Byte (magazine)

Byte (stylized as BYTE) was an American microcomputer magazine, influential in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s because of its wide-ranging editorial coverage.[1] Whereas many magazines were dedicated to specific systems or the home or business users' perspective, Byte covered developments in the entire field of "small computers and software," and sometimes other computing fields such as supercomputers and high-reliability computing. Coverage was in-depth with much technical detail, rather than user-oriented.

Byte started in 1975, shortly after the first personal computers appeared as kits advertised in the back of electronics magazines. Byte was published monthly, with an initial yearly subscription price of $10. Print publication ceased in 1998 and online publication in 2013.

BYTE logo
Byte Front Cover December 1975
Vol 1. No. 4, December 1975
CategoriesComputer magazines
PublisherUBM Technology Group
First issueSeptember 1975
Final issueJuly 1998
CountryUnited States
Based inPeterborough, New Hampshire


In 1975 Wayne Green was the editor and publisher of 73 (an amateur radio magazine) and his ex-wife, Virginia Londner Green was the Business Manager of 73 Inc.[2] In the August 1975 issue of 73 magazine Wayne's editorial column started with this item:

The response to computer-type articles in 73 has been so enthusiastic that we here in Peterborough got carried away. On May 25th we made a deal with the publisher of a small (400 circulation) computer hobby magazine to take over as editor of a new publication which would start in August ... Byte.[3]

Carl Helmers published a series of six articles in 1974 that detailed the design and construction of his "Experimenter's Computer System", a personal computer based on the Intel 8008 microprocessor. In January 1975 this became the monthly ECS magazine with 400 subscribers. The last issue was published on May 12, 1975 and in June the subscribers were mailed a notice announcing Byte magazine. Carl wrote to another hobbyist newsletter, Micro-8 Computer User Group Newsletter, and described his new job as editor of Byte magazine.

I got a note in the mail about two weeks ago from Wayne Green, publisher of '73 Magazine' essentially saying hello and why don't you come up and talk a bit. The net result of a follow up is the decision to create BYTE magazine using the facilities of Green Publishing Inc. I will end up with the editorial focus for the magazine; with the business end being managed by Green Publishing.[4]

Virginia Londner Green had returned to 73 in the December 1974 issue and incorporated Green Publishing in March 1975.[5] The first five issues of Byte were published by Green Publishing and the name was changed to Byte Publications starting with the February 1976 issue.[6] Carl Helmers was a co-owner of Byte Publications.[7]

The first four issues were produced in the offices of 73 and Wayne Green was listed as the publisher. One day in November 1975 Wayne came to work and found that the Byte magazine staff had moved out and taken the January issue with them.[8] The February 1976 issue of Byte has a short story about the move. "After a start which reads like a romantic light opera with an episode or two reminiscent of the Keystone Cops, Byte magazine finally has moved into separate offices of its own."

Wayne Green was not happy about losing Byte magazine so he was going to start a new one called Kilobyte.[9] Byte quickly trademarked KILOBYTE as a cartoon series in Byte magazine. The new magazine was called Kilobaud. There was competition and animosity between Byte Publications and 73 Inc. but both remained in the small town of Peterborough, New Hampshire.

The early years

Articles in the first issue (September, 1975) included Which Microprocessor For You? by Hal Chamberlin, Write Your Own Assembler by Dan Fylstra and Serial Interface by Don Lancaster. Advertisements from Godbout, MITS, Processor Technology, SCELBI, and Sphere appear, among others.

Early articles in Byte were do-it-yourself electronic or software projects to improve small computers. A continuing feature was Ciarcia's Circuit Cellar, a column in which electronic engineer Steve Ciarcia described small projects to modify or attach to a computer (later spun off to become the magazine Circuit Cellar, focusing on embedded computer applications). Significant articles in this period included the "Kansas City" standard for data storage on audio tape, insertion of disk drives into S-100 computers, publication of source code for various computer languages (Tiny C, BASIC, assemblers), and coverage of the first microcomputer operating system, CP/M. Byte ran Microsoft's first advertisement, as "Micro-Soft", to sell a BASIC interpreter for 8080-based computers.

