Datamation is a computer magazine that was published in print form in the United States between 1957 and 1998,[1][2] and has since continued publication on the web. Today, Datamation is owned by QuinStreet and is published as an online magazine at

February 1998, the final print edition of Datamation magazine

History and profile

When Datamation was first launched in 1957, it was not clear there would be a significant market for a computer magazine given how few computers there were. The idea for the magazine came from Donald Prell who was Vice President of Application Engineering at a Los Angeles computer input-output company. In 1957, the only place his company could advertise their products was in either Scientific American or Business Week. Prell had discussed the idea with John Diebold who started "Automation Data Processing Newsletter", and that was the inspiration for the name DATAMATION. Thompson Publications of Chicago agreed to publish the magazine.[3]

In 1995, after rival CMP Media Inc.'s 1994 launch of its TechWeb network of publications, Datamation worked in partnership with Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) and launched one of the first online publications, In 1996, Datamation editors Bill Semich, Michael Lasell and April Blumenstiel, received the first-ever Jesse H. Neal Editorial Achievement Award for an online publication. The Neal Award is the highest award for business journalism in the U.S.

In 1998, when its publisher, Reed Business Information, terminated print publication of Datamation 41 years after its first issue went to press,[2] the online version,, became one of the first online-only magazines. In 2001, (WebMediaBrands) acquired the still-profitable online publication. In 2009, (and were acquired by Quinstreet, Inc.

Computer humor

Traditionally, an April issue of Datamation contained a number of spoof articles and humorous stories related to computers.

However humor was not limited to April. For example, in a spoof Datamation article[4] (December 1973), R. Lawrence Clark suggested that the GOTO statement could be replaced by the COMEFROM statement, and provides some entertaining examples. This was actually implemented in the INTERCAL programming language, a language designed to make programs as obscure as possible.

Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal was a letter to the editor of Datamation, volume 29 number 7, July 1983, written by Ed Post, Tektronix, Wilsonville, Oregon, USA.[5]

Some of BOFH were reprinted in Datamation.

The humor section was resurrected in 1996 by editor in chief Bill Semich with a two-page spread titled "Over the Edge" with material contributed by Annals of Improbable Research editor Marc Abrahams and MISinformation editor Chris Miksanek. Semich also commissioned BOFH author Simon Travaglia to write humor columns for the magazine. Later that year, Miksanek became the sole humor contributor (though in 1998 "Over the Edge" was augmented with an online weblinks companion by Miksanek's alter-ego "The Duke of URL"). The column was dropped from the magazine in 2001 when it was acquired by

A collection of "Over the Edge" columns was published in 2008 under the title "Esc: 400 Years of Computer Humor" (ISBN 1434892484).


  1. ^ Roy A. Allan A History of the Personal Computer: The People and the Technology, 2001, ISBN 0-9689108-0-7. page 1/14 "A popular data processing magazine called Datamation started in October 1957 as Research and Engineering (The Magazine of Datamation)."
  2. ^ a b Venerable IS Journal Shuts Down, Sharon Machlis // ComputerWorld, page 15, 19 January 1998
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^

External links


AirMosaic was an early commercial web browser based on the NCSA Mosaic browser.The browser won Datamation's Best Product of the Year award for 1994.The AirMosaic browser was available as part of several packages: the AIR Series, Internet in a Box and Mosaic In A Box, and separately. AirMosaic for Windows could also be downloaded as a demo, and then purchased over the Internet as a separate product.

Al Eisenstat

Al Eisenstat (born 1930) was an American lawyer and business executive. He served as general counsel, Senior Vice President and board member at Apple Computer.

Bastard Operator From Hell

The Bastard Operator From Hell (BOFH) is a fictional rogue computer operator who takes out his anger on users and others who pester him with their computer problems, uses his expertise against his enemies and manipulates his employer.Several other people have written stories about BOFHs, but those by Simon Travaglia are considered canonical.

The BOFH stories were originally posted in 1992 to Usenet by Travaglia, with some being reprinted in Datamation. They were published weekly from 1995 to 1999 in Network Week. Since 2000 they have been published regularly in The Register (UK). Several collections of the stories have been published as books.

