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The Media Technology

Hard Goodbye to Alice and Bill 159

cuzality writes "Computer Shopper has decided to let 'The Hard Edge' go after twelve years and two months of 'edgy, sarcastic, reader-centric columns' by Alice and Bill. Many of us remember 'The Hard Edge' from all the way back when it was in the newsprint section of the inch-thick Computer Shopper, and it's always been the straight skinny direct from the Lab of Doom and Pepsi Cola. Though 'The Hard Edge' has met its untimely and abrupt end, Alice and Bill aren't splitting up: they will continue on together at AliceandBill.com, where they write about technology news and will be happy to accept your kind PayPal donation." (More below.)

"They are also signing up subscribers for an upcoming newsletter, but since they can't use the name 'The Hard Edge' (which is owned by C|Net, CS's parent company), they will have to use some alternate name, possibly 'Hedge Yard.' If you were loyal 'Hard Edge' reader, drop by and write them a nice note in their guestbook."

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Hard Goodbye to Alice and Bill

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  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @09:51AM (#10503323)
    Taken from dreambook.com [dreambook.com]:
    Name: Michael Franklin
    Homepage URL: http://snmmedia.com
    Comments: Hi Guys,

    I have been reading your column ever since you had a column. I was saddened when I read that your latest column would be your last. I emailed Computer Shopper to voice my support for you and tell them I would never read their publication again and in fact, would probably use my existing pages of CS for some sort of nefarious activity involving dog poop.

    I won't uses the pages of your column for puppy pages though, but it is an apt metaphor for how I feel right now. Like CS pooped on us all.

    I donated to the cause and have bookmarked your site. You guys are the best and I hope to hear more of your unbiased opinions in the future.

    Friday, October 8th 2004 - 01:15:52 PM


    Well, as much as I loved computer shopper back in the early 1990s I stopped reading it somewhere in the late 1990s. I saw it recently on a magazine rack and was quite disappointed to see it being thin and boring. I loved to spend hours pouring over its pages looking for deals and daydreaming of the best computer I could buy on my budget. I enjoyed them because they were different not because they were the same. They offered something that made them stand out against all the other magazines. Why they would change formats to be like everyone else I'll never know.

    CS didn't let you down when they dropped Alice and Bill's article they let you down years ago when they changed formats. From what I read online I can only imagine that this will continue the downhill slide that CS has taken since I stopped reading it all those years ago.
    • by JDevers ( 83155 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @10:06AM (#10503443)
      I'm sure there are many among us that spent their spare time in the early 90s pouring over the thousand plus pages of a ~$2 Computer Shopper just for the ads. Once I filled out the giant product advertiser card for every product in the magazine, a month later I wasn't the most popular person in the house when about 90% of the mail was absolute junk that even I wasn't interested in.
    • by sczimme ( 603413 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @10:08AM (#10503457)

      Well, as much as I loved computer shopper back in the early 1990s I stopped reading it somewhere in the late 1990s. I saw it recently on a magazine rack and was quite disappointed to see it being thin and boring.
      ...
      Why they would change formats to be like everyone else I'll never know.


      They changed formats because the web made their service much less useful in the mid/late 1990s.

      I read just about every issue of CS in the early 1990s, but as web shopping/searching/reviewing became more prevalent I had decreasing use for the dead-tree version.

      As for them changing format: don't people on /. always say that large media companies must update their business models to reflect changing times and consumer tastes? It appears CS has done just that. Where is the problem?
      • As for them changing format: don't people on /. always say that large media companies must update their business models to reflect changing times and consumer tastes? It appears CS has done just that. Where is the problem?

        The problems as I see them: They weren't successful? I am not drawn to this updated format? The magazine is just like every other one out there and doesn't stand out on the rack like it used to (as I mentioned above)?
        • I loved the big fat version of CS also, for just the reason you described. I think they actually switched formats because the postal carriers lobbied for the change. Would -you- want to be one of the poor bastards carrying around a stack of those things for home delivery? The switch probably put chiropractors (sp?) out of business in some areas of the country.

        • They weren't successful?

