Commodore Format was produced by Future PLC. These days it’s one of the UK’s largest publishers, with offices in the US and Australia. It’s the official producer of magazines for Sony and Microsoft – and over three decades they have produced a huge array of titles for pretty much every games machine.
But in 1990, it was just five years old. The company was started by Chris Anderson (yes, him from TED!) following his dismissal from ZZAP! 64 publishers, Newsfield. The first title was Amstrad Action – but as Steve Jarratt told us, he was soon keen to take on his old employers with a Commodore 64 magazine of his own.
The first the world knew something was afoot was when issue 89 (July 21 1990) of New Computer Express – Future’s short lived weekly – advertised for a “games reviewer”. Applicants were to contact ex ZZAP! man, Steve Jarratt. But the name of the magazine was not disclosed:
This job would eventually be filled by Andy Dyer, who was hired direct from an insurance company. “He just had so much enthusiasm”, Steve recalls. “We got the impression if he didn’t get the job, he might die”.
THE BIG REVEAL
After an initial period of coyness, all was revealed the next week – when industry publishers and software houses received a fax announcing that Future was launching a magazine for the Commodore 64. The public first knew on July 28th, when New Computer Express issue 90 printed this little piece of history – the first ever mention of Commodore Format:
The C64 column of New Computer Express flagged up the exciting new magazine, too, with editor Steve Jarratt asking for readers’ help:
The magazine went into production, with first the 13th, then 20th September penned in for issue one (this accounts for the fluctuating dates on the various advertisements!). During the creation of the first issue, CF deputy editor Sean Masterson also took over New Computer Express‘ C64 column. The crossover worked well, with Sean repeatedly able to plug his beloved new magazine (“I’ll keep quiet if you buy it”):
AND SO AWAY IT WENT…
The summer 1990 issues of Future Publishing magazines Your Sinclair, Amstrad Action, New Computer Express and ST Format all carried promotions for CF, which you can see in the gallery below. Make sure to check out the captions, which explain the early mock up covers. The third advert in the set is from December 1990’s Amiga Format. CF was three issues old by that point, and the already famous covertape had a box! CF
AND FINALLY…CAN YOU HELP?
The only thing we’re missing is a copy of the press release sent to software houses and Guardian Media announcing Commodore Format’s arrival. If you can help us out, hit “contact” at the top of the page.