Perusing The People’s Computing Company
If you are a certain age, you may remember People’s Computing Company (PCC) from the 1970s. It wasn’t really a company, but rather a computer bulletin for people in the visual style of the time. In the first issue, published in October 1972, founders Dennis Alison, Bob Albrecht and George Friedrake explained their reasons for starting the newsletter:
Computers are used primarily against people instead of people used to control people instead of Free them; it’s time to change all this – we need … People’s Computer Company
The Mountain View CA Computer History Museum (CHM) has a collection of prints of these publications donated by [Jim Warren], covering its ten – year edition (changing its name to Entertainment calculations in 1979). Although the museum is closed to the public these days due to concerns from Covid, a CHM supporter [Bob Zeidman] has scanned all the issues and they are available in Archive of CHM collections.
It’s really fun to look at these old issues and see the kinds of topics that were of interest at the time. Many of them would still be of interest today, and many others are obsolete due to advances in technology (but they are still fun to read if you are interested in retro calculations). For example, in the first issue you can read why you can use different lenses on your Bell & Howell movie projector, a comparison of the DEC and HP computers used in educational settings, and how to save money on your teleprinter and consumables contracts such as TTY paper. , ribbons and perforated paper tape. If you have time to kill, take a look at these archives and go back to a time when desktop publishing literally meant writing and drawing by hand with metal styluses on special templates that were mounted on drums in your mimeograph machine one page at a time.
PCC is an early supporter of copyright-free software, teaches computer programming, uses computer games as a learning tool, and promotes computer literacy for all. They did this not only through the newsletter, but also through educational books, an organization called ComputerTown USA! for children’s education and periodicals such as DragonSmoke and Journal of Computer Calisthenics and Orthodontics by Dr. Dob (edited by [Jim Warren] mentioned above), which became a popular computer magazine Journal of Dr. Dob which remained in publication until 2014. A few years ago we wrote a piece for software-defined radio project by PCC in 1975. Do you have favorite archives of old magazines that you like to browse from time to time?