          The very nature of CS - a printed collection of ads and articles (w/ emphasis on 'ads') - was doomed right around 1995. Why buy the hard copy when shopping and review web sites can be updated frequently (i.e. more than once a month)?

          I am not drawn to this updated format?

          Okay, it doesn't work for you. You are not a statistically significant sample set.

          The magazine is just like every other one out there and doesn't stand out on the rack like it used to (as I mentioned
    • ditto (Score:5, Interesting)

      by HBI ( 604924 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @10:18AM (#10503533) Journal
      I think the web killed them though, along with consolidation in the clone market. Microsoft can be fairly blamed here as they made sure that with the onset of Windows, that writing drivers to their specifications was required to sell a system. Obvious advantages in mass-production were the result and the extinction of niche clone makers quickly followed.

      No more going to the Chinese guy in the industrial park to buy systems. I remember my first trip there back in the 80s when I had a 286 board that wasn't working with my SIPPs, this guy threw my board on a pile of DOA boards and ripped out a new one, mounted 1MB of RAM on it and sent me on my way. Woohoo! That was CS at work.

      CS was the heart of the hobbyist market of the 80s and early 90s. Drilling holes in toner cartridges and punching holes in floppy disks is long gone, as is building your own system as a common endeavor. CS' time has passed.

      I never liked the Hard Edge much anyway - they devoted too many pages to that. I would have preferred general interest stuff rather, more hole drillings and hardware mods!
      • Re:ditto (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo ( 153816 )
        The chinese guy in the industrial park is still there if you live in the silicon valley. Other than that, he's become the chinese guy on ebay. Of course that eliminates the service aspect but as PCs are only getting easier to work on I see that as less of an issue. The last thing to be done to make PC hardware trivial is to actually standardize on fixed motherboard sizes so we can just slide them into place on rails. Er, that and the front panel headers need to be standardized. Then the bar to PC building w
        • Re:ditto (Score:3, Interesting)

          by HBI ( 604924 )
          Back then, Dell used to produce relatively standard systems, and hell, IBM invented the AT-style motherboard. In 1987 IBM forcibly made their hardware incompatible (with the PS/2 line) and has never looked back. Today, Dell has no incentive to use an ATX form factor, but all third party boards are ATX format.

          I think there are forces at work which will oppose any further standardization beyond the third-party ghetto that we both apparently live in. Yeah, rail mounted motherboards would be nice, and are v
          • rail mounted motherboards would be nice, and are very feasible, but we're going to have to wait a bit to get them. Even then, the big hardware makers aren't going to participate unless it is somehow in their interest.

            Hardware makers have already all but abandoned NLX-type systems for ATX. Even their smaller systems are typically mini-atx, though some of them are reduced clearance. Even so you can purchase standard (if slightly more expensive) cards with brackets for low clearance expansion slots.

            Th

    • It's obvious why CS changed formats: they lost major amounts of ad revenue. Just look at how skinny the magazine is today.

      I would also wager that you would find the old computer shopper boring today. It is obselete. The web has turned selling computer components into a very different thing than the "catalog" days when CS was in it's prime.

      It's about time Alice & Bill jumped ship. Towards the end of my reading CS, their column was the only one of interest in the entire magazine.
    • I used to read CS when it was the huge tome of its heyday, as well. I did the same things that you did--shopping, calling the vendors, finding deals.

      I think that the internet killed it. Why should you spend all that money to buy an ad in a magazine when you can set up an online store and actually sell stuff right from it?

      I was saddened when CS started to lose its tradtitional shape and mass, but it's the way things go. There's no market for such a magazine anymore, so it dies. We still remember tidbit
      • Dang! I wish you guys were still reading in August when I was their site of the month. You can see a scanned copy of the article here [dealsites.net]. I was a big fan back in the day too when they had the thick version. It was almost unreal that you could get a phonebook sized magazine for $2. I got the hard copy with the issue of my site of the month, and the articles are more general computing. Not as much shopping as I would have though.
    • CS didn't let you down when they dropped Alice and Bill's article they let you down years ago when they changed formats. From what I read online I can only imagine that this will continue the downhill slide that CS has taken since I stopped reading it all those years ago.

      True. But dropping Alice and Bill nails the coffin shut.