By extension, the term is also used to refer to any system administrator who displays the qualities of the original.The early accounts of the BOFH took place in a university; later the scenes were set in an office workplace. In 2000 (BOFH 2k), the BOFH and his pimply-faced youth (PFY) assistant moved to a new company.

Bruce Byfield

Bruce Byfield (born May 13, 1958) is a Canadian writer who specializes in free and open source software. He has been a contributing editor at, and his articles have appeared on the Datamation, LWN, Linux Developer Network, Linux Pro Magazine, and Open Content and Software sites. In addition to his online publications, he has published in such magazines as Drupal Watchdog, Maximum Linux, Raspberry Pi Geek, Ubuntu User, and The New Internationalist, and writes one column about the command line and another about open hardware for Linux Pro Magazine. His personal blog, Off the Wall, is a collection of short personal essays. Since becoming a full-time writer, he has sold over 1800 articles.

In March 2016, his book "Designing with LibreOffice" ( was published by Friends of Open Document under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. In its first two months, the book received over 14,000 downloads.

Before becoming a journalist, Byfield was marketing and communications director at Progeny Linux Systems, and product manager at Stormix Technologies, and a freelance technical writer, graphic designer, and creator of elearning courses.

Byfield lives in Burnaby, British Columbia. In addition to free and open source software, his interests include parrots, regular exercise, science fiction, collecting Northwest Coast Art and listening to punk-folk music. He is the co-founder of the Mature Student Award at the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art at Northwest Community College,[1] along with his late partner, Patricia Louise Williams.


In computer programming, COMEFROM (or COME FROM) is an obscure control flow structure used in some programming languages, originally as a joke. COMEFROM is roughly the opposite of GOTO in that it can take the execution state from any arbitrary point in code to a COMEFROM statement.

The point in code where the state transfer happens is usually given as a parameter to COMEFROM. Whether the transfer happens before or after the instruction at the specified transfer point depends on the language used. Depending on the language used, multiple COMEFROMs referencing the same departure point may be invalid, be non-deterministic, be executed in some sort of defined priority, or even induce parallel or otherwise concurrent execution as seen in Threaded Intercal.

A simple example of a "COMEFROM x" statement is a label x (which does not need to be physically located anywhere near its corresponding COMEFROM) that acts as a "trap door". When code execution reaches the label, control gets passed to the statement following the COMEFROM. This may also be conditional, passing control only if a condition is satisfied, analogous to a GOTO within an IF statement. The primary difference from GOTO is that GOTO only depends on the local structure of the code, while COMEFROM depends on the global structure – a GOTO transfers control when it reaches a line with a GOTO statement, while COMEFROM requires scanning the entire program or scope to see if any COMEFROM statements are in scope for the line, and then verifying if a condition is hit. The effect of this is primarily to make debugging (and understanding the control flow of the program) extremely difficult, since there is no indication near the line or label in question that control will mysteriously jump to another point of the program – one must study the entire program to see if any COMEFROM statements reference that line or label.

Debugger hooks can be used to implement a COMEFROM statement, as in the humorous Python goto module; see below. This also can be implemented with the gcc feature "asm goto" as used by the Linux kernel configuration option CONFIG_JUMP_LABEL. A no-op has its location stored, to be replaced by a jump to an executable fragment that at its end returns to the instruction after the no-op.

Dark data

Dark data is data which is acquired through various computer network operations but not used in any manner to derive insights or for decision making. The ability of an organisation to collect data can exceed the throughput at which it can analyse the data. In some cases the organisation may not even be aware that the data is being collected. IBM estimate that roughly 90 percent of data generated by sensors and analog-to-digital conversions never get used.In an industrial context, dark data can include information gathered by sensors and telematics.Organizations retain dark data for a multitude of reasons, and it is estimated that most companies are only analyzing 1% of their data. Often it is stored for regulatory compliance and record keeping. Some organizations believe that dark data could be useful to them in the future, once they have acquired better analytic and business intelligence technology to process the information. Because storage is inexpensive, storing data is easy. However, storing and securing the data usually entails greater expenses (or even risk) than the potential return profit.


Digitek was an early system software company located in Los Angeles, California.

