What I Learnt Today: It was 35 years ago that Creative Computing ceased publication

Yes, it’s exactly what the title says.  David H. Ahl founded Creative Computing magazine, publishing the first issue in October 1974, the last in December 1985.

Today, the internet makes accessing infornation easy, the world at your fingertips.  But in 1974, there were no home computers, only minicomputers and mainframes.  The first personal computer was the Altair 8800, and that was released in December 1974.  Enthusiasts built homebrew computers or used computers at their workplaces or universities.

When Creative Computing was first published, it was the only popular computer culture magazine.  Creative Computing showed there was a market, and others rushed to fill it.  Byte was first published in September 1975, Dr. Dobb’s Journal in January 1976, Call-A.P.P.L.E. in 1978, and others followed as home computers appeared on the market.  It’s possible that only Computer (by the IEEE Computer Society) preceded it, in 1970.

Creative Computing was a mix of articles, source code software and stories.   It didn’t focus on one specific topic or type of computer, since evangelizing (aigh! that word!) computers was the main idea of that era.  Into the 1980s as specific brands and models sold and magazines specialized, Creative Computing ceased to be the only source of information and lost its wider relevance.  But in its day, it was the magazine to have if you were into computers, and helped make personal computing possible.

Archive.org has scans of all the issues, beginning to end.  The University of Pennsylvania library has the last three years scanned in.

Atari Magazine archives also has the issues, plus the first, the second, and the third “Best of Creative Computing” books.

Several other legendary David H. Ahl books are on the Atari Archives, among other titles.  You can download the source code to the games in the books:

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Side note: I found out about this while researching for a bigger item in January.


  1. says

    My first programming efforts involved adding graphics to the version of Lunar Lander that was listed in Creative Computing. That magazine literally changed the course of my life, in a very good way.

    • says

      One of the many games that appeared in CC was John Conway’s Life. I wrote an obituary about him in April 2020 (killed by bleeping COVID-19) but forgot to do a post in August. Conway created Life in August 1970.

      In one interview I saw he said he hated the game for a long time because it overshadowed his other work, but he had come to terms with it. It’s one of those problems and ideas that drove people (hand raised) to learn programming back in the early home computer era.