Byte Magazine, August 1981

byte cover.jpg
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20 Responses to Byte Magazine, August 1981

  1. dmoisan says:

    I best remember Smalltalk not through Byte, which I did read (and do remember that cover) but through Creative Computing, which was Byte’s rival in many ways. Their article on Smalltalk was the best that magazine had ever done, and it’s not online, a pity.

    P.S. On Tinney, I remember the “Borg Cube” art he did for the cover of a Digikey catalog (an electronic parts distributor). Kicking myself for not keeping it. (“Resistance is futile. Capacitance is irrelevant.”)

  2. zikman says:

    I want that.
    really bad.

  3. jphilby says:

    OOP still smells as funny as it did then.

  4. shaunxcode says:

    this NEEDS to be scanned in for posterity. I am trying to source a copy on ebay. If that fails I’ll check it out from a college library or something.

  5. MaggieL says:

    It is indeed a Robert Tinney cover.

    And while the balloon is a reference to the PARC launch, the castle in an island is a reference to an earlier Tinney cover depicting a landscape carved into domains for the various programming languages.

    Mr. Tinney is still around:

  6. Tim Coffey says:

    I read that magazine cover-to-cover numerous times in the university library when it appeared. I was a young computer science student at the time. I couldn’t believe that such things like Smalltalk were even possible. I have been enamored with object oriented languages, and Smalltalk in particular, ever since.

  7. tim says:

    The balloon idea came from Dan Ingalls as a metaphor for Smalltalk flying away from the ivory tower that had been depicted in a previous Byte language special edition as the mysterious Island of Smalltalk, just off the edge of Pascal’s Triangle. See
    Somewhere I have a picture of a balloon tethered at the site of a PARC picnic with a large Smalltalk banner tied around it.

    There are a number of copies of TInney’s artwork in existence as Byte did a 500 copy edition.(×14/14.htm) I have one signed by most of the creators(Kay, Goldberg, Ingalls, Krasner, Tesler, Robson etc) and I think I know someone with a couple of dozen stored away somewhere safe. The rights to the artwork were bought by ParcPlace some years ago and placed in the public domain. New posters are available at Unfortunately I have no idea where the high quality jpg I know must exist can be found.

    And in case anyone is under any illusions, Smallktalk is still a live language 40 years after Alan Kay starting digging the foundations with his PhD thesis. And it is important to remember that –
    C++ is Smalltalk history repeated as tragedy.
    Java is Smalltalk history repeated as farce.

    tim Rowledge, emeritus manager of Smalltalk Development ;-)

  8. zuzu says:

    Objects are the shadow of what Actors are.”

    c.f. The Early History of Smalltalk

  9. Spocko says:

    I did some work for Xerox and PARC for awhile. At one time they had a working color laser printer that was years ahead of anything else. I tried to get it out of the lab and into the hands of the public. I was told it would never see the light of day because of internal conflicts about which PDL to use and which color theories would prevail. I tried, but the forces aligned against marketing success were too massive.

  10. Milton says:

    Amazing. I still have maybe two issues of Byte, and that’s one of them. The cover is beautiful.


  11. Technically, this was for the release of Smalltalk-80, the first version to be made public outside Xerox. Smalltalk itself goes back to 1971.

  12. Hard at Work says:

    Best programming language ever!

  13. marc rettig says:

    I still have that issue in a box somewhere. It had a huge effect on me, not just because I (much) later spent part of my life coding Smalltalk (including Smalltalk/V — hi notacat), but because it gave me early exposure to the way of thinking that underlies object-oriented programming.

    At the time I was studying linguistics by night and by day writing mainframe programs in PL/1. The Smalltalk issue showed me a bridge between linguistics and programming, which to this day continues to inform my understanding of semantic representations in software, how to do good interaction design, and how to connect people’s minds to machine minds.

    I still remember the feeling of excitement over that issue of Byte. Thanks for the dose of cognitive nostalgia!

  14. dculberson says:

    Man, a balloon launch for a programming language. The computer industry needs to be more like that again.

  15. Wim L says:

    Looks like it might be a Robert Tinney cover, even. I always liked his stuff. I think he went on to do covers for DDJ or someone when BYTE became more of a boring business-oriented magazine.

  16. NotACat says:

    I used to work for Smalltalk Express. We distributed Smalltalk/V in the UK and used that balloon as our logo.

    Heady days. One of our guys, the redoubtable Tim Rowledge, ported Smalltalk to the ARM. I learned more from just listening to him than from any number of books.

  17. shaunxcode says:

    I have not managed to acquire a copy of the issue to scan in yet, but after some googling and way-backing I discovered:

  18. tom frog says:

    I kept two copies of Byte: that one and the Macintosh introduction.

    I was trying desperately to get permission from management to introduce OOP to our development shop, only to get the response that our customers would never allow us to use a ‘risky, not commercially proven’ language. So I used the concepts described in this issue to implement a framework in C that supported message passing with dynamic binding, persistence and polymorphism…

    Brings back memories.

  19. Miles Archer says:

    Man, I’m getting old. I remember that cover and wondered what all the fuss was about. All I wanted at the time was to figure out to write video games (and, well, figure out how to kiss a girl too)

  20. imcampos says:

    I first learned about Smalltalk with this issue of Byte. I later bought the two Adele Goldberg books and the Smalltalk V interpreter. soon enough I started teaching a fairly successful (in the sense that students liked it) course on object oriented programming at UFMG in Brazil. Kudos for PARC and for Smalltalk.

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