Popular Computing was a monthly computer magazine published from 1981 to 1985 by McGraw-Hill, Inc. Popular Computing was the successor to McGraw-Hill's quarterly journal onComputing. It focused on covering general interest personal computing topics in an accessible manner.

Popular Computing
PublisherMcGraw-Hill, Inc.
First issueNovember 1981; 42 years ago (1981-11)
Final issueDecember 1985; 38 years ago (1985-12)
CountryUnited States
Based inPeterborough, New Hampshire



Popular Computing's predecessor onComputing ran for ten issues from 1979 to 1981 and marketed itself as a "guide to personal computing."[1] The magazine rebranded as Popular Computing and switched to a new staff and monthly schedule to fully cover the rapidly expanding and increasingly popular field of personal computing. Popular Computing aimed to "demythologize" personal computing with accessible coverage on consumer advice, news, gaming, historical essays, and contemporary developments.[2]

McGraw-Hill positioned Popular Computing as an accessible, non-technical magazine for a general interest readership, alongside Byte, its specialized magazine for more technically-inclined readers.[3][4]



In 1983, Popular Computing was the world's second-highest circulation computer magazine behind Computers & Electronics, with a paid circulation of 460,000.[5] In 1984, 89% of Popular Computing subscribers were male, and the magazine published an article in its September 1984 edition about the gender disparity in computing.[6][7] In October 1984, the National Library Service for the Blind and Handicapped began distributing a braille edition of Popular Computing.[8] At the time of its closure in December 1985, Popular Computing was one of the four largest personal computer magazines, with a circulation of about 250,000 to 270,000.[9][10]



Notable contributing writers to Popular Computing included:

McWilliams stopped writing for the magazine due to a disagreement with its editorial stance, which he felt homogenized articles into inoffensive, monotone prose.[25]



McGraw-Hill ceased publication of the magazine after the December 1985 issue, stating that its "resources would be better applied to other areas in the microcomputer field which have better prospects for growth."[26] In its final months, Popular Computing attempted to shift its focus from general interest readers towards business users. McGraw-Hill failed to find a buyer for the magazine and its advertising "fell 29% during the first half of 1985."[9] Popular Computing had been operating at a loss for two years with no reversal expected, and McGraw-Hill decided to end the magazine just before the December 1985 issue went to press.[10] According to a McGraw-Hill public relations director, Popular Computing struggled because it was competing with too many general interest computer magazines. As the computer industry matured, advertisers became more sophisticated about targeting markets and broadened their focus to television and newspapers.[27]


  1. ^ Abisch, Barry (1997-09-13). "Pioneer magazine makes a quaint read". The Herald Statesman. p. 7C.
  2. ^ Morgan, Chris (November 1981). "Personal's View". Popular Computing. 1 (1). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 4.
  3. ^ Levoy, Greg (1982-12-31). "Processing the Word On Home Computers". The Cincinnati Enquirer. p. D-1.
  4. ^ Stein, Otto (1983-10-14). "Hardware reading anything but soft". The Windsor Star. p. B7.
  5. ^ "Boom in Computer Magazines". The New York Times. 1983-11-09. section D, page 1.
  6. ^ Blasko, Larry (1985-08-26). "Computer shock: a 'slimy' future". The Modesto Bee. p. E6.
  7. ^ Watt, Dan (September 1984). "Bridging the Gender Gap". Popular Computing. 3 (11). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 54–59.
  8. ^ Alderson, George (1985-03-21). "Handicapped, Handicapable". The Danville News. p. 4.
  9. ^ a b Markoff, John (1985-10-31). "One of top 4 PC magazines calling it quits". The San Francisco Examiner. pp. C-1–C-2.
  10. ^ a b Calloway, James (1985-12-08). "Failure of two computer magazines signals trouble for industry as a whole". The News & Observer. p. 11D.
  11. ^ Aasimov, Isaac (February 1982). "The Word Processor and I". Popular Computing. 1 (4). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 32.
  12. ^ Benyo, Richard (October 1984). "Dirty Business in Silicon Valley". Popular Computing. 3 (12). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 95.
  13. ^ Carey, Pete (January 1985). "The Future of the Micro: Looking Ahead at the Next Decade". Popular Computing. 4 (3). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 89.
  14. ^ Crawford, Chris (September 1983). "Why You Should Learn to Program". Popular Computing. 2 (11). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 153.
  15. ^ Dalton, Richard (September 1985). "Software for Managers". Popular Computing. 4 (11). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 22.
  16. ^ Hartmann, Thom (January 1985). "The Micro Merlin". Popular Computing. 4 (3). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 110.
  17. ^ Levy, Steven (October 1984). "Micro Journal". Popular Computing. 3 (12). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 31.
  18. ^ McWilliams, Peter (February 1982). "Writing Poetry on a Word Processor". Popular Computing. 1 (4). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 38.
  19. ^ Peterson, Dale (November 1984). "Cybernetic Serendipity". Popular Computing. 4 (1). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 74.
  20. ^ Pournelle, Jerry (October 1984). "The Micro Revolution". Popular Computing. 3 (12). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 60.
  21. ^ Rothenberg, Randall Rothenberg (February 1985). "Computers Search for Real E.T.s". Popular Computing. 4 (4). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 94.
  22. ^ Swirsky, Robert (March 1982). "The Voice". Popular Computing. 1 (5). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 122.
  23. ^ Weinberger, David (October 1985). "A Robot-Friendly Future?". Popular Computing. 4 (12). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 86.
  24. ^ Zebrowski, George (February 1985). "Fiction: Gödel's Doom". Popular Computing. 4 (4). McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 86.
  25. ^ McWilliams, Peter (1983-06-30). "Infoworld, Byte among the best". The Manhattan Mercury. p. A5.
  26. ^ "McGraw Hill Unit Drops Magazine". The New York Times. 1985-11-02. Section 1, page 36.
  27. ^ Tompor, Susan (1986-01-13). "Targeting audience is secret of success, publisher believes". The Courier-Journal. p. C 1–C 3.