Growth and change

In spring of 1979, owner/publisher Virginia Williamson sold Byte to McGraw-Hill. She remained publisher until 1983 and became a vice president of McGraw-Hill Publications Company. Shortly after the IBM PC was introduced, in 1981, the magazine changed editorial policies. It gradually de-emphasized the do-it-yourself electronics and software articles, and began running product reviews. It continued its wide-ranging coverage of hardware and software, but now it reported "what it does" and "how it works", not "how to do it". The editorial focus remained on home and personal computers).

By the early 1980s Byte had become an "elite" magazine, seen as a peer of Rolling Stone and Playboy, and others such as David Bunnell of PC Magazine aspired to emulate its reputation and success.[10] It was the only computer publication on the 1981 Folio 400 list of largest magazines. Byte's 1982 average number of pages was 543, and the number of paid advertising pages grew by more than 1,000 while most magazines' amount of advertising did not change. Its circulation of 420,000 was the third highest of all computer magazines.[11] Byte earned $9 million from revenue of $36.6 million in 1983, twice the average profit margin for the magazine industry. It remained successful while many other magazines failed in 1984 during economic weakness in the computer industry. The October 1984 issue had about 300 pages of ads sold at an average of $6,000 per page.[12]

From 1975 to 1986 Byte covers usually featured the artwork of Robert Tinney. These covers made Byte visually unique. In 1987 Tinney's paintings were replaced by product photographs, and Steve Ciarcia's "Circuit Cellar" column was discontinued.

Around 1985 Byte started an online service called BIX (Byte Information eXchange) which was a text-only BBS style site running on the CoSy conferencing software, also used by McGraw-Hill internally. Access was via local dial-in or, for additional hourly charges, the Tymnet X.25 network. Monthly rates were $13/month for the account and $1/hour for X.25 access. Unlike CompuServe, access at higher speeds was not surcharged. Later, gateways permitted email communication outside the system.

By 1990 the magazine was about half an inch in thickness and had a subscription price of $56/year. Around 1993 Byte began to develop a web presence. It acquired the domain name and began to host discussion boards and post selected editorial content.

Editions were published in Japan, Brazil, Germany, and an Arabic edition published in Jordan.

End of the printed magazine, and online publication

The readership of Byte and advertising revenue were declining when McGraw-Hill sold the magazine to CMP Media, a successful publisher of specialized computer magazines in May 1998.[13] The magazine's editors and writers expected its new owner to revitalize Byte but CMP ceased publication with the July 1998 issue, laid off all the staff and shut down Byte's rather large product-testing lab.[14][15]

Publication of Byte in Germany and Japan continued uninterrupted. The Turkish edition resumed publication after a few years of interruption. The Arabic edition also ended abruptly.[16]

Many of Byte's columnists migrated their writing to personal web sites. One was science fiction author Jerry Pournelle's weblog The View From Chaos Manor[17] derived from a long-standing column in Byte, describing computers from a power user's point of view. After the closure of Byte magazine, Pournelle's column continued to be published in the Turkish editions of PC World, which was soon renamed as PC Life in Turkey. Byte Japan, with the name licensed from McGraw Hill, was the leading computer magazine in Japan, Published by Nippon Business Publications. It continued Pournelle's column in translation as a major feature for years after Byte closed in the U.S.

In 1999 CMP revived Byte as a web-only publication, from 2002 accessible by subscription. It closed in 2009.[16]

UBM TechWeb brought the Byte name back when it officially relaunched Byte as on 11 July 2011. According to the site, the mission of the new Byte was:

" examine technology in the context of the consumerization of IT. The subject relates closely to important IT issues like security and manageability. It's an issue that reaches both IT and users, and it's an issue where both groups need to listen carefully to the requirements of the other: IT may wish to hold off on allowing devices and software onto the network when they haven't been properly tested and can't be properly supported. But the use of these devices in the enterprise has the air of inevitability for a good reason. They make users more productive and users are demanding them."[18]

The launch editor-in-chief was tech journalist Gina Smith. On September 26, 2011 Smith was replaced by Larry Seltzer. In January 2012 American science fiction and horror author F. Paul Wilson began writing for, mostly in the persona of his best-known character Repairman Jack.[18] closed in 2013. redirects to the website of InformationWeek, a sister technology magazine also published by UBM TechWeb.


