30 years of Macworld Australia

Jonathan Stewart
9 March, 2015
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30 years, macworld australiaMarch marks Macworld Australia’s 30th anniversary, and to celebrate we are taking a look back at the thoughts of previous editors on the future, Apple’s past and how the magazine came to be.

The Timeline

Australian Macworld was launched with a February-March edition in 1985 and stayed bimonthly until February 1987, save for a bonus issue featuring a software guide in September 1985. That bonus issue reflected the success Australian Macworld had achieved in its first few months in providing a focal point for the local community of early enthusiasts in a year that saw Australian Mac sales triple, while US sales failed to build on what had been achieved there in 1984. Computerworld Pty Ltd (later IDG) had launched Australian Micro Computerworld two years earlier, but in April 1984 had moved closer to the directions of its US parent by launching Australian PC World.

Neville Angove had been hired as technical editor for both Micro and PC World, then promoted to editor of Micro not long before it folded in late 1984. Angove stayed on to become the first editor of Australian Macworld. Chess Wade had joined Micro as associate editor when Angove was promoted and continued in that role with Macworld, eventually taking over as editor for much of 1986. With the rest of the team based in Sydney, Tony Smith in Melbourne had been associate editor of Micro from its launch until partway through 1984, by which time he had become heavily focused on the then brand new Macintosh.

Smith was brought back to play a similar role with Macworld through its first year and a bit, during which the first Australian Macworld Expo – held at Centrepoint, Sydney, from 6 to 9 November 1985 – became a major focus. From the September 1985 special issue a couple of well-known identities from the fledgling Mac industry, David Fox in Sydney and Joe Selvaggi in Melbourne, took over northern and southern region advertising sales, as well as responsibility for selling floor space for Macworld Expo.

Early Days

David Bunnell (left) and then-editor Neville Angove (right) at the first Sydney Macworld Expo.

 

 

They continued in their ad sales roles until mid-1986, after which they left to give more time to their growing distribution businesses, Fox’s InfoMagic and Selvaggi’s Pica. Those departures provided the opportunity for Robert Wells to be recruited as publisher of Australian Macworld (AMW). Following Chess Wade’s departure, Wells became editor and publisher for the December 1986/January 1987 edition before hiring Osmund Lind Iversen to take over as editor for 1987. The Wells and Iversen team finally brought some long-term stability to the masthead.

Iversen remained as editor until the April 1996 issue, when Matthew J C Powell took the reins and Iversen went on to launch
the Australian edition of Publish, a pioneer in computer-to-plate publishing. Powell’s editorship ended in August 1997 when IDG, publisher of Macworld, and Ziff-Davis, US publisher of MacUser, merged their Mac interests in a joint venture called Mac Publishing. With that merger, the two magazines became one under the Macworld masthead. In Australia, publication of Australian Macworld passed from IDG to Niche Media, which had previously published Australian MacUser. Editor Steve Noble ran the title until 2001, when Powell joined Niche to once again take on the editorship.

Powell remained editor until the January 2009 edition, working under associate publisher Nick Harris. Online editor David Braue produced the February issue, and Chris Oaten then came in as editor until the July 2009 edition, when family commitments forced a return to Adelaide. Then Dave Bullard took over. Nick Harris moved on from AMW in October 2009, concentrating on Helinews magazine and handing over the reins to business development manager Liana Pappas.

Liana ended her publisher stint on Macworld Australia in February 2013 moving to a company-wide role, with Dave Bullard filling the void. Grace Robinson and Bullard led the team for a few months until Jonathan Stewart took over the editorship in May 2013. Grace Robinson sadly left due to illness and Bullard continued in the publishing role until he became Niche’s content director in July, overseeing the company’s range of magazines. Madeleine Swain joined the team for 12 months before becoming the editor
of a number of client publications and the Welcome To travel guides.

Joanne Davies, who has worked on and off with Macworld Australia since its IDG inception, assumed the publisher role in August 2014.

Thoughts Of The Time

One of the best things about anniversary issues is looking back on what people were saying at previous milestones. So here are some thoughts by previous editors:

TWENTY YEARS AGO (OSMUND IVERSEN)

“Mac and Newton intelligence is bringing unbundled transparency into other devices: TV sets, vehicles, phones. Provided that – and it’s a strong proviso – the manufacturers agree on a common language, these devices will act together as a very large Macintosh.”

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO (STEVEN NOBLE)

Noble didn’t make any predictions, but waxed lyrical about AMW moving to computer-to-plate (CTP) printing technology. “Today, publishing is being reinvented once more. No, I’m not prematurely predicting the death of print at the altar of the internet. I’m talking of a suite of related technologies that are enabling print to compete in the 21st century.”

TEN YEARS AGO (MATTHEW J C POWELL)

“The box on the desk is gradually moving out of the ‘computer room’ and into the living room. The Mac of the future will be as seamless a part of your home as the TV set and stereo you have now (but won’t need then).”

