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© 1997-2006
Gareth Knight
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Commodore User Logo

Commodore User represented an evolutionary step rather than a break away from the magazines past. The first issue of Commodore User, incorporating Vic Computing went on sale in September 1983. The magazine retained the issue number convention of Vic Computing using volume and issue numbers up until the beginning of 1985. Retailing at 85p (10p more than some rivals), the first issue was a 64 page magazine aimed at the more serious side of C64 and Vic-20. The magazine showed many electric influences, as was fashionable at the time.  The 'User' section of the logo was made up of a stream of flowing electricity. Some headings were also italicized, as if they had been hand written.
Tutorials were carried over to the new magazine covering subjects such as animation on the Vic, programming routines, machine code and 6502 assembler. Reviews in the first issue included the Microtrading Hi-Res soundbox (a loudspeaker and amplifier), a C64 word processor called EasyScript, as well as reviews of the Epson FX-90. Games were still absent but would soon appear over the next few months.
The first issues editorial was written by a small staff, consisting of editor Dennis Jarrett, and a writer and editorial assistant. Features were written by a range of contributors, in most cases the readers knew more about the platform than the writers. A fascinating reversal on today's computer industry.
CU October 1983
(Thanks to Phil Guerney for providing the cover of issue 1.)

The first few issues were a time of rapid expansion, increasing from 64 pages to 96 by issue 5, and up to 112 when Volume 2, Issue 1 (October 1984) was released. It then dropped to 92 pages at the beginning of 1985. It was around this time that the magazine got its first minor redesign, shaking off the electric influences from the magazines logo. The issue numbering was also dropped. A move that was unnoticed at the time but soon contributed to a general confusion from readers over the magazines age. Games coverage appeared during 1984, consisting of a 4 page section called Screen Scene. This became a permanent fixture lasting until the magazines death during 1998. Despite the small number of pages, around 15 games were reviewed every month in just a few sentences.
CU February 1985
As 1985 progressed the magazine began to change, Vic-20 reviews fell by the wayside in favour of C64 coverage. The amount of technical knowledge required decreased as the market changed from its home-grown roots to a game orientated one. The pages of Basic listings were reduced and game reviews increased in length including more screen shots. As the circulation rose CU gained full colour throughout most of the magazine.

Redesigned CU logo
The redesign continued during 1986 as the electric design that had so influenced the first few issues was finally shaken off and a new bolder look took its place. It was a time of almost unparalleled success for the C64, with CU's page count increasing to 116 pages and a slight price increase to £1. It had a large back catalogue of software and hundreds of games were also being developed every month. It was towards the latter part of 1986 that the Amiga finally got a look in.
CU October 87 cover
The magazine was at its highest point, reviewing software on all the platforms as Commodore's product range bulged, from the C16, all the up to the Amiga 16-bit wonder. It must be said that covering the Amiga in a Commodore title was not unusual at the time. Zzap! had similar wide-ranging coverage of both the C64 and Amiga. At the time (late 1986- 1988), the market was still relatively unstable, although this was changing with a few short-lived Amiga magazines. Recognizing the changing market, Commodore User altered to reflect the magazines coverage, becoming CU Amiga/64.


View Commodore User carrier bag (78k)


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Last Update: 24/6/2006

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