The book is the Whole Earth Software Catalog, first edition to appear late in 1984, published by Doubleday. Its subject is everything having to do with personal computers. Its function is to evaluate the best of what's available for personal computers.
The on-going magazine has the same subject. Its function is to find the best of what's available for personal computers.
A clear impossibility. Consequently, a clear necessity. Rather than quote the usual astounding statistics of the runaway growth and product proliferation, I can report on my own continuing dismay, delight and intensely educational confusion facing this marketplace as a shopper as well as would-be cataloger. A privileged participant in one of the inner circles of computer mania - COMDEX, the microcomputer and software manufacturer/vendor mating dance at Las Vegas last November - I faced eleven miles of aisles of exhibitors. Nicely dressed fast-track professionals gobbled their hot dogs crouched on the sticky concrete floor because there was no space or time for niceties like chairs. If that's the view from, inside, what does this bizarre bazaar look like to customers?
Something has to provide an overview. Too bad, it's too smoky and fast-moving a battlefield for an overview. And yet ... if we can take it piece by piece . . . and assemble the pieces . . . and use the very technology being reviewed to maintain constant updates. ... If readers are willing to do through a publication what they do in person - share advice. ... If there's a place with the products and equipment and expertise to compare and check the advice. . . . The impossible might become merely difficult. Personal computers are automobiles of the mind. They empower. They can also estrange, but information has a greater capability for self-correction than gasoline and steel. (Also a greater capability for acceleration.) The purpose of this magazine, as with our previous Whole Earth Catalogs, is to aid the empowerment of individuals. And to aid the balance of that empowering.