Dennis Publishing’s long-running weekly magazine, Micro Mart, logs off for the last time
The Commodore 64 computer: everyone’s must-have machine when Micro Mart began publication in November 1985. Image by Mikael Hjerpe (via Shutterstock).
Micro Mart, one of the final bastions of the 1980s computer scene, ceased publication at the close of last year. The weekly magazine, latterly published by Felix Dennis’ Dennis Publishing, started life as a computer equivalent of Exchange and Mart. In later years, the magazine offered a wealth of articles on home computing subjects, from Windows 10 to Linux distros. The small ads, as years advanced, played a lesser role.
Micro Mart was launched in November 1985 as Micro Computer Mart. Early editions were printed in mono on newsprint on a fortnightly basis. It was independently owned by Fiona and Stewart Somerville, and Roy Perrin as Micro Mart (UK) Ltd. In 1995, it was sold to the Daily Mirror’s future owners, Trinity Publishing. The magazine became a weekly publication in 1991.
In its time, it has outlived notable magazines for 8, 16, and 32 bit computer formats. Such as Zzap! 64, Your Sinclair and Amiga Format. When Micro Computer Mart was launched, there was countless computer formats to choose from. The ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 were highly popular. BBC Model ‘B’ microcomputers were the norm in classrooms. Both the Atari ST and the Amiga formats were in their infancy as was Microsoft Windows. Back then, PCs meant 5.25 inch floppy drives and really expensive machines for business users.
Micro Mart rose at around the same time when IBM compatible PCs were affordable for home users. Responding to this trend, there was fewer classified ads and more tutorials. Features would follow for Windows and Linux users. In later years, retro gaming, covering newly released C64 games in the noughties. Till its demise, it was the last British computer magazine to offer regular coverage for the Amiga – over twenty years after Commodore’s demise.
After Trinity Mirror began its cost cutting drive, the title was sold to Dennis Publishing in 2005. By then, its unique position was challenged by similar glossier magazines like Computer Active. Ultimately the internet played a part in its downfall, but Micro Mart wasn’t alone. Many gamers and computer users go to web forums or dedicated websites. Reading a glossy magazine about your desired computer format is a lost art.
One thing for sure is we’ll never the like of Micro Mart again, ever. The small ads pages in your local newspaper isn’t the first place we turn to for secondhand goods. eBay and Craig’s List saw to that. We no longer need to wait a week or a month for the latest developments in the world of home or business computing. We live in an age where a story created 12 hours ago (or six even) seems like yesterday’s news.