Page 6 Magazine started off as the newsletter of Birmingham User
Group (BUG), an independent club of around 100 Atari computer enthusiasts
met regularly in Birmingham, England during the 1980s [read how it
started here]. Les Ellingham was appointed 'Newsletter Editor' by the group, but rather than limit
the scope to a localised bulletin, Les decided to embark on production
of a magazine that would be of interest to all Atari owners. After considerable effort by Les and
his wife Sandy, the very
first issue of Page 6 was launched in December 1982.
Such was the positive response to Issue 1 that Les decided to
continue running the magazine as an independent entity, whilst still
keeping close ties with BUG. Page 6 was initially published under the
organisational title of ABACUS - 'Around Britain Atari Computer Users
Society' although this was later dropped in favour of 'Page 6
Publishing'. In late 1983 Atari Corporation's own
Input/Output' magazine featured an article about Page 6, including a
photo of Les Ellingham proudly holding issue 4 [it's reproduced here].
magazine was published on a bi-monthly basis and continued to expand
and improve with each issue. As more Atari owners discovered and
subscribed to the magazine, and supported by a modest array of
advertisers, Les was able to invest in enhancements to the paper, printing, and design quality. Page 6 Publishing diversified into other forms of Atari support -
the "Accessory Shop" was established to supply dust covers,
books, blank disks, software and other extras. The Page 6 public
domain library provided a growing collection of specially compiled
disks, with the emphasis on quality rather than quantity. Later, Page
6 obtained various items of commercial software to re-sell at bargain
prices, and even re-published a few titles on its own label -
including Transdisk IV,
Tari Talk and
Mini Office II.
With the launch of Atari's 16-bit ST machines in 1985, regular ST
coverage was introduced into the magazine. In Issue
24, the ST pages were given their own identifiable section under
the title "STAGE". An ST
Library was formed,
which eventually offered many hundreds of unique public domain software
Page 6 hit the big-time in 1987 when Issue
29 was launched into the mainstream newsagent distribution channels.
By now the magazine had expanded to 82 pages each issue, with increased
use of internal colour and a professional layout. Contributors
who had previously submitted work for free were now paid for their
articles and programs. Nevertheless, Page 6 succeeded in retaining its
'enthusiast' community style.
Back in mid-1985 Les had been approached by Database Publications,
who already produced magazines for several popular computer formats, and asked whether
he would like to be the Editor of a new magazine for the 8-bit Atari. Les politely
declined the offer in favour of continuing Page 6 - and consequently gained a
competitor in the form of Database Publications' colourful Atari
User magazine. In late 1988 Database Publications had a shake-out of their less popular titles and decided to close
down Atari User - the last issue was Vol 4, No 7. Les
stepped in and bought the rights to Atari User and its subscriber list to
merge with Page 6 - although little of Atari User's style and content
were actually retained (no bad thing, some would say).
From Issue 36 Page 6 became 'Page 6 Atari User'
but this caused confusion in newsagents who thought both magazines had
ceased publication, so the title was changed again in Issue
38 to 'New Atari User'.
Ultimately, proprietary home computer formats lost out in favour of
the IBM compatible PC. As Atari popularity inevitably tailed off in the
1990s, it was necessary to reduce the production costs of New Atari
User. This was achieved by reverting to the original
subscription only method of distribution, and by dropping some of the expensive embellishments such as
With Issue 60 in
February 1993, Page 6 Publishing was able to celebrate its tenth
anniversary of magazine publishing - no minor achievement in the
volatile world of home computer magazines. In December 1995, Issue
69, a decision was taken to cut production costs further by 'downsizing'
the magazine into an A5 booklet format. The number of subscribers was
eroding, and the magazine struggled to remain viable. New
Atari User continued publication in the A5 format, albeit with increasingly
irregular gaps between issue dates, until the final Issue 85
in Autumn 1998. There was no official 'goodbye' since Les had good
intention to publish a few more
issues. Sadly, due to financial constraints, they would never transpire.
Page 6 is remembered fondly by
many Atari owners as a unique
and invaluable resource, supporting true enthusiasts in the heyday of
Atari home computing.
The term 'Page 6' has a special significance in 8-bit Atari
The Atari's random access memory is structured in groups of 256
bytes, each known as a 'page'. Page 6 represents the memory locations
1536 to 1791, which are not used by the operating system or
inbuilt Atari BASIC. This means Page 6 can be used for machine language
subroutines, redefined character sets or indeed any data users wish to
store in the space.
In other words, Page 6 is a valuable resource for Atari computer
users. And a fitting title for the magazine.
This site has been designed and
constructed by Paul Rixon, who
a regular Page 6 contributor from issue 29 onwards. Contact.