      Goodbye, CS.
  • Inch thick? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I think you're doing the trees that were sacraficed so that I might find great deals on 386 notebooks a great injustice.
  • Uhh.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jakhel ( 808204 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @09:53AM (#10503347)
    they will continue on together at AliceandBill.com, where they write about technology news and will be happy to accept your kind PayPal donation."

    So they're eBums? ::imagines geeks on the corner with "Will review for food" signs::

  • by chrispyman ( 710460 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @09:54AM (#10503364)
    PayPal donation eh? Some earlier story suggests otherwise.
    • What horrible luck they have - first getting laid off, and then at the one moment they get massive free exposure to their plight, they can't capitalize on the thousands of nostalgic /.ers who may have given them a buck or two on impulse.
      • Re:PayPal donation? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Alice_Hill ( 821500 )
        First - thank you to EVERYONE who said they liked the column. We loved doing it and still are reeling from the decision to replace us with a shopping section of products and prices. And to the person who said this news item was done as a cheap ploy to get PayPal donations - we wish! The %$%% site is down. Guess this isn't out month. But thanks to all, and I hope you'll check out Aliceandbill.com. We are funding it ourselves for Hard Edge readers and post every day, so we hope you'll like it. We are also "i
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @09:55AM (#10503365) Homepage Journal
    You man people still read ComputerShopper?

    Back in the day, when computer parts weren't for sale at your local supermarket - back when you had to go to a special store just to be diskettes - ComputerShopper filled a need.

    Barely.

    It was always a bear to find, say, all ads for tape drives, and to compare the prices of each vendor. It was a PAIN to locate anything special - you spent more time than it was worth to flip through the 8000 pages of ads to find the ones selling what you want.

    Now, you go to [Google/Froogle/Yahoo/eBay/...] and type in a quick search, and there you are.

    Next you'll tell me that there are still people reading Byte!

    • by Jakhel ( 808204 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @10:01AM (#10503404)
      Back in the day, when computer parts weren't for sale at your local supermarket - back when you had to go to a special store just to be diskettes - ComputerShopper filled a need.

      Barely.

      It was always a bear to find, say, all ads for tape drives, and to compare the prices of each vendor. It was a PAIN to locate anything special - you spent more time than it was worth to flip through the 8000 pages of ads to find the ones selling what you want.


      And after we found the ones we wanted, we had to walk uphill both ways IN THE SNOW just to get to the mailbox to send off ourorders to the parts manufacturer!!

      AND WE LIKED IT!!

      • You had mailboxes? Our family had to hand-deliver our mail to the post office: which was 25 miles into town. While it wasn't uphill both ways, invariably the horse would die of exposure while you waited in line at the post office for 4 hours, and you had to haul his carcass on your back to the farm for burial.
    • I remember it, it happened to be available in non English speaking countries and it was the only generalist computer related magazine to feature ARM/Acorn/RiscOS stuff on their cover CD.
      If they start getting rid of what made them special, then I guess it's because their time is over.

    • Ah, yes, the arrogance that if it didn't meet your needs, well....

      I *didn't* read CS to buy.

      I read CS to *shop*

      There is a difference.

      And, boy, could you shop. As a previous poster mentioned, I would flip its pages over and over, and *dream* about the kind of computer I could afford... if only I wasn't a starving college student living in his car sometimes. It was imformative. It was truly a learning experience.

      Oh, and I bought my diskettes at Wal-Mart. At $1/piece.
    • Yes. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by abb3w ( 696381 )
      Computer Shopper provides a quick overview of things that are commercially available +/- 3 months of publication. I've seldom bought anything directly as a result, but it's useful to know what hardware genres are rising and falling.

      I also periodically get "one year free trial offers" for it, and therefore have never paid for it. Yes, they want a credit card number for "automatic" renewal. I usually have at least one old card around from when I last took a "introductory 0.99% life-of-loan no-fee balance tr

    • Next you'll tell me that there are still people reading Byte! Don't be ridiculous! Byte became Bit before becoming being bought by benevolent babies bent on becoming Biters. (sorry).
    • the cheap ads were in the back. You know, the non-glossy pages. :)
    • ...but I still fondly remember it. I was a loyal reader as a kid starting in the late 80s until the mid 90s.