Digitek, co-founded in the early 1960s by three equal partners (James R. Dunlap, President plus Vice Presidents Donald Ryan and Donald Peckham who had worked together at Hughes Aircraft Company, in Culver City, California ), authored many of the programming language systems (compiler + runtime + intrinsic library) on various manufacturers' computer systems, including IBM, SDS, GE, Bell Labs, and many others. In the 1960s Digitek advertised frequently in Scientific American and Datamation magazines.

Digitek dissolved when taken to task by GE for failing to deliver a promised PL/I compiler for the Multics project. Don Peckham was bought out. With Dave McFarland, also from Digitek, Don Ryan founded Ryan−McFarland which continued the compiler writing work.

Donald Prell

Donald B. Prell (born July 7, 1924) is a venture capitalist, author and futurist who created Datamation, the first magazine devoted solely to the computer hardware and software industry.

Fernando J. Corbató

Fernando José "Corby" Corbató (born July 1, 1926) is a prominent American computer scientist, notable as a pioneer in the development of time-sharing operating systems.


In electronic systems and computing, firmware is a specific class of computer software that provides the low-level control for the device's specific hardware. Firmware can either provide a standardized operating environment for the device's more complex software (allowing more hardware-independence), or, for less complex devices, act as the device's complete operating system, performing all control, monitoring and data manipulation functions. Typical examples of devices containing firmware are embedded systems, consumer appliances, computers, computer peripherals, and others. Almost all electronic devices beyond the simplest contain some firmware.

Firmware is held in non-volatile memory devices such as ROM, EPROM, or flash memory. Changing the firmware of a device may rarely or never be done during its lifetime; some firmware memory devices are permanently installed and cannot be changed after manufacture. Common reasons for updating firmware include fixing bugs or adding features to the device. This may require ROM integrated circuits to be physically replaced, or flash memory to be reprogrammed through a special procedure. Firmware such as the ROM BIOS of a personal computer may contain only elementary basic functions of a device and may only provide services to higher-level software. Firmware such as the program of an embedded system may be the only program that will run on the system and provide all of its functions.

Before the inclusion of integrated circuits, other firmware devices included a discrete semiconductor diode matrix. The Apollo guidance computer had firmware consisting of a specially manufactured core memory plane, called "core rope memory", where data was stored by physically threading wires through (1) or around (0) the core storing each data bit.

IBM 3790

The IBM 3790 Communications System, developed by IBM's Data Processing Division (DPD), was announced in 1975. It was one of the first distributed computing platforms. The 3790 preceded the IBM 8100, announced in 1979.It was designed to be installed in branch offices, stores, subsidiaries, etc., and to be connected to the central host mainframe, using IBM Systems Network Architecture (SNA).

Although its successor's role in distributed data processing was said to be "a turning point in the general direction of worldwide computer development," the 3790 was described by Datamation in March 1979 as "less than successful.".


Infinidat is an Israeli-American data storage company.


A kludge or kluge () is a workaround or quick-and-dirty solution that is clumsy, inelegant, inefficient, difficult to extend and hard to maintain. This term is used in diverse fields such as computer science, aerospace engineering, Internet slang, evolutionary neuroscience, and government. A software kludge (often called "spaghetti code") is frequently the result of hacking. See photo of "A network kludge" at right.

Mary Gardiner

Mary Gardiner is an Australian Linux programmer who was director of operations at the Ada Initiative, described as a "non-profit organization dedicated to increasing participation of women in open technology and culture". She was a council member of Linux Australia until September 2011. In 2012, Gardiner and Ada Initiative co-founder Valerie Aurora were named two of the most influential people in computer security by SC Magazine.

Mike Elgan

Mike Elgan (born December 3, 1961) is an American journalist, blogger, columnist and podcaster. He is a columnist for publications including Computerworld, Cult of Android, Cult of Mac, Forbes, Datamation, eWeek and Baseline.


Minisupercomputers constituted a short-lived class of computers that emerged in the mid-1980s, characterized by the combination of vector processing and small-scale multiprocessing. As scientific computing using vector processors became more popular, the need for lower-cost systems that might be used at the departmental level instead of the corporate level created an opportunity for new computer vendors to enter the market. As a generalization, the price targets for these smaller computers were one-tenth of the larger supercomputers.

