2013-01-10 · in Media Archiving · 434 words

Magazine coverdisks

In addition to old computers, I've also got quite a few 80s and 90s computer magazines, mostly Amiga- or Acorn-related — most of which are now available from the Internet Archive. Lots of these magazines came with coverdisks; I was originally planning just to image the more interesting coverdisks, but wound up doing the lot (which avoided having to decide which were interesting!).

This didn't present any major challenges. Nearly all the disks are in one of the regular AmigaDOS formats, and in many cases I had duplicate copies to choose from. The winner here was the Amiga Format issue 67 coverdisk which contained AMOS Pro, a game-oriented BASIC implementation that was extremely popular — it turns out that literally every Amiga owner who gave me disks bought that issue of the magazine:

AMOS Pro from Amiga Format

Since Workbench allowed arbitrarily large icons, some of the early magazines put considerable effort into making their coverdisks look really beautiful:

Amiga Format issue 6 Amiga Format issue 12 Amiga Computing coverdisk 11 Amiga Computing issue 40

Amiga Format issue 12 was a special issue on electronic music, and came with an audio cassette as well as a disk. (This wasn't as unusual as it might sound, since the Spectrum and C64 magazines that survived into the early 90s routinely came with cassettes.) I digitised the tape as well; unfortunately it didn't say whether it was mastered with Dolby B noise reduction or not, but it sounds OK with it turned on...

Lots of Amiga coverdisks are available in the TOSEC collection. At the time, the ones that I imaged that weren't in TOSEC were:

The disk-imaging project gave me an excuse to sort out all the magazines, freeing up quite a bit of space in my boxroom and making it clearer which issues I had (and which I had duplicates of).

Some of my Amiga Format magazines

Later magazines came with cover CDs rather than disks; I have most of the cover CDs from Amiga Format and CU Amiga, and a few from other magazines. As with the floppies, the earliest ones of these are the most interesting — as the magazines suddenly had a thousand times as much storage space to fill, they included all sorts of things! I haven't yet imaged these; I haven't yet found a tool for Linux that'll create a good-quality dump of CDs with both audio and data tracks. The place to look for these would be the Internet Archive's CD collection.

Cover CDs