      In the pre-Wintel era in our house it forst gained attention for being among the last good sources of non-IBM/DOS information. They had a great "orphanage" section that enthusiasts of oddballs like TI99/4A and Coleco ADAM in particular enjoyed (they also covered machines like the Apple IIGS, Amiga and Atari ST, although the latter two were covered thorougly by European magazines well into the 90s).
    • "Next you'll tell me that there are still people reading Byte!"

      Alas, Byte is long long gone.

      CMP swallowed it up, then trashed it and offered me 6 months of "Windows Magazine" or something equally useless to me in return for my remaining subscription.

      Ah, but Byte went downhill after they dropped Circuit Cellar, anyway.

      Subscribed to the big CompShop back in the day, too...
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @09:56AM (#10503375)
    will be happy to accept your kind PayPal donation. ... just as soon as it comes back online.
  • by M-2 ( 41459 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @09:57AM (#10503377) Homepage
    ...and Alfred Poor. I think this goes off my list now.

    Oh, well, there's always Maximum PC.
  • Who? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Surt ( 22457 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @09:57AM (#10503380) Homepage Journal
    I've read CS from time to time over the years and never noticed that column. Is there really a large following, or was this just a last ditch attempt to get some attention and money by this Alice and Bill?
    • Back before the internet hit computer shopper was THE place to look for deals on computers. The Hard Edge was always a funny and interesting article to read. I haven't kept up with it these last few years, but they were unique in really telling you what they thought about stuff.
  • by gambit3 ( 463693 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @09:58AM (#10503384) Homepage Journal

    As a previous poster pointed out, CS disappointed LONG ago. But I have memories of my lean years in college (in more ways than one), where, if I bought ONE magazine, it was CS, and if I bought it for ONE reason, it was to read The Hard Edge. And sometimes for Poor's Computer Cures. But it was the Hard Edge, along with the endless ads, that gave CS its trademark flavor. I have long since stopped even looking at CS -- let alone buying it -- since it stopped being its unique self, and tried to mold itself into a more traditional computer magazine. Don't we have enough of those already?

    Just because I know I didn't say it enough (OK, OK, I NEVER said it...):

    Thanks, Bill and Alice (or Alice and Bill?), for teaching me about computers by guiding me past the marketing hype.
  • by mikeage ( 119105 ) <`slashdot' `at' `mikeage.net'> on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @10:01AM (#10503402) Homepage
    Come on, people, do you really _want_ 1000 pages of Computer Shopper, instead of browsing at any number of online searchable sites? I think pricewatch completely destroyed any need for an outdated, heavy, tiny print dead tree publication. Don't get me wrong... I miss computer shopper too, but nostalgically, not for it's uses.

    That said, Alice and Bill had a great column, which I did read religiously. Unfortunely, it wasn't enough to motivate me to buy the entire magazine.
    • Come on, people, do you really _want_ 1000 pages of Computer Shopper, instead of browsing at any number of online searchable sites?

      Yes I do. Even in computers today, not *everything* is a commodity, to be purchased by comparing to see which widget is $0.05 less than the next. While price is always important, it's not the MOST important aspect of pretty much anything I buy, which makes sites like pricewatch boring and stale.
      • Come on, people, do you really _want_ 1000 pages of Computer Shopper, instead of browsing at any number of online searchable sites?

        Yes I do. Even in computers today, not *everything* is a commodity, to be purchased by comparing to see which widget is $0.05 less than the next. While price is always important, it's not the MOST important aspect of pretty much anything I buy, which makes sites like pricewatch boring and stale.


        Ok, excellent point-- but how would Computer Shopper help you? Of the 1000 pages
        • Ok, excellent point-- but how would Computer Shopper help you? Of the 1000 pages, probably 900 were just advertising... it wasn't Computer Reviewer.

