May 24, 2017
David Ahl and Betsy Ahl, Creative Computing
Dave Ahl was the founder and editor-in-chief of Creating
Computing Magazine, which was the first personal computer magazine.
Four editors served in the first six years: Dave Ahl, Steve
Gray, John Craig, and Ted Nelson. Betsy Staples (now Betsy Ahl)
then took over for the rest of its run. Creative Computing was
published starting in November 1974, was acquired by Ziff Davis in
1983, and ceased publication in December 1985.
In addition to Creative Computing, Dave and Betsy published a
variety of other magazines including Sync (dedicated to the Timex
Sinclair computers), Microsystems, Small Business
Computers, and Creative Computing Video & Arcade Games
Magazine. They also released a record album -- First Philadelphia
Computer Music Festival (1979), a board game called Computer Rage,
and software for a variety of platforms under the Creative
Computing Software label. Dave was author of BASIC Computer Games,
the first million-selling computer book; plus its sequel, more
BASIC Computer Games, and many other early computer books.
After Creative Computing, Dave was publisher and
Betsy was editor of Atari Explorer magazine for five years and
he started Atarian magazine in 1989. Later, he published Military
This interview took place on April 3 and 4, 2013, when I was
doing research for a book about the first personal computer
magazines. Although I've decided not to write the book, I am
publishing the interviews that I did for them. The other major
interview was with Wayne Green: there's a link to that interview in
the show notes.
The first part of the interview took place in the bar at the
Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon. (There's some ambient
background noise and music — remember, this recording was meant to
be my notes for a book, so a little background noise wasn't an
issue.) The second part of the interview was recorded in my dining
room, a much quieter atmosphere.
The day before this was recorded, Dave and Betsy attended a
grand opening get-together of tech luminaries at the Living
Computer Museum in Seattle, Washington. This event is mentioned
several times during the interview.
A full transcript of this interview is available at ComputingPioneers.com
there are many links to related articles, interviews, and magazine
scans in the show notes at AtariPodcast.com
Teaser quote: "When I started Creative Computing, I mean there
weren't even personal computers at that point. I was convinced, I
guess, that they would come about. I had no idea that it would be
three months later that the Altair came about."
Outro music: Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag, played on an RCA
COSMAC by Joe Welsbecker on the First Philadelphia Computer Music
Festival record (1979.)