Mar 8, 2024

The Goodbye Letter: Compute!'s Gazette 1995

Gazette masthead, recreated by David Henderson

 While falling down the rabbit hole that is nostalgia-induced Internet diving, I came across an archive of every issue of COMPUTE!'s Gazette ever published. I read through the very first issue. It brought back a flood of memories from my childhood - the ads, the "new" technology, the type-in programs. 

I skimmed through a few other issues before jumping down to the FINAL issue ever produced. The magazine ran from 1983 through 1995. The last set of issues were fully disk-based. And on that lest Gazette disk, I found a heartfelt letter that announced the end of the magazine's publication.

I am posting it here for your perusal and for posterity. 
 Gazette, February 1995

64/128 VIEW: Time to Say Goodbye
By Tom Netsel
In July of 1983, a new magazine devoted to the Commodore VIC--20 and the Commodore 64 hit the newsstands. Founded by Robert Lock and edited by Thomas Half hill, that magazine was called COMPUTE!’s Gazette. After almost 12 years, numerous editors, and several changes in format, Gazette ceases publication with this issue. This is the last Gazette. 

When Gazette started, Commodore was selling more than 100,000 VIC-20s and 64s each month. Dozens of software suppliers were rushing products to this rapidly growing market. The initial press run for Gazette was 175,000 copies, up from an originally planned 75,000. And all this was at a time before the 64 itself really took off to become the most popular home computer ever built, selling more than 14 million worldwide.

If you look back at that first issue, you'll notice that Fred D'Ignazio had a column that was called "Computing for Kids." Jim Butterfield’s name appeared on the masthead as an associate editor. You'll find their final columns in this issue.

Larry Cotton is another long time contributor. His "Beginner BASIC" column has been a regular feature for many years.

A few years ago, I was looking for someone to write a GEOS column. It had been an on and off feature in Gazette, but readership surveys told me that there was considerable interest in this operating system from Berkeley Softworks. I went searching for someone to write a monthly column. I'll have to thank Robert Nellist for recommending Steve Vander Ark for the job. Robert and Steve had been corresponding for some time about GEOS, and he suggested I get in touch with Steve. I did and Steve agreed to supply Gazette with a column each month.

Sometime later, I wanted a column to pay tribute to the great work being done by programmers who offered their work as public domain. Steve volunteered to do it and added "PD Picks" to his busy schedule. It was about that time that Robert wrote me a letter complaining in a good natured fashion that while Gazette had gained a columnist in Steve, Robert had lost a pen pal.

The junior member of the Gazette columnists is David Pankhursto The author of fantastic spreadsheets, Calc and Calc II, David took over the reins of "Programmer's Page" a little more than a year ago. Each month he has supplied a number of good programming tips from his own library and from those submitted by our readers.

I'd like to thank all these gentlemen for their great contributions to Gazette, without their help, this magazine couldn't have lasted a fraction of the time it did.

Last, but by no means least, I want to thank all of you readers who have submitted programs to Gazette over the years. My biggest regret is that I still have so many good programs here that I'll never be able to publish. My budget allowed me to buy only so many each month and I still have almost 30 submissions still in my Pending basket. Gazette had a number of staff programmers in its early days, but it has been our readers who have supplied the bulk of the programs that we've published over the years. To all of you who have submitted a program, I offer you my thanks. Without your submissions, this magazine would have folded years ago.

Gazette's closing follows shortly on the heels of COMPUTE's demise, but it is for totally different reasons. COMPUTE was bought and closed because a competitor didn't want the competition and was hoping to convert those subscribers to its publications. Gazette is closing simply because there aren't enough Commodore enthusiasts subscribing to make Gazette profitable.

So what's going to happen to your subscriptions? You'll have one of three options, but as I write this the week before Christmas, I don't know all the details as yet„ We are talking with other publishing companies that may have an interest in taking on our outstanding subscriber liability. If one of these companies takes over, then you will be offered a Commodore-related publication equal in value to the number of Gazette issues yet unmailed.

The other option is that you may elect to take the remainder of your subscription out in Gazette disk products. The specialty disks that we offer, such as SpeedScript and the GEOS Collection, are examples.

The final option is to simply request a refund of the remainder of your subscription. Each unmailed issue is worth approximately $2.50. 

As I said, negotiations have just started and I don't know what the outcome will be. You will be contacted shortly with an explanation of your options. I'm sure some of you will be getting letters asking you to renew your Gazette subscriptions. These mailings are scheduled months in advance and some undoubtedly will be mailed out after I write this. Please ignore them.

Normally, publications close and readers learn about it after the fact. With Gazette being on dii»k and having a short production time, I was able to convince the powers that be to give me this final issue in order to say good. bye. As I said, I don't yet have all the answers but I was at least able to offer some word of explanation as to why you won't be getting any more Gazette's after this one.

COMPUTE Publications will still be around, but involved with online publishing. COMPUTE Online has been on America Online for 18 months and it will continue, but with a new name. Starting in February, it will be called I-Wire. It will also be on the Internet with a world wide web home page. I have been the online editor during this time and I will continue with my duties there and as editor of Saturday Review Online.

Once again, thank you for your support over the years. Keep those 64s and 128s humming. It's been a pleasure. 
Gazette, February 1995