          The ads WERE cool! You could see pictures, read specs, find that wierd little adapter you needed, find stuff that you didn't even know existed, see all the different vendors, etc. It was fun! Plus, you could just keep it by the toilet, and peruse and peruse and peruse. It was almost as cool as finding a really cool computer store that has all kinds of *st
        • Gateway rose to prominence through ads in Computer Shopper. You weren't a geek in the 90s unless you could remember some of their 14-page themed ads. (My favorite was Power to the People.) Looking at a company's ad could give you a real feel for the company's culture. Now, instead of hundreds of ads, you have hundreds of web sites, all unique in the exact same way, all produced by drones and marketroids. All worthless except for the ease of searching. And as it turns out, people WANTED ease of searching.
      • I don't really use PriceWatch anyway. I'm not after the cheapest part sold by a fly-by-night company.
    • Thats why its not popular.

      Before the web, how would you know what to buy and how to buy it?

      Oh I would love to know how much faster this burning 75mhz pentium1 is compared to my umble 486dx2. How much would it cost to upgrade?

      Today we go to www.tomshardware.com or www.firingsquad.com or slashdot. We would then compare prices on www.compusa.com, www.cdw.com, www.egghead.com, etc.

      I was also interested in risc and wondered how much better these new powerpc's were. There was no slashdot back then so I read B
  • i hate english. (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by orangesquid ( 79734 )
    Computer Shopper has decided to let 'The Hard Edge' go after twelve years and two months of 'edgy, sarcastic, reader-centric columns' by Alice and Bill.

    Well, I would let them go, too, if, after twelve years, they had only had two months of edgy columns!

    Oh, wait, you mean that "and" does not separate two separate thoughts, but merely two parts of the same number? :-/

    We need slashdot submissions written in Lojban [wikipedia.org]...
  • Oops, (Score:5, Funny)

    by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @10:06AM (#10503438) Homepage
    It is actually Alice and Bob, but there was some problem communicating that info in a reliable manner.
  • Or will they? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by nizo ( 81281 )
    they will continue on together at AliceandBill.com, where they write about technology news and will be happy to accept your kind PayPal donation.

    Or at least they would if paypal wasn't broken [yahoo.com] (top story on their website no less).

  • My CS Experience (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Himring ( 646324 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @10:08AM (#10503461) Homepage Journal
    I bought my first 386 through CS: 1MB RAM, monochrome monitor, conner 200something HD. I called the company back later to get a price check on a soundcard and the guy yelled at me -- he was stressed or something and only took purchases, no price check cowboy! I think the name of the company was Hitek or something. Later, my buddy paid waaay too much for a 486 through a company in CS called "Legacy Computers" I think it was. They promptly went out of business and so did his warranty.

    CS was a mammoth book of companies that apparently did not have to meet any criteria. The present online way of doing business with sellers, being able to check their consumer ratings, etc., is how it should be.

    No /. reader should be surprised by the death of any paper-based technical periodical, especially one replaced by the modern, searchable, web....
    • You can get ripped off just as easily today. Back then, you used word of mouth to find out who was good and who was not. I had great success dealing with reputable companies that advertised in CS.

      The reason why the guy yelled at you was because the Computer Shopper pricing models were cutthroat. The price checks were often done by competing retailers so they could undercut someone else - even by a buck - in print. There was a 3 month lag back then between ad submission and print. You see the issue.
      • I have never before, nor since, had any reservations about contacting any company and inquiring as to prices on products they sell....

        Next week: why the operator yells at you for using Information
      • Today, you can use resellerratings.com to find out who is and is not good. If I had checked them before trying to buy stuff from bzboyz.com I would have been much happier...
      • And your suggestion of checking people out back then too -- duh. There was always the BBB, but that only goes so far. Companies can be so new that there's not been time for them to build a bad record, and changing names and re-registering with the BBB is classic and was common back then, so the only way to check them out was flawed. The BBB only serves a purpose if the company has been around for years with an established record

        Today, you can check something you couldn't back then so easily: direct us
        • If you knew my name you could find evidence of me online in 1989. I was 20 then. I know how things worked because I worked for several mail order retailers. You know the one with the blonde on the cover of the catalog that just got bought last year by CDW? That was from 87-91.

          One good way of verifying a retailer, if you didn't have a BBS community to rely on, was to watch the ads for a retailer over time. I kept all my CS issues and could go back two years to see if X retailer existed then. Then, you
  • by vasqzr ( 619165 ) <vasqzr.netscape@net> on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @10:12AM (#10503491)

    Kinda strange.