  1. ^ Valery, Nicholas (May 19, 1977). "Spare a byte for the family". New Scientist. Vol. 74 no. 1052. London: Reed Business Information. pp. 405–406. ISSN 0262-4079. "Byte magazine, the leading publication serving the homebrew market ..."
  2. ^ Green, Wayne (December 1974). "73 Staff". 73 Amateur Radio (179): 4. Virginia Londner Green was listed as Business Manager.
  3. ^ Green, Wayne (August 1975). "Never Say Die". 73 Amateur Radio (179): 2.
  4. ^ Singer, Hal; John Craig (June 27, 1975). "News". Micro-8 Computer User Group Newsletter. Lompoc, CA: Cabrillo Computer Center. 1 (8): 1. File:Micro-8 June 27 1975.png
  5. ^ "Business Name History". BYTE Publications and Green Publishing. New Hampshire Corporate Division. December 27, 1996. Archived from the original on 2013-09-28. Retrieved March 10, 2013. Green Publishing, Inc. was incorporated on March 7, 1975.
  6. ^ Copyright catalogs at the Library of Congress for Byte magazine.
  7. ^ "Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation". Byte. Peterborough, NH: Byte Publications. 2 (12): 184. December 1977. Virginia Peschke and Carl Helmers are the owners of Byte Publications.
  8. ^ Carlson, Walter (January 1985). "Green: a shade ahead of the market - Wayne Green". Folio: The Magazine for Magazine Management. Green relates that when he arrived at the office one day in November 1975, when the fifth issue was in the works, he found that everything had been moved out--the shoeboxes, the back issues, the articles and the bank account--by his general manager, who also happened to be his first wife, from whom he was divorced in 1965.
  9. ^ "All About kilobyte". 73 Amateur Radio (194): 118–119. December 1976. Two page ad describing the new KILOBYTE magazine.
  10. ^ Bunnell, David (February–March 1982). "Flying Upside Down". PC Magazine. p. 10. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  11. ^ "Boom in Computer Magazines". The New York Times. 1983-11-09. Retrieved 2011-02-25.
  12. ^ Berg, Eric N. (1984-09-08). "The Computer Magazine Glut". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-03.
  13. ^ "CMP Media Inc. History". Funding Universe. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
  14. ^ "McGraw-Hill to Sell Information Group to CMP Media". The New York Times. Reuters. May 6, 1998. p. D.3. The McGraw-Hill Companies agreed yesterday to sell its Information Technology and Communications Group, which includes Byte and other computer magazines, to CMP Media Inc. for $28.6 million.
  15. ^ Napoli, Lisa (June 1, 1998). "New Owners of Byte Suspend Publication". The New York Times. p. D.4. Byte's circulation has fallen to a recent average of 442,553 from 522,795 in 1996. Advertising has also fallen. In January, for example, Byte published only 61.5 ad pages, less than half the number of pages the magazine had in 1996.
  16. ^ a b Tom's Unofficial Byte FAQ:The Death of Byte Magazine, by former Byte journalist Tom R. Halfhill, on his personal website
  17. ^ "The View From Chaos Manor". Jerry Pournelle. June 25, 2011. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  18. ^ a b "Byte: Consumer Technology in Business". Informationweek. Retrieved June 8, 2014.

Further reading

  • Ranade, Jay; Nash, Alan (1994). The best of Byte. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 641. ISBN 0-07-051344-9.

External links

Apple I

Apple Computer 1, also known later as the Apple I, or Apple-1, is a desktop computer released by the Apple Computer Company (now Apple Inc.) in 1976. It was designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak. Wozniak's friend Steve Jobs had the idea of selling the computer. The Apple I was Apple's first product, and to finance its creation, Jobs sold his only motorized means of transportation, a VW Microbus, for a few hundred dollars, and Steve Wozniak sold his HP-65 calculator for $500; however, Wozniak said that Jobs planned to use his bicycle if necessary. It was demonstrated in July 1976 at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, California.Production was discontinued on September 30, 1977, after the June 10, 1977 introduction of its successor, the Apple II, which Byte magazine referred to as part of the "1977 Trinity" of personal computing (along with the PET 2001 and the TRS-80).

