Back in the mid 90’s, when I was studying for my BTEC diploma in computer studies, one of the first computer magazines that I began to purchase on a monthly basis was Personal Computer World (or PCW as it was also known). At that time it was a pretty large tome, with each edition spanning out to a good couple of hundred pages. I was impressed with the number of reviews, news, articles and tips and tricks which were presented by technical writers such as Gordon Laing and Barry Fox. In the back pages, I would often read the programming section, which helped me start off Visual Basic coding – where each month a different topic was discussed, such as accessing the file system from VB, reading registry keys, etc.
One thing that stood out most about PCW was the diverse topics which were included in the back pages, such as a monthly column on mathematics. Now, I don’t recall off the top of my head what exactly was discussed in that column, but I can’t think of another magazine at the time (or since) that offered such as section. I thought it was pretty cool, regardless of the fact that I understood very little of it!
Over time I bought the magazine less and less, to a point when I stopped buying it entirely. This wasn’t a decision I made point blank, it just kind of happened organically. A couple of years ago I was browsing through PCW in my local Tesco; I noticed how the magazine had suffered the decline like many other computer magazines – not as much content (I think it barely reached 100 pages). It still had many reviews and such, but it just didn’t feel quite as “heavy” as it did in the 90’s. It felt there was something missing. Even so, it came as a bit of a surprise that in the summer of 2009 I noticed that my local Tesco didn’t seem to be stocking PCW anymore. A recent search on Google lead me to this page. Here Gordon Laing give his postmortem on PCW and why it died off.
This is a real shame. Yes, I wasn't buying the magazine each month, but still, I felt like an old friend had vanished forever (over the top I know, but you know what I mean :) Other mags such as PC Pro don’t feel like they give the same value as PCW did. PCW does still exist on the web, but it’s publishing days are well and truly over :(.