    Computer shopper used to have hundreds of pages, and they weren't littl 8-1/2" by 11" pages. This was a BIG book...

    HUGE ads. Remember those Viewsonic birds? Full page, in color. 21" monitors for $2000. Pages of RAM, CPU, motherboards, floppy drives, keyboards. Bargains all over. Giant Dell and Gateway Ads, Micron, Midwest Micro.

    I would honestly buy a couple back issues if I could find some on eBay. They're like computer time machines. Mine were all thrown out as pages were highlighted, torn out, and became dog eared.

    Truly an icon of the PC industry in the early 90's.

    Now, with sites like Pricewatch, and everyone and their brother selling PC parts at low cost, they've basically faded into just another junk computer magazine. 60-70 regular size pages. The last one I read covered video cards and 'case mods'. Basically a 'PC World'. The internet killed computer magazines, especially those like Computer Shopper.
    • Huh, just my luck... I threw out a bunch of my CS from the late 80s-90s that I had in my garage. Now I find out I could have sold them. New resolution: throw nothing away without first putting it on E-Bay!
    • ...is so we can sound like old-timers to the kiddies.

      [Me] In myyyy dayyyy...we didn't have no fancy http://pricewatch.com/ [pricewatch.com]!
      [Kid] [Rolls eyes, thinking:] Pricewatch? Geez, get with the times, grandpa...try http://pricegrabber.com/ [pricegrabber.com]...
      [Me] We had to go to an actual store, where we paid money for a big huge thick heavy book, printed on actual paper! Aaaaand we had to search (and I don't mean with no fancy Google!) through the pages and pages of ads!
      [Kid] Uh...really?
      [Me] Hell yeah! And, half
  • At least now CS will have room to finally bring back the Amiga section.
  • Those were such great magazines. I always had this feeling that they'd be great for a nerd/geek house training a puppy. Puppy pees on the floor, roll up a computer shopper issue, and give the puppy a smart whack to the butt. The dog will from that point on hold it for hours at the mere sight of a computer shopper issue in your hands.
    • I don't think you could ever actually "roll up" an issue of the old Computer Shopper. They were already almost as thick as they were wide. If you did succeed in rolling it up, it would be like a section of log.

      But they were still useful for puppy discipline. Simply drop that thing flat on the floor next to where the puppy is doing whatever it shouldn't. The loud *THUNK* and shock wave were as startling as any physical tail-smacking.

    • Puppy pees on the floor, roll up a computer shopper issue, and give the puppy a smart whack to the butt.
      Couldn't you just throw a UNIX manual at it?
  • Starting in the 80's up to the late 90's, I bought CS every month. The Hard Edge was just one of the columns I read - both for it's information and humorous presentation. Lately, I bought CS once a year out of curiousity - but it couldn't hold a candle to its former glory. I actually bought it this month and was surpised and saddened when I found it was heir final article.

    It's a sad development because it's one of the last connections to the earlier days of computing when the community was smaller. CS
  • by FerretFrottage ( 714136 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @10:21AM (#10503561)
    Well I can tell that my mailman/person has gotten much happier as CS has decreased in size. I remember him one time complaining about how big it was and that it accounted for 1/3 or so of his mail bag weight. I told him that I got all the neighbors gift subscriptions. There was a slight bit of panic for a second til he realized I was kidding.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I quit reading ComputerShopper years ago - probably around 2000 or so.

    I didn't like that they were trying to take it in the "Buyers Guide" direction. I really did enjoy sifting through hundreds of ads from clone manufacturers all over the country, looking for deals.

    I also enjoyed most of the old school articles that were HEAVILY techie slanted - you could actually learn useful things back then.

    I guess the Internet has been slowly killing it - that and the watered down content. The Shopper peaked during t
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They alienated 95% of the population with that title.

    Everyone knows that IT geeks only drink Diet Coke and Mountain Dew!
  • by asdfasdfasdfasdf ( 211581 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @10:31AM (#10503653)
    I worked for an outfit here in Virginia Beach called "Galaxy Computers" about a decade ago. It was a russian couple essentially trying to exploit Americans. While they weren't a total ripoff-- they made an effort to ship things honestly, but FORGET about returns and refunds. There were two competitors locally who both were CS companies, but they were related somehow.. It was strange, kind a like a "russan mafia" thing...