Apple II

The Apple II (stylized as apple ][) is an 8-bit home computer and one of the world's first highly successful mass-produced microcomputer products, designed primarily by Steve Wozniak (Steve Jobs oversaw the development of the Apple II's foam-molded plastic case and Rod Holt developed the switching power supply). It was introduced by Jobs and Wozniak at the 1977 West Coast Computer Faire and was the first consumer product sold by Apple Computer, Inc. It is the first model in a series of computers which were produced until Apple IIe production ceased in November 1993. The Apple II marks Apple's first launch of a personal computer aimed at a consumer market – branded towards American households rather than businessmen or computer hobbyists.Byte magazine referred to the Apple II, Commodore PET 2001 and the TRS-80 as the "1977 Trinity."

The Apple II had the defining feature of being able to display color graphics, and this capability was the reason why the Apple logo was redesigned to have a spectrum of colors.

Byte (disambiguation)

A byte is a unit of digital information in computing and telecommunications that most commonly consists of eight bits.

Byte may also refer to:

Byte (magazine), a computer industry magazine

Byte (song), a song by Martin Garrix and Brooks

Bytes (album), an album by Black Dog Productions

Byte (retailer), a computer retailer in the United Kingdom

Byte (dinghy), a sailing dinghy

Byte, a naming series for electric cars from Byton


For the Canadian radio station, see CBBS-FM.

CBBS (Computerized Bulletin Board System) was a computer program created by Ward Christensen to allow him and other computer hobbyists to exchange information between each another.In January 1978, Chicago was hit by the Great Blizzard of 1978, which dumped record amounts of snow throughout the midwest. Among those caught in the storm were Christensen and Randy Suess, who were members of CACHE, the Chicago Area Computer Hobbyists' Exchange. They had met at that computer club in the mid-1970s and become friends.

Christensen had created a file transfer protocol for sending binary computer files through modem connections, which was called, simply, MODEM. Later improvements to the program motivated a name change into the now familiar XMODEM. The success of this project encouraged further experiments. Christensen and Suess became enamored of the idea of creating a computerized answering machine and message center, which would allow members to call in with their then-new modems and leave announcements for upcoming meetings.

However, they needed some quiet time to set aside for such a project, and the blizzard gave them that time. Christensen worked on the software and Suess cobbled together an S-100 computer to put the program on. They had a working version within two weeks, but claimed soon afterwards that it had taken four so that it wouldn't seem like a "rushed" project. Time and tradition have settled that date to be February 16, 1978. Christensen and Suess described their innovation in an article entitled "Hobbyist Computerized Bulletin Board" in the November 1978 issue of Byte Magazine.Because the Internet was still small and not available to most computer users, users had to dial CBBS directly using a modem. Also because the CBBS hardware and software supported only a single modem for most of its existence, users had to take turns accessing the system, each hanging up when done to let someone else have access. Despite these limitations, the system was seen as very useful, and ran for many years and inspired the creation of many other bulletin board systems.

Ward & Randy would often watch the users while they were online and comment or go into chat if the subject warranted. At times, online users wondered if Ward & Randy actually existed.

The program had many forward thinking ideas, now accepted as canonical in the creation of message bases or "forums".

As Christensen and Suess went their separate ways, the CBBS name lived on, and survives to an extent as a web-based forum on Suess' website, Christensen's version of CBBS, called "Ward's Board", closed in the early 1990s.

On February 16, 2003, Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley declared the day "BBS" day in honor of the world's first BBS being created 25 years ago that day. An article with a photo of Ward and the CBBS hardware appeared shortly thereafter in the Chicago Tribune.


CP/M-86 was a version of the CP/M operating system that Digital Research (DR) made for the Intel 8086 and Intel 8088. The system commands are the same as in CP/M-80. Executable files used the relocatable .CMD file format. Digital Research also produced a multi-user multitasking operating system compatible with CP/M-86, MP/M-86, which later evolved into Concurrent CP/M-86. When an emulator was added to provide PC DOS compatibility, the system was renamed Concurrent DOS, which later became Multiuser DOS, of which REAL/32 is the latest incarnation. The DOS Plus, FlexOS, and DR DOS families of operating systems started as derivations of Concurrent DOS as well.

