Ben Poehland, Managing Editor
I love this time of year. It's late September here in Pennsylvania, and the first cool breezes that blow away the "dog days" of summer bring with them a hint of excitement, a promise of something to look forward to. School classes are starting up again, and even though I'm long out of school there still remains a biological vestige of that sense of anticipation I felt at the beginning of each Fall Semester. All the most memorable and exciting things seemed to happen to me at this time of year.
Now it's Autumn 1992, and the old excitement is gripping me again. It's called Atari Classics. And judging by the interest 8-bitters are expressing in this novel enterprise, AC promises to be the success story Atari Corporation would rather not hear about.
We 8-bitters are now a disenfranchised community, having been disowned by Atari Corporation with their announcement of discontinued support for all 8-bit products at the beginning of this year. The withdrawal of ICD from our market at the same time was another heavy blow. The demise of ANTIC in 1991 robbed us of a central focus for our market and a common forum for expression of opinions and exchange of information. Our market was disintegrating, and no one seemed to know what to do about it.
As early as August 1991, in private conversations with Steve Hoffee (now our Disk Editor), I had broached the subject of a user-based 8-bit magazine to replace ANTIC; Steve was all for it. But alas, I can't claim official credit for the phenomenon that came to be called "The Atari Classics Movement". That honor must go to our "Moonlight Workshop" columnist, Jeff McWilliams.
In the best traditions of a free society, discussions about the future of our community were raging on Internet's Info-Atari8 Digest in the late autumn of 1991. Amidst the furor, this Jeff fellow appeared and blurted into the Digest ideas about an 8-bit magazine that seemed to have been extracted directly from my own brain. He further proposed the now-infamous Mail Campaign.
I immediately jumped in with an offer of logistical support, refining the idea with the use of pre-printed return postcards. Thereby was born the user-based movement that lead to the magazine you now hold in your hands. And for me personally, it was also the beginning of a unique friendship with Jeff, whose thoughts are so eerily close to my own that at times we almost seem to communicate telepathically. (If we ever figure out how to control this telepathy stuff, the phone companies are in trouble big time.)
The goal of the Campaign was to collect 500 written pledges for an all 8-bit magazine. Through the Winter and Spring of 1992 the Campaign rolled on. It was a much bigger job than any of us anticipated.
We formed a Committee, which by the time the Campaign ended in May had increased to six people scattered around the world. (The Committee's first international representative was Mike Jewison, now our "Fitting Room" columnist.) And we were successful. Including all the stragglers, the Campaign received 615 positive responses.
It devolved upon me in late May to lay plans for the magazine. I thought I would knock it out in 3 or 4 days. It took four weeks. Plans in hand, I figured we could land a publisher in a week. It took a month. Atari Classics was officially born on August 5, 1992. The same day I returned home from the hospital following some nasty sinus surgery.
Copy deadline for our Premier Issue was set for September 19. That gave me six weeks to assemble a Staff, make a zillion arrangements, and collect all the copy to fill the pages of this magazine. Chaos, pandemonium, utter madness. Mornings when I went to work so tired I forgot to shave (I work a full-time job as a research chemist).
But it's working. We are on track. The aspirations, hopes, dreams, and wishes of a great many people who expended their sweat and treasure over the past year are about to be realized. I'm barely able to contain my excitement as I compose this editorial on my trusty 800XL.
As I said, somehow these things always seem to happen in the Fall, about the time those first cool breezes put a nip in the air that quickens your step. I wish I could bottle this stuff and sell it; my fortune would be assured!
Now It's Your Turn.
If the concept of Atari Classics is not to be stillborn with our first issue, we'll need 500 paid subscribers before the end of 1992. Our Premier Issue is being distributed for free, but it will really only be free to those who don't subscribe. For you who believe as we do-that "Atari 8-bits never say die" this magazine will become Issue #1 of your paid subscription.
You'll find the Subscription Form on the last page: send it in now. Energize your 8 -bit!
Plug into AC! Atari Classics, that is.