Friday 16 January 2015 marked the sudden and tragic death of the original and UK-based magazine MacUser. After nearly 30 glorious years of both brand-leading design and content, and the inspired efforts of a series of editors, contributors, and staff, the steep decline in specialist publishing markets finally got the better even of its last editor-in-chief, Adam Banks, who had done so remarkably over the last 4 years.
Like all its other contributors, I wrote largely because I enjoyed doing so and seemed to satisfy the readers. With so many eminent contributors, including the late Douglas Adams, Steve Caplin, the late Tony Tyler, Dick Powell, Keith Martin, Christopher Phin, and Kenny Hemphill among others, I knew that I was rubbing commas with the great. Writing Q&A and various technical sections is usually a marginal pursuit at best, but it seemed to be appreciated, and other contributors felt confident enough to ask me their technical questions. In all, I wrote over 440 Help sections. At its height, when MacUser published every fortnight, it was non-stop research and writing on top of a very busy day job, with little time to sleep.
I have many fond memories of writing tasks: describing a trip to Japan and the remarkable city electronics districts there, interviewing the QuickTime Product Manager in Infinite Loop in Cupertino, hopping up to Sun’s offices south of London to test out Apple’s virtual Mac system running on Sun systems, and trekking up to NW London to check out Apple’s IBM servers. (I should add that I paid all my own expenses quite happily, as the overseas travel came bundled with other work.) Perhaps the most frequent and pervasive were the Friday phone calls from Julian Torreggiani pleading with me to write a feature over that weekend in time to go to production on Monday morning! And then there were the interminably challenging but often hilariously funny judging sessions for the MacUser Awards.
It is poignant that this happens during Apple’s period of greatest commercial success, when there are more Mac users out there than ever before. It is a tragedy that the only print periodicals surviving now are perhaps the least deserving. But it was wonderful when it lasted: thank you Felix Dennis, editors all, and cherished colleagues.
The last little irony is that immediately below Friday’s announcement on the MacUser site was the invitation to subscribe to the magazine. Or perhaps share that remaining ache in our hearts, or the tear welling in the eye, where it used to be.