CoSy (computer conferencing system)

CoSy was an early computer conferencing system developed by the University of Guelph in 1983 and 1984. CoSy was selected by Byte Magazine to launch their BIX system in 1985In addition to BIX, it was used to implement a similar British system named CIX, as well as numerous other installations such as CompuLink Network. CoSy was also chosen for The Open University's "electronic campus".Some rights to the software were later acquired by the British Columbia company SoftWords, who developed it into CoSy400 and added a simple web interface, before losing interest.

When the BIX system closed down, several former "bixen" approached University of Guelph and SoftWords and obtained the right to release the original version of CoSy under the GPL. It is now developed as an open source project, and was the basis of the BIX-like NLZero (Noise Level Zero) conferencing service.

Dan Fylstra

Dan Fylstra is a pioneer of the software products industry.

A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in 1975 he was a founding associate editor of BYTE Magazine. In 1978 he co-founded Personal Software, and that year reviewed the Commodore PET 2001 and TRS-80 Model I for BYTE while studying for an MBA at the Harvard Business School, having ordered each almost immediately after release. Personal Software became the distributor of a new program called VisiCalc, the first-ever computer spreadsheet. In his marketing efforts Fylstra ran teaser ads in Byte that asked, considering electronic spreadsheets were an entirely new product category, "How did you ever do without it?"The VisiCalc-Apple connection suggested the hypothesis of the "killer app"—or the "software tail that wags the hardware dog." Once VisiCalc caught on, people came into computer stores asking for VisiCalc and then also the computer (the Apple II) they would need to run the program. VisiCalc sales exceeded 700,000 units by 1983.Fylstra's software products company, later called VisiCorp, was the #1 personal-computer software publisher in 1981 with $20 million in revenues as well as in 1982 with $35 million (exceeding Microsoft which became the largest such firm in 1983).Fylstra is the former president of Sierra Sciences, and is currently president of software vendor Frontline Systems. In 1998 he joined the Libertarian Party.

Elephant in Cairo

An elephant in Cairo is a term used in computer programming to describe a piece of data inserted at the end of a search space, which matches the search criteria, in order to make sure the search algorithm terminates; it is a humorous example of a sentinel value. The term derives from a humorous essay circulated on the Internet that was published in Byte magazine on September 1989, describing how various professions would go about hunting elephants.

Gabe Aul

Gabriel J. "Gabe" Aul, (born August 5, 1972) is the current Corporate Vice President (CVP) of Windows & Devices Group (WDG), Engineering Systems Team at Microsoft. He was appointed as VP on 31 July 2015, following the launch of Windows 10 on 29 July 2015. He led the Windows Insider Program until June 1, 2016, where he was succeeded by Dona Sarkar.

Kansas City standard

The Kansas City standard (KCS), or Byte standard, is a way of storing digital data on standard Compact Audio Cassettes at data rates of 300 to 2400 bits per second (at 300–2400 baud) that was first defined in 1976. It was the default encoding used by several machine families, including those from Acorn and the MSX. It was also the standard used for cross-platform BASICODE distribution.

It originated in a symposium sponsored by Byte magazine in November 1975 in Kansas City, Missouri to develop a standard for storage of digital microcomputer data on inexpensive consumer quality cassettes. Although the standard existed from the earliest days of the microcomputer revolution, it failed to prevent a proliferation of alternative encodings.

Kilobaud Microcomputing

Kilobaud Microcomputing was a magazine dedicated to the computer homebrew hobbyists from 1977 to 1983.

Mc (magazine)

mc - die microcomputer-zeitschrift was a monthly German microcomputer publication for technically interested persons, a bit similar to Byte magazine, but unlike Byte it often published the circuit diagrams of various computer devices.


NBench is a synthetic computing benchmark program developed in the mid-1990s by the now defunct BYTE magazine intended to measure a computer's CPU, FPU, and Memory System speed.

