I've had this magazine for over 20 years. It lacks its original wrappers and consists of sixty-eight pages without illustration. At the time I did considerable research on it and was unable to determine where it was published or whether any other copies existed. It is not in Union List of Serials, nor any other reference I can find and is seven years too late for inclusion in the marvelous reference by Jayne K. Kribbs.

The only clue to the site of publication is contained in the initial essay that refers to publishing a magazine in the South-West, which, for July 1857, would mean St. Louis or the like. It is extremely well-written and contains essays, fiction, poetry and reviews as good as any major literary magazine of the time.
As an extra added attraction, there is a lengthy (just over six-page) essay by Elizabeth Barrett Browning entitled "Madame Luce and Her School". I have found no reference to this on any Browing website, nor does it appear on a Google search (though Madame Luce herself does).
Other literature includes "Hilda Fordyne, A Minister's Niece" by the well-regarded Bessie Rayner Parkes (who, rather curiously, also wrote an article on Madame Luce elsewhere). Another piece (unattributed) is entitled "The Myrtle Mystery. An Episode of My Life in Scotland."

So, I as I wrote above, I will happily pay $100 to anyone who can provide the name of the editor, location of publication and, obviously, the existence of another copy. (For those in the academic world, I will send the money to any institution or library as well).

While I won't pay extra, I am also intensely curious as to whether this work by the eminent Ms. Browning is now known to exist. My guess is that it is, but it would be really interesting if this is indeed a new discovery.

Good Hunting! Ain't old magazines great?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My favorite e-book. American Literary Magazines

This is my e-book on American literary magazines, written 4 years ago. It is a highly illustrated overview of this important subject, using dozens of rare and often unique images from by collection. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it! It contains a discussion of all the great American literary periodical personalities from Charles Brockden Brown to Ernest Hemingway and all the important genres including Chapbooks, Little Magazines, Dime Novels and Pulps. This and the two previous e-books I've posted are also clickable on the upper right side of the home page of this blog.

Periodically yours,

Steven Lomazow, M.D.
American Literature in Magazines 1790's - 1950's

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Ten Most Valuable 20th Century Magazines

I notice a lot of people searching this question so I thought I'd answer it. It's not quite do easy:

1) this one is undisputed- The first appearance of Tarzan in All Story for October 1912. It consistently sells for around $20,000 in decent condition. There's a lot of interest in Burroughs and this is the prime cut. I bought mine at the California about ten years ago.
2-4) Pulps- This genre continues to uniquely bring high prices for rare and good condition issues. I could probably list a dozen that sell for over $3000 but I'll be specific about a few. Weird Tales Number 1- as I said, there are many, many pulps that routinely sell for over a few thousand dollars but this one usually brings the most money. There are two versions, both considered the first- I suspect the one with the incorrect colors on the face was the first printing. Value around $8000. Other biggies: Doc Savage number 1- $5000- Thrill Book number 1- $4000- Shadow (american version) number 1 $5000. Saucy Romantic Adventures number 1 (first appearance of the Domino lady)- $5000

5) First appearance of Ernest Hemingway in his high school magazine- Tabula, February 1916. I've only seen one copy- I bought it ten years ago from Peter Howard of Serendity Books in Berkeley Califoria. current value $8000.
6) Camera Work- Issues of this highly sought magazine edited by Alfred Stieglitz all bring many thousands of dollars, depending upon the amount of original gravures contained. The first issue was selling a few years ago for $5000. There are quite a few issues of this caliber.

7) Look Magazine number one- see the recent blog post- a legendary rarity- $5000

8) Playboy (1953) number 1- This is a great example of the economic law of supply and demand. Despite the fact that it is not at all rare, nice copies consistently sell for $3000 or more on eBay.

9) New York TV (pre-national) Guide number 1- There may not be a copy in existence- there is a reproduction issued by TV Guide Specialties of Macomb, Illinois but I am told the original has been destroyed or lost. If one surfaced, it would sell for at least $3000, if not more.

10) The first appearance of Ulysses in Little Review- 1916-1917. I lumped these together because its one of my favorites. The issues are extremely fragile and 14 of the 18 parts were serialized before it was banned by the Society for the Suppression of Vice. A nice set should bring around $5000. There are many important and expensive ($2000-3000) literary first appearances in 20th Century magazines- Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hammett are among the most valuable.

and I'll put in one sleeper:

The first appearance of Madonna on the cover of Island Magazine, October 1983. This local magazine is quite rare and extremely sought after. It brings over $1000 on eBay on the rare occasions it appears. Madonna has a very solid following and her appearances are highly collected, only exceeded in popularity as a female icon by Marilyn Monroe. This one could sell for many thousands in the future- great demand- very limited supply. I got my copy two years ago while with my daughter when we were going to a movie and dinner for father's day in Manhattan. I spotted it for sale by an unsuspecting street vendor-price- $12. Sometimes you just get lucky!

Friday, January 16, 2009

African-American Magazines: John. H. Johnson

On Martin Luther King's Birthday (he would only have been 80, but not for the senseless tragedy of 1968) this entry seems quite appropriate:

The Johnson publishing began with Negro Digest in 1942. I recently bought a run of the first three years of this exceedingly important periodical on Bookfinder.com a great search site and refernece source. In 1945, the very successful Ebony was started and joined by the digest-sized Jet in 1951 became the core of an empire that is still going strong today.

There were many offshoots and imitators- every one is scarce and many are quite rare, I've made a point of collecting this genre of magazines and have been fortunate to acquire quite a few. Here are some (but by no means all) of my favorites, including one featuring the lately departed Eartha Kitt. I can almost guarantee you will find this assemblage nowhere else. The next to last two images show how the progress in civil rights was reflected in the image of the African-American woman! (as ever, a great example of how the study of magazines provides unique insights into American popular culture.

and lastly, a very rare cover featuring the great Paul Robeson. Had he been living today, his talents would be much more widely appreciated.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A New Acquisition: Yankee Humor- and a pot-pourri of twentieth century humor magazines

If you know what you're looking at, it's still quite possible to get a nice item for very little money. I just bought this on eBay for 22 dollars plus postage. I'm really quite excited to have it.

I'd never laid eyes on a copy of Yankee Humor before and was prepared to pay a lot more for it. It is quite rare, not being in the Union List of Serials (an essential reference for the periodical collector). It is listed in David Sloane's exceedingly well-researched book on American humor magazines, part of a great series on periodicals published by Greenwood Press.

The last issue was probably Volume 2, Number 1 (May 1928). It was published by Consolidated Features in New York City and has thirty-six pages of humorous stories and cartoons. and is 8 x 11 (quarto) in size.
Aside from its rarity, it has quite a bit else going for it- a movie theme and a rare and great image of the phenomenally popular Charles Chaplin.

I contributed some magazines to a show at MOMA about 15 years ago entitled "Fame After Photography" and the Chaplin issues of Film Fun were among the most popular items in the whole show. By the way these rare images represent the first and second issue of that title- an amalgamation of three previous titles published by Leslie/Judge. It lasted into the thirties when it evolved into a "girlie" magazine. Not a bad run at the time.

I've also included images of a few of the dozens of first issue humor magazines I have from this era. Great illustration and a great reflection of the popular culture of the time. If you want to know very rapidly about what people in a society care about at any given point in time, you'll get a very good sense of it if you just head for a newsstand and check out the magazine covers!