    I liked it because I could get stuff at "cost" I remember proudly buying a 166 mhz pentium for "only" $800. Yikes. Aah to be 17 and living with my parents again...

    The boss actually took a liking to me when I wrote a defensive (and successful) letter to the BBB when we had a genuinely unrealistic customer. A few weeks later, he asked me to write another letter based upon a complaint, but I refused, because this person had a legitamite complaint. Sasha then informed me "They you quit!" I said, "No, I'm still working here. If you want me to leave, then you fire me." "NO, YOU QUIT!"

    Anyway, I think I worked for two more days before he actually fired me, which is the only job from which I've ever been canned..

    It's also the only job I've ever had a paycheck refused at a bank.. (and when that happened they paid in cash) But it was fun trying to find people the best deals, and put systems together. I genuinely loved building computers from parts, (still do) and I took pride in talking to people and finding out what they wanted. I'm nostalgic for the big CS book, and that's carried over. I now pride myself on finding the absolute best deals on stuff for friends using froogle/ pricegrabber/ pricwatch/ slickdeals/ techbargains/ half.com/ you name it, but it will never have the nostalgia of pouring over those pages, circling, dogearing, and calculating shipping costs...
    • That was pretty common, these "family-owned" businesses appearing to compete against each other, but in fact working together to corner the local market.

      I remember visiting a computer show some years ago, and seeing 4 different Korean-owned tables appear to compete with each other, with different flyers, different company names, even different prices. But watching them from a distance, you could see them share stock with each other. I realized that they were actually apparently from one extended family a
    • worked for an outfit here in Virginia Beach called "Galaxy Computers" about a decade ago.

      Dude! I still use an old Galaxy Computers 486 under my desk as a server...to this day. The monitor was a total rip (hosed just after the return period) but the box kept on giving. :-)

      The outfit was a little shady, but that box still works.
  • That's thin... The Computer Shopper when I was a kid was probably 2 inches thick if not more.
  • No great loss... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jejones ( 115979 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @10:49AM (#10503789) Journal
    Computer Shopper went down the tubes when Ziff-Davis bought it from Stan Veit, told all the "classic computer" columnists to buzz off, and turned it into a PClone-only rag.

    As has been copiously noted, it lost its only remaining function when it became far easier to get far more up-to-date data on the Web. I'm not sure whether I saved any of the 1000+ page issues from the era when I called it "Deforestation Monthly," but it's sad to see it now at about 170 pages. The date of its demise can't be that far off.
  • Way back in the late 80's up to the mid 90's, when web shopping was non existent or at its infancy and you can only get stuff mostly thru mail order, CS was the Bible. I used to enjoy reading CS cover to cover looking at comparisons of PCs, scanners, hard drives, image editing software, etc. I also enjoyed reading Hard Edge by Alice and Bill in their lab of Doom. Sadly, CS is now but a parody of its former self... made nearly useless by NewEgg, Amazon, etc., on the shopping front and by sites such as AnandT

  • Er ...

    Scratches head and pretends to know who the hell Alice and Bill were, then realises "hmm, don't live in that big country" and wanders off muttering something about Tandy, Radioshack, ZX Spectrums, i386's and rainy weather on a small isle somewhere west of France ...
  • I thought those phonebook sized magazines went out years ago. I knew they were shrinking and shrinking over the years, but I haven't actually seen one in ages. My one claim to fame (sad!) was a letter I had published in Computer Shopper Circa 1989. Something to do with the Atari ST.
  • I haven't had a Computer Shopper magazine come through my gunport *errr* mailslot for several years.

    ...and the only reason it did after they moved to the "skinny version" was because of Alice and Bill. All good things must come to an end, I guess.