Paul Schindler

Paul E. Schindler Jr. (born September 17, 1952) was the software reviewer on the popular television program Computer Chronicles from 1985 to 1999. He worked for 20 years in computer journalism at CMP Technology and Ziff-Davis, including Computer Systems News, Information Systems News, Information Week, PC Week, Byte Magazine, and Windows Magazine.A 1974 graduate of MIT, he now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a middle-school history teacher at the Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School in Moraga, California. Paul was also a contestant on Jeopardy! in 1985 as well as five other television game shows.

Pentium FDIV bug

The Pentium FDIV bug is a computer bug affecting the floating point unit (FPU) of the early Intel Pentium processors. Because of the bug, the processor might return incorrect binary floating point results when dividing a number. The bug was discovered in 1994 by Professor Thomas R. Nicely at Lynchburg College. Intel attributed the error to missing entries in the lookup table used by the floating-point division circuitry.The severity of the FDIV bug is debated. Though rarely encountered by most users (Byte magazine estimated that 1 in 9 billion floating point divides with random parameters would produce inaccurate results), both the flaw and Intel's initial handling of the matter were heavily criticized by the tech community.

In December 1994, Intel recalled the defective processors. In January 1995, Intel announced "a pre-tax charge of $475 million against earnings, ostensibly the total cost associated with replacement of the flawed processors."

Robert Tinney

Robert Frank Tinney (born November 22, 1947) is an American contemporary illustrator known for his monthly cover illustrations for the microcomputer publication Byte magazine spanning over a decade. In so doing, Tinney became one of the first artists to create a broad yet consistent artistic concept for the computing world, combining a specific artistic style with visual metaphor to showcase emerging trends in personal computing technology.

Sphere 1

The Sphere I was a personal computer completed in 1975 by Michael Donald Wise and Monroe Tyler of Sphere Corporation, of Bountiful, Utah. The Sphere I featured a Motorola 6800 CPU, onboard ROM, a big monitor, 4 KB of RAM, and a keyboard with a numeric keypad. The Sphere I was among the earliest microcomputers. Michael touted it as the first "true PC" because it had a keyboard, a number pad, a monitor, external storage, and did not run on a punch tape. When Byte Magazine did its annual history of the computer, it always included Sphere 1, showing that prior microcomputers lacked the user I/O interface built into the Sphere I.

The Sphere 1 also included a keyboard-operated reset feature consisting of two keys wired in series that sent a reset signal to the CPU triggering a hard reboot. Wise considered this to be the first keyboard activated reset -- a predecessor to the now-common Control-Alt-Delete combination.

Steve Ciarcia

Steve Ciarcia is an embedded control systems engineer. He became popular through his Ciarcia's Circuit Cellar column in BYTE magazine, and later through the Circuit Cellar magazine that he published. He is also the author of Build Your Own Z80 Computer, edited in 1981 and Take My Computer...Please!, published in 1978. He has also compiled seven volumes of his hardware project articles that appeared in BYTE magazine.

In 1982 and 1983 he published a series of articles on building the MPX-16, a 16-bit single-board computer that was hardware-compatible with the IBM PC.In December 2009, Steve Ciarcia announced that for the American market a strategic cooperation would be entered between Elektor and his Circuit Cellar magazine. In November 2012, Steve Ciarcia announced that he was quitting Circuit Cellar and Elektor would take it over.In October 2014, Ciarcia purchased Circuit Cellar, audioXpress, Voice Coil, Loudspeaker Industry Sourcebook, and their respective websites, newsletters, and products from Netherlands-based Elektor International Media. The aforementioned magazines will continue to be published by Ciarcia's US-based team.

Virginia Williamson

Virginia Williamson (also Virginia Londner Green and Virginia Peschke) was the co-founder, owner and publisher of Byte magazine. She founded the magazine in 1975 together with her ex-husband, Wayne Green the founder/publisher of the amateur radio magazine 73. She sold the magazine to McGraw-Hill in 1979, but remained publisher until 1983. She later married Gordon Williamson, who in 1988 published a book about her ex-husband Wayne Green, titled See Wayne Run. Run, Wayne, Run.

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