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David H. Ahl (born 1939) is the founder of Creative Computing magazine. He is also the author of many how-to books, including BASIC Computer Games, the first computer book to sell more than a million copies.[1]

After earning degrees in electrical engineering and business administration, while completing his Ph.D. in educational psychology, Digital Equipment Corporation hired Ahl as a marketing consultant in 1969 to develop its educational products line. He edited EDU, DEC's newsletter on educational uses of computers, that regularly published instructions for playing computer games on minicomputers. During the 1973 recession, DEC cut back on educational product development and Ahl was dismissed.

He was rehired into a DEC division dedicated to developing new hardware, and his group became caught up in building a computer that was smaller than any yet built, intending to bring the new product into new markets such as schools. DEC built the VT180 "Robin", which was a VT100 terminal with an added Zilog Z80-based microcomputer running the CP/M operating system, but this product was initially available only to DEC employees.[2]

Ahl talked DEC into publishing a book he had put together, 101 BASIC Computer Games. Viewing the computer as an individual educational tool, games seemed a natural part of the package. Ahl presented his plan for marketing personal computers at a meeting of DEC's Operations Committee. He argued that children learning about computers should be able to get their hands on the real machines, not just terminals connected to a time-sharing system. As Ahl later recalled, the engineers seemed interested, but the board was not enthusiastic.

Frustrated, Ahl left DEC in 1974, and started Creative Computing, one of the earliest magazines covering the microcomputer revolution.[3] For the next decade Creative Computing covered the whole spectrum of hobbyist/home/personal computing, and although Ahl sold it to Ziff Davis in the early 1980s, he continued in his capacity as Editor-in-Chief.

In 2010, David Ahl helped re-publish a Special 25th and 30th Anniversary Edition of two of his classic programming books, specifically for a new development environment for beginners, called Microsoft Small Basic.[4]


  1. ^ Anderson, J. J. (November 1984). "Dave tells Ahl--the history of Creative computing". Creative Computing. 10 (11): 66–8+.
  2. ^ Croxton, Greg. "DEC Robin (VT-180) & documentation". DigiBarn Computer Museum. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
  3. ^ Freiberger & Swaine (2000). Fire in the Valley: The Making of The Personal Computer (Second Edition), McGraw Hill, ISBN 0-07-135892-7.
  4. ^ Ahl, David, "Further Thoughts (2010)"

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