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See you online!

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on December 28, 2007
(Issue 2552, New Ways to Dream)

It's not goodbye, but it's still a bit awkward.

This is the last-ever print edition of ComputorEdge, which began life in May 1983 as The Byte Buyer. That's a heck of a run in an industry where most publications never see their third anniversary. It's a run that saw the tiny local magazine outlast the once-mighty Byte magazine, which threatened a lawsuit if The Byte Buyer didn't change its name. It's a run that saw two of its editors leave to become best-selling authors – Dan Gookin writing "DOS for Dummies" and Andy Rathbone "Windows for Dummies."

During the 1990s, ComputorEdge co-sponsored the San Diego Computer Expo, first at Golden Hall and then at the San Diego Convention Center, where the annual event grew so large it was renamed the California Computer Expo. At its height, the expo drew tens of thousands each year to see the latest in computer and gaming gizmos and software and rivaled the Comic-Con in size and geek appeal.

But times change, and nowhere as fast as in the computer industry.

Atari and Commodore are both long out of business, San Diego's Computer Museum of America closed shop a few years back, and the San Diego Computer Society (which began the San Diego Computer Expo before partnering with ComputorEdge to grow it) is a shadow of its former self.

And when we go online today, it's to surf the Web or play games.

When The Byte Buyer first began publication, if you wanted to go online, you either used a dial-up subscription service like CompuServe or you found a local dial-up bulletin board system, or BBS.

History of this column

It was Gookin who began this column, I believe as San Diego On-Line, just a few years after the magazine's founding. Dan was an enthusiastic member of quite a few of the BBSs springing up around town as modems got both faster and cheaper. From the mid-'80s to the early '90s, when the government-run Internet was made public and Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web took off, San Diego's online community grew from a couple dozen BBSs to several thousand.

As the number of local BBSs grew in the late '80s, it outgrew Gookin's ability to write on a regular basis. The magazine was only published every other week back then, but even so, Gookin hired Jim Kimball to write it. Scott Penrose followed Kimball, and then my predecessor, Ron Dippold.

During its original incarnation, the column's name changed from San Diego On-Line to On-Line San Diego to Online San Diego.

I took over in May 1993, and wrote it for three years. (I remember when I got the check for the first month's worth of columns, going with my wife to an Atari shop in Chula Vista and laying out $100 for a Star-brand dot matrix printer so I could print the columns out faster than on the old daisy wheel printer I had been using.)

Brad Fikes then wrote it for a year before I took it back for another year. Donna Woodka then wrote it for a few years before the name was retired and the column recast in its present form focused on the Web.

I took over the Hot on the Web in August of 2000 and have held this chair since.

The future

Beginning next week, ComputorEdge will be an online-only publication. Jack Dunning, founder and publisher of ComputorEdge, hasn't shared his reasons for the change with me, but anyone who picks the magazine up each week can see how much slimmer it's grown over the past couple of years. Anyone who drives around town can see how many fewer independent computer dealers there are. And it's those independent shops that have been ComputorEdge's advertisers. Pressure from Fry's, Best Buy and other large national retailers have changed the computer marketplace, and a magazine like this is hardly immune to those changes.

As part of the changes, ComputorEdge will no longer be able to pay for submissions.

For those of us who write for Jack, this has not been any better news that it has been for Jack, whose livelihood is the magazine.

Still, if no longer able to write on a weekly basis, I will continue to write the column every month, starting next week. (And if there have been weeks you've read this column and wondered if I hadn't just run out of ideas, once a month may be just about often enough for you!)

We'll still cover the latest trends affecting the online world, from legislation to economic trends, new software to entirely new applications. And I'll still have the archive of old columns (including Online San Diego columns I'm still slowly re-typing in) at

The biggest change for me will be that ComputorEdge's own future will be part of the story we're telling in this space.

See you next week at