I'm fanatical about Rolling Stone Cover to Cover: The First 40 Years. It's got every issue on three DVDs and works with Windows and Mac.
Once you install the reader application, searches are fast. They're even faster if you copy the DVDs to your internal hard drive. (You're not allowed to copy them to an external hard drive, which is a bummer, because I have a 100 GB external hard drive that is just waiting to be filled with something like this.) The first disc contains the print run from 1967 to 1983, which is pretty much all I care about, so I copied that one over to my internal drive.
It's fun to search on terms to see when they first appeared in Rolling Stone. "Punk Rock" made its debut in 1973 (though it was about garage punk, not the punk rock that began in 1975). An October 1977 article by Charley Walters called "Punk: Pretty Vacant Music" is the first to mention The Clash. (Walters has good things to say about The Clash, but dismisses punk rock music in general as "overly simplistic and rudimentary. It's also not very good.")
Hunter S. Thompson's first article for Rolling Stone (October 1970) is an exuberant, drug-fueled 12,000 word account of his nearly-successful run for Sheriff of Aspen, Colorado.
The magazine got its first taste of MDMA on Decemeber 19, 1985 in Gary Wolf's article "Don't Get Wasted, Get Smart!" in 1991 P.J. O'Rourke's "Tune In. Turn On. Go to the Office Late on Monday." (Thanks, Jack!)
Boing Boing didn't show up until February 22, 2007 ("a must click resource for budding futurists since it broke news of the Segway personal transport in 2001").
It's also fun to simply browse through the early issues and admire its zine-like design.
I'm still just beginning to understand the awesomeness of having a searchable complete run of Rolling Stone at my fingertips. If I'm not answering my email or phone calls, you'll know why. Link
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects