Surprisingly un-dated, for a 20-year-old technology/futurism magazine
the first issue of Wired Magazine which has been archived online in its entirety at the wired.com website. I was instantly misty-eyed with the thought of it. This issue hit the newsstands for March/April 1993. It featured a Bruce Sterling article on the cover, and its eye-popping cover design ensured that it would catch the wandering eye of a young aspiring cyberpunk like myself.
The biggest surprise, reading this magazine issue which is twenty years old (it's nearly old enough to buy alcohol!) is how contemporary it seems. Maybe it's because the future Wired predicted in 1993 has yet to fully develop, or maybe it's because Wired's outlook was fuzzy enough to allow for a lot of wiggle room. But I read the article about Richard Stallman and, barring what seems like obvious oversights (but were simply events that had not yet come to pass) it could have been written today.
Just skimming the table of contents, the only thing that really stood out to me was the mention of Camille Paglia who is described in the article as the "bad girl of feminism." (Oh how very 1993!) We're still talking about the wasted potential of distributed computing, explaining Moore's Law to one another, and musing over the potential of scanning and electronically archiving every book in the world. And we're still waiting for online college to replace standard in-person public education.
And frankly, although we would no longer put "scare quotes" around the term "morphing," the CGI work in the music video for Michael Jackson's song "Black or White" still looks pretty awesome today.
The only real difference between Wired of 1993 and Wired of today - and I can state this with authority because I happen to have the most recent copy of Wired sitting at my elbow - is that we ourselves are older and more jaded. Wired went through a period a while back where it became a look book of ultra-out-of-reach gadgets and high tech, like a cutting edge version of Sharper Image. Thankfully it has returned to its roots in recent years, and now runs articles on the future that will no doubt be just as un-dated twenty years hence.
It is us who have become more cynical about the future, not Wired. Wired is still there to show us the shiny potential in all of humanity. And if that seems melodramatic… well, 1993 was a melodramatic sort of year!