The awesome, though seemingly under-appreciated site, Atari Mania, has hand-scanned (a lot of f***ing work I might add) versions of the entire 43 issue series of the UK-based Atari User magazine. This is of special interest to USA-Based Atari 8-bit computer fans because just as the 8-bit range was dying here, it was seeing a large resurgence in the UK (circa 1985).
These issues of Atari User Magazine have a unique perspective and a slightly different focus than the Antic, Analog, and Atari Explorer 8-bit dedicated magazines from the USA. For example they tend to give hard sales numbers and focus on the industry as a whole in their editorials. Not that Antic (for example) didn’t do this to some extent, but I remember searching far and wide for this type of information in the USA-based publications and coming up short most of the time.
Like its American cousins though, there is plenty of 8-bit coverage with the “gathering storm” of ST related editorial beginning to rear its head even in the beginning issues. They never waver from the 8-bit though and it is very interesting to see the progression in coverage until the final issues in late 1988 – just as the Atari ST was storming through the UK and beyond (not yet realizing they were about to be pummeled by an Amiga wallop, but that was a year or two out).
From reading these final issues, the decision to finally compete on even game-playing terms with The Amiga by releasing the powerful STE range was far too late in the game to have any significant impact. The advent of the cheaper and more powerful consoles (such as the Megadrive/Genesis) certainly helped seal the coffin on both the 8-bits and the ST range with extra magical wax.
During the later years a “pull-out” section called “Atari ST User” was included to dedicate coverage to the new line of 16-bit computers. This was very much like how the USA-based “Start” magazine begin inside issues of Antic magazine. The Atari ST User name would be sold to “Page 6” to be used in a dedicate Atari ST User Magazine, simply called “Atari ST User”.
Back to the 8-bits, one very interesting thing about these magazines is the sheer number of UK-based game titles that I had never heard of for the 8-bit range. Atarimania has rom/exe/and disk versions of most Atari 8-bit software, so I found myself digging into my emulator and loading up a few gems that I had just learned about. Maybe I’ll make an HTML5 or AS3 version of one of them if I find the time.