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I've seen some scary magazine covers in my time (EGM whenever they covered a Resident Evil game, for example), but I think I may have found a new all-time scary-cover champion in the April 1984 edition of British mag Your Computer.

The cover story is about a suite of software that teaches you languages through mnemonics like the one pictured ("monkey" is "mono" in Spanish). Magazine conventional wisdom says that having the cover subject look directly at the viewer helps attract people's attention on the newsstand, but this is ridiculous. And what's that thing sitting on the middle of the keyboard? A raisin? That better be a raisin.

I've always wanted a few physical copies of Your Computer for my collection because being the most popular multiplatform PC mag of the time in the UK (its ABC figure for the second half of 1983 was 122,642 copies, making it more popular than even most US computer mags back then), it is a perfect snapshot of the utterly chaotic European computer marketplace of the early 80s.

Despite being late spring/summer issues, both books I have are over 200 pages and packed with advertisements from literally every major player in hardware, software and games at the time, including many from big Euro players that hardly (if ever) existed in the US like Sinclair, Amstrad, Memotech, and Acorn Computers.

(Then there are odd surprises, like an ad from Renault that promises a free Sinclair ZX Spectrum if you buy their new sedan. Considering a Spectrum went for £99 new at the time, this was really not much of a deal.)

Contentwise, Your Computer is probably most similar to COMPUTE! in the US, although with a traditional British design of multiple columns per page marching all the way down to the margins and lots of interstitial artwork. The mag can be cleanly divided into two parts -- one with letters and hardware/software reviews, and one with lots and lots of program listings.

If you thought COMPUTE! had a lot of BASIC listings circa 1983, it has nothing on Your Computer -- there's a good dozen in every issue for all kinds of different computer platforms. The mag is somewhat infamous in the UK for publishing listings that didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of working, even after one or two corrections printed in future issues, a problem exacerbated by really tiny program printouts and a lack of any automatic-proofreader program like every US mag had by this time.

Nearly every program includes a notice from the author that he'll send you a cassette with the software for two or three pounds to save you the trouble of typing, and I can't help but wonder if many submitters made more money this way than through the standard £35/page rate Your Computer claimed to pay.

(I am through with typing in BASIC listings for now, but judging by the screens, some of these games are pretty good -- there's a Commodore 64 Pac-Man clone that looks rad but is made of a massive ocean of hex code that scares me.)

Your Computer's heyday was in 1983-84, before the computer-industry slowdown of '84 and the advent of platform-specific computer and game mags in the UK took away much of its audience.

Its last issue was in 1988, by which time mags like Your Sinclair and Zzap!64 were easily outselling it. As a resource on what the UK's "wild west" computing era was like, though, I can't think of anything better than this one.

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a site for collectors and fans of old video-game and computer magazines. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots and lots of publishers and game companies.]