bOING bOING: free collection from the print zine, 1989-1997

Twenty-three years ago, my wife Carla and I came up with the idea to create bOING bOING, a zine that would cover comic books, cyberpunk science fiction, consciousness technology, curious phenomena, and

whatever else surprised and delighted us. That zine, which ran for 15 issues until 1997, evolved into the very website you're reading right now.

The first few issues of Boing Boing had print runs in the low hundreds, and the biggest was 17,500 copies. Today, the blog easily gets that many page views in an hour, so it's safe to say that the vast majority of Boing Boing readers have never read anything that appeared in those early zines. Today we're happy to announce that we've made available a free anthology of some of our favorite interviews from bOING bOING, the zine. You can access it for free with Microsoft’s Office Web Apps on SkyDrive, whose sponsorship has made this project possible.

The anthology, called bOING bOING: History of the Future! is a collection of interviews with and articles by some of our favorite writers and thinkers - Robert Anton Wilson, Rudy Rucker, William Gibson, Kevin
Kelly, Marc Laidlaw, and Bruce Sterling.

In the coming weeks, we'll be running posts about the articles included in the bOING bOING: History of the Future anthology. The first piece in the new issue is an interview with author William Gibson, whose novel Neuromancer introduced me to the fantastic cyberpunk science fiction genre.

 1373 1075687938 00B97739C2 When I printed the first issue of Boing Boing in 1989, I located William Gibson's mailing address and sent him a copy. He wrote back with a complimentary letter, and I added him to the subscription list. I always appreciated receiving his occasional postcards, and reading interviews with him in other magazines where he mentioned bOING bOING as a zine he enjoyed.

bOING bOING's interview with William Gibson ran in bOING bOING #12 (cover at left) and was published in 1993 or 1994. In the interview, Gibson was asked if he thought the technology he'd envisioned in the 1980s would soon manifest itself in the real world. He said, "I don't think we're going to see anything too drastic happening culturally around computers until the user-interface evolves to the point where it's easy to use. I mean when you say 'hey, I do a lot of e-mail' or 'hey, I hang out on the Internet' -- the reason that has a kind of elite buzz to it, is that the learning curve is still too steep."

In addition to this entertaining interview, bOING bOING #12 contained a two-page comic strip about the legal battle between Margaret and Walter Keane, who painted those famous big-eyed sad kids.

The document is in Microsoft Word format and you can view it for free with Office Web Apps on SkyDrive whether you have Word on your computer or not. And if you'd like to download it for local perusal or printing and don't have a recent version of Microsoft Word or one of the many other applications that can open the document, you can use the free Word Viewer for Windows or Quick Look built into Mac OS X .

The History of the Future! A free anthology of articles from the bOING bOING print 'zine 1989-1997 (SkyDrive)


  1. Oh thank you thank you thank you! My collection vanished several moves ago. This is wonderful!

  2. My three favorite mags- boing boing, wired, and option- subscribed to them from the first issue on, they’re still packed away somewhere in the attic! It was a great when all three showed up in the same week…

  3. I still have all my copies of the print Boing Boing sitting on my bookshelf, it is pretty fun as an artifact for remembering the feeling of the early 90s and the rise of the Internet as a major part of the world. :)

  4. Ah, bOING bOING and Mondo 2000 were where it was. I remember, as a (then) darkwave DJ, how impressed I was with the goth issue. Ah, the wacky cyberpunkish 90s. I’m going to go drink some Jolt, take some smart drugs, and do some serious art damage while listening to Negativland.

  5. So cool to see where Boing Boing began! Thanks to Microsoft for making this possible, first Skype then the bOING bOING zine! Bravo Mr. Ballmer, you’ve had a good week.

  6. Note that, as mentioned in the original post, you do not need Microsoft Word to view this. Just click the file on SkyDrive and it will open in the web version of Word just fine, in pretty much any browser on any platform you may fancy.

  7. Ah, the heady days of print Boing Boing. Thank you, guys, for warping my mind as a 13-ish year old.

  8. Excellent! I understand you posted a Word file to satisfy your sponsors (and I have no problem with this), but I’m wondering if there is any actual benefit to posting a Word file rather than a pdf file?

