Mondo 2000 retrospective in Wired – UPDATED

When I saw my first issue of "Reality Hackers" — at a bookstore I was working at in high-school — I knew I wanted to keep reading this magazine, and made my boss place a big order for the next issue, which was called "Mondo 2000."

UPDATE: ZOMG! I didn't watch the video all the way through, but if I had, I'd have noticed this handsome fellow and his long, flowing locks!

M2K was a cyberpunk bible, a pre-Wired serialized manifesto for a vision of a world where everything could be up for grabs thanks to the changes coming due to the Internet. M2K, along with the Whole Earth Review's seminal Is the Body Obsolete? issue and the Crypto Rebels Wired cover set me on a path that has me working for EFF today, writing Boing Boing, and publishing SF novels.

"Mondo 2000 is here to cover the leading edge in hyperculture," an introduction by editor Ken "R.U. Sirius" Goffman and publisher Allison "Queen Mu" Kennedy announced in the first issue. "We're talking Cyber-Chautauqua: bringing cyberculture to the people! Artificial awareness modules. Visual music. Vidscan Magazines. Brain-boosting technologies. William Gibson's Cyberspace Matrix—full realized!"

To some, it was pseudo-intellectual jibberish—or a mere appropriation of the cyberpunk ethic into a glossy magazine. But to the cult following the magazine developed, it all made perfect sense. At a time when few people outside academia had access to the internet, Mondo 2000 was many a wannabe hacker's introduction to the online world.

Apart from the eccentricity, what really set Mondo 2000 apart from other technology magazines was its irreverence. In 1996, editors Goffman and the late "St." Jude Milhon appeared on an episode of television show Internet Cafe, ostensibly to discuss writing online, but what followed ended up being pure Mondo (see video above).

Milhon explains cyberpunk with the assistance of a sneering human prop adorned in an over-the-top cyberpunk getup complete with a fake neural implant sticking out of his head. The Internet Cafe played the segment straight, and whether they were in on the joke—or just the butt of it—isn't quite clear.

Tech Time Warp of the Week: Before WIRED, There Was the Eccentric Mondo 2000 [Klint Finley/Wired]