Several notable technical, economic, and political attributes characterize minisupercomputers. First, they were architecturally more diverse than prior mainframes and minicomputers in hardware and less diverse in software. Second, advances in VLSI made them less expensive (mini-price). These machines were market targeted to be cost-effective and quickly manufactured. Third, it is notable who did not manufacture minisupercomputers: within the USA, IBM and the traditional mainframe makers, outside the USA: the Japanese supercomputer vendors and Russia (despite attempts to manufacture minicomputers).

The appearance of even lower-priced scientific workstations (e.g., Dana Computer/Ardent Computer/Stellar Computer (the merger of these companies)) based on microprocessors with high performance floating point units (FPUs) during the 1990s (such as the MIPS R8000, IBM POWER2), and Weitek eroded the demand for this class of computer.

The industry magazine Datamation coined the term "crayette" which in short order meant instruction set compatible to Cray Research, Inc.

Online magazine

An online magazine is a magazine published on the Internet, through bulletin board systems and other forms of public computer networks. One of the first magazines to convert from a print magazine format to being online only was the computer magazine Datamation.

Some online magazines distributed through the World Wide Web call themselves webzines. An ezine (also spelled e-zine) is a more specialized term appropriately used for small magazines and newsletters distributed by any electronic method, for example, by electronic mail (e-mail/email, see Zine). Some social groups may use the terms cyberzine and hyperzine when referring to electronically distributed resources. Similarly, some online magazines may refer to themselves as "electronic magazines" or "e-magazines" to reflect their readership demographics or to capture alternative terms and spellings in online searches.

An online magazine shares some features with a blog and also with online newspapers, but can usually be distinguished by its approach to editorial control. Magazines typically have editors or editorial boards who review submissions and perform a quality control function to ensure that all material meets the expectations of the publishers (those investing time or money in its production) and the readership.

Many large print-publishers now provide digital reproduction of their print magazine titles through various online services for a fee. These service providers also refer to their collections of these digital format products as online magazines, and sometimes as digital magazines.

Some online publishers have begun publishing in multiple digital formats, or dual digital formats, that may include both HTML version that look like traditional web pages and Flash versions that appear more like traditional magazines with digital flipping of pages.

Online magazines representing matters of interest to specialists in or societies for academic subjects, science, trade or industry are typically referred to as online journals.


PostmarketOS (stylized as postmarketOS and abbreviated as pmOS) is a free and open-source operating system under development primarily for smartphones, based on the Alpine Linux distribution.PostmarketOS was officially launched on May 6, 2017 with the source code available on GitLab. It is capable of running different X and Wayland based user interfaces, such as Plasma Mobile, Hildon, LuneOS UI, MATE, GNOME 3 and XFCE. The project aims to provide a ten year lifecycle for smartphones.

Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal

"Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal" (a parody of the bestselling 1982 tongue-in-cheek book on stereotypes about masculinity Real Men Don't Eat Quiche) is an essay about computer programming written by Ed Post of Tektronix, Inc., and published in July 1983 as a letter to the editor in Datamation.Widely circulated on Usenet in its day, and well-known in the computer software industry, the article compares and contrasts real programmers, who use punch cards and write programs in FORTRAN or assembly language, with modern-day "quiche eaters" who use programming languages such as Pascal which support structured programming and impose restrictions meant to prevent or minimize common bugs due to inadvertent programming logic errors. Also mentioned are feats such as the inventor of the Cray-1 supercomputer toggling in the first operating system for the CDC 7600 through the front panel without notes when it was first powered on.

The next year Ed Nather’s The Story of Mel, also known as The realest programmer of all, extended the theme, as have many subsequent articles, webcomics and in-jokes—with the alleged defining features of a "Real Programmer" differing with time and place.

The archetypal Real Programmer immortalized in The Story of Mel is Mel Kaye of the Royal McBee Computer Corporation. As the story famously puts it, "He wrote in machine code—in 'raw, unadorned, inscrutable hexadecimal numbers. Directly.'"

Since then, the computer folklore term Real Programmer has come to describe the archetypical "hardcore" programmer who eschews the modern languages and tools of the day in favour of more direct and efficient solutions—closer to the hardware.

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