    I’m just thankful it doesn’t require Silverlight!

  9. “See, before the Internets, blogs were called ‘zines’ …” Thanks for the lookback — and the early lookforward!

  10. Heh. I was going to post a pdf of this, but I see someone’s beat me to it.

    Very cool. I’ve managed to find some issues of the zine on ebay but only a few. (so far I have 5,7,11 and 12, and they tend to go for $10-20)

  11. Does anyone have any information on the little green alien figure featured on the cover of the May 2011 ‘Special Issue’? It seems to have the initials ‘M.F.’ inscribed on it.

  12. AH! My collection had fallen off the back of a friend’s Vespa, sometime in the late 90s….

  13. Thanks for the PDF, anon!

    I mean, come on, a Word document. Kind of funny, actually. For a moment.

  14. Wish I had a complete collection, but I’m pleased I have as many of the originals as I do.

    I wish Beyond Cyberpunk would run on my iMac. The online version is not as cool.

  15. Geez. Counter culture reduced to sucking at the teat of Microsoft for a distribution. Just out of principle I refuse to read it, let alone having to suffer MS Word – scanned imaged embedded into an MS Word file?

  16. (tsdguy): “Counter culture reduced to sucking at the teat of Microsoft for a distribution. Just out of principle I refuse to read it, let alone having to suffer MS Word – scanned imaged embedded into an MS Word file?”

    Took the words… And what a surprise and a disappointment, from BoingBoing no less!

  17. Was it a matter of distribution, or did BB profit by letting M$ borrow some of their cred?

    1. fewz, it’s right there in TFA: [Microsoft’s] sponsorship has made this project possible.

  18. “Chesterfield: fewz, it’s right there in TFA: [Microsoft’s] sponsorship has made this project possible.”

    Chesterfield, that’s marketing-speak boilerplate, and, you assume I didn’t already see that.

    It still doesn’t answer this question, though the actual reason is pretty pointless: “Was it a matter of distribution, or did BB profit by letting M$ borrow some of their cred?”

    The implication, to take the boilerplate statement at face value, is that we wouldn’t even be seeing this offer, had M$ not funded it, or some part of it. Which seems questionable. I’m sure in May of 2011, BB can easily afford the scanning and publication costs/efforts.

    Of all the small businesses that would’ve gladly undertaken the same effort, in scanning, formatting, and hosting the download in exchange for a plug, BB chose M$.

    It still begs the question; why M$? And still, what a disappointment. THE worse promoter of proprietary file formats and vendor lock-in.

  19. I also surprised we can even view the converted web version in any browser, as opposed to only IE.

    The real payload here, is the promotion of M$’s docx format and web display of the same: “for free at Microsoft’s Office Web Apps SkyDrive”

    I suspect that M$ contacted BB, in an effort to buy some promo for their web/doc competitor to Google’s. Some “hip cred” promotion, which is simply smart marketing on M$’s part.

    Still disappointed to see BB cooperate. They took the pay-off from M$, didn’t they?

  20. zines! brings me back. awesome to get a look at bOING bOING’s roots, happy that BB was finally able to make this happen, and put it in the cloud (with SkyDrive) no less. To think, when they first wrote this the cloud was just a visible mass of water droplets!

  21. Just thought I’d point out, for those whining about it being a Word doc, and proprietary formats ‘n’ all, it opened up perfectly on my iPhone, which also allowed me to download it into my documents folder in Airsharing, where I can read it at my leisure, irrespective of network connections, etc.
    Thank you boingboing, I’ve really only recently discovered your wonderful blog, in fact since I picked up Cory’s book ‘Little Brother’, and it’s become an indispensable part of my web-life, so it’s great to see where it came from. I have little time for MS, but anything that gets stuff like this out into the greater public domain is fine by me.

  22. This looks awesome, Mark! And thank you to all y’all Boing Brains for posting about our Plazm campaign on BB today… within an hour, someone donated $1,111 and won my copy of Boing Boing #1 in print. i will be terribly sorry to see it go… but i’ll have this new anthology, at least… xoxo magtif

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