  • by nothingtodo ( 641861 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:38PM (#10504883) Homepage
    I remember reading it back in the late 1980s. Page after page of enticing computers and equipment at prices I could not afford! There used to be sections on various models, such as Apple, Atari, and so on. Didnt Don Lancaster write a column in there too? In the back was for sale and wanted sections for computer types listed in alphabetical order most of which are not with us anymore. I enjoyed looking at the Apple // clones and parts available to build your own and I remember a review they had on the Basis-108. There was also lots of BBS numbers to attempt to connect to. I saw some of these old rags in a used bookstore once and wished I bought them just for old times sake.
    • They used to have very good technical articles back then, too, like tutorials on 8088 assembly language using DEBUG as the assembler. That was a truly great geek magazine in the 1980s.

      It became somewhat less technical in the 1990s. Alice & Bill's column was still great, but I really did miss the older more detailed articles in the Tech Section. The magazine remained interesting and useful until the web obsoleted it several years ago.
  • old CS (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Reglar_Joe ( 572530 )
    Not only did I have a sub to both CS and Byte, but I frequented the compuserve CS forum, where Bill talked mostly about his Camaro. My only claim to fame is that I got a letter printed in Hard Edge, detailing my regrets with OS/2, the OS I tried so hard to love.
  • Any future need to read CS.

    Hard Edge was the only decent column in the mag.

    I say you two are better off without that Ragazine.
  • by Alice_Hill ( 821500 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @01:29PM (#10505564) Homepage
    First - thank you to EVERYONE who said they liked the column. We loved doing it and still are reeling from the decision to replace us with a shopping section of products and prices. And to the person who said this news item was done as a cheap ploy to get PayPal donations - we wish! The %$%% site is down. Guess this isn't out month. But thanks to all, and I hope you'll check out Aliceandbill.com. We are funding it ourselves for Hard Edge readers and post every day, so we hope you'll like it. We are also "in talks" with a few mags about a new print home as well, so stay tuned.....Alice Hill
  • Alice and Bill aren't splitting up: they will continue on together at AliceandBill.com, where they write about technology news and will be happy to accept your kind PayPal donation."

    They are also looking for open-minded bi-curious men and women, or swinging couples, for experimentation and BDSM play. Or maybe I dreamt that. Ignore me.

  • Some people seem to think that the advent of the Web caused CS to fade away.

    I think what killed CS was Dell, not the Web. Dell can sell stuff cheaper than any given set of clone makers, and so as dell grew the clone makers shrank, and thus so did CS as the base support of advertisers went under.
  • I recall when the Hard Edge was started by Rich Santalesa and David Harvey. Alice and Bill were fine, but the best work, the first work, of the Hard Edge was done by Rich and Dave.

    Without them, there would have been no Hard Edge.

    Steven
    • Re:Actually (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Alice_Hill ( 821500 )
      That is true, the Hard Edge was named and writted by Rich Santalesa and Dave Harvey. We inherited the column when they left to start a magazine. Rich actually created the whole Shopper "Tech Section" which at the time had great articles on programming, and early pre Web stuff by Steven J. Vaugh Nichols, and of course Stan Veit's great "Whatever happened to..." column. (Stan has been so supportive since this happened.) The Tech Section when I was running it after Rich left was almost 35 pages or almost the e
  • by dtobias ( 262347 ) <dan@tobias.name> on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @02:34PM (#10506281) Homepage
    The evolution (devolution) of Computer Shopper fits the natural way computer magazines have always progressed (regressed), a phenomenon that predates the Internet by many years (I was griping about it as early as 1983 when it happened to the likes of Creative Computing and InfoWorld).

    Normally, computer magazines start out being of, by, and for enthusiasts / hobbyists / "geeks", and are interestingly quirky as a result, but over the years they gradually become more "mainstream", slick, and corporate, with editorial policies dictated by the advertisers (and, specifically, the ones who buy full-page, full-color ads, not mom-and-pop classifieds) rather than the desires of the current readers (the management starts pining after the holy grail of a huge mainstream readership they hope to find if their content can be made more acceptable to Corporate America).

    Usually, they fail to get this mass readership or the big ad dollars it's supposed to produce, so they go out of business in the end; maybe they could have survived if they kept their original format and a budget based on a cult-following audience instead of pipe dreams of something bigger.

The means-and-ends moralists, or non-doers, always end up on their ends without any means. -- Saul Alinsky

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