FIVE YEARS AGO (DAVE BULLARD)

“Soon we’ll have the iPad. Like the iPhone, it simplifies tasks even further and is the most important harbinger of a future in which computing will get easier and easier for the man on the street.

Secondly, cloud computing – in which we work over the internet, with our data stored on the other side of the world – will enter the mainstream. A caveat, though: this will depend on improved security and redundancy, and a lot of public education.

And thirdly, the keyboard will become less relevant as voice recognition becomes better and touchscreens become more widespread.”

Anniversary Covers

 

What’s Happening Today?

“Ten years ago, something happened. Something small. Something most people didn’t notice. But it did touch a few of us. Then a few more. And a few more. And soon that something was spreading in all directions at once. One ripple following another, at a faster and faster pace, each new wave gaining more distance than the last. And the waves keep coming.”

From the back cover of So Far – The First Ten Years of a Vision by Rob Price.

Ten years ago, then editor, Matthew J C Powell ran this quote from 1986. It was the 20th anniversary of Macworld Australia, or Australian Macworld as it was known at the time, and it summed up the beginning of Apple beautifully. I think the quote is even more relevant today.

Apple has shed its minnow tag and is now the all-encompassing juggernaut that many would have not predicted. Its ripples have spread in an incredible number of directions, at an ever-increasing pace and continue to reach new users, new demographics and new levels of usability.

In January, Apple broke all the company’s records with US$74.6 billion in revenue from one quarter. One quarter! It sold 74.5 million iPhones, 23.4 million more iPhones than the same quarter last year.

Apple is moving into the enterprise with its IBM partnership and its iPads; its Macs are now suitable for a variety of users, from accountants to graphic designers to school goers. Its Apple TVs are connecting our lives at home and its Apple Pay solution is moving into the banking sphere. Not to mention the upcoming Apple Watch, the possibilities of HealthKit in health and fitness and the move into home automation with HomeKit.

The Apple brand is as recognisable as Coca-Cola in the Western world and is increasingly being spread throughout the developing world. The move into China has seen significant growth in a once-foreign realm and the income has flowed into the Cupertino coffers. Research and development is being boosted, ecosystems are locking people in and competition for our dollar is at an all-time high.

The future of technology is exciting and connected, but increasingly draining for those outside the tech space or the youth of today. Keeping up with iOS updates can lose people and a tech divide is forming between those who follow magazines like this and those who use a new piece of technology because it has been recommended by a friend, family member or store clerk. The options are greater, but the knowledge seems to be harder to retain by those of previous generations.

As I said, this is an exciting time to work in the technology space, but the speed at which we are moving is leaving some behind.

Timeline

What’s Next?

At every Macworld Australia milestone, the editor sitting in my chair, would be gazing into the future and spinning their crystal ball as fast as they could. Predicting the future is a tough job, as I am finding out.

When you think that the quote from Price was written as Apple Computer sold 8-bit Apple II machines and consider the products and software Apple distributes today, there is a stark difference. And as technology grows exponentially, the next five years will feature products that have not even been imagined yet, let alone realised.

The next known stop on the Apple bus is at Apple Watch Avenue. And it was predicted by former editor Osmund Iversen 20 years ago, as Powell recalled in 2005: “Back in AMW’s 10th anniversary issue, Osmund Iversen editorialised about the demise of computing. He said, in a nutshell, that the view of the computer as ‘a calculator in a metal case’ had to change. He foretold a future of ‘embedded’ devices, in which computing power was distributed amongst handheld devices, wristbands, even jewellery and clothing. Computing intelligence, he predicted, would be everywhere. It hasn’t quite happened, but Osmund was certainly on to something.”

Now, I cannot guarantee that I will predict the biggest Apple product in 2035 – and I won’t even try – but I do have a few predictions. Technology has altered the way we consume media and interact with our fellow man, print is on the way out and screens increasingly dictate our days. In 10 years, HomeKit will be the base of all our Apple interactions. Our phones and our computers will run in sync via our personal cloud-run base station at home providing all of us with 24- hour access to our data and, thanks to HomeKit, our fully-automated homes. Internet limits will allow us to keep all of our data in the cloud, removing the need to store data on our devices. TV will mainly exist in an in-demand form and voice-recognition software will be the main basis of our technological interactions.

I think a nice way to finish is to run one last current quote from Powell, who sums up my thoughts precisely:

“Of course, in 10 years’ time, whoever’s running [Macworld Australia] will probably look back on this and say we got it wrong. I’m intrigued to wonder what the magazine will look like then – if indeed print exists at all in [2025]. In the meantime, we’ve got a lot to cover just keeping up with what’s going to happen to digital media in the next few months. So enough of this fun
– back to work.”

 

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