Wired magazine these days is just a Big-tech positivist propaganda machine. But it wasn’t like that 30 years ago. In the 90s Wired Magazine was “super hip”. First off, the layout was pushing the boundaries of design, like lots of things back then when computers started to get used as design tools. Actually, its layout will feel unusual even now. We were trying all the tricks design, 3D and photo software could throw at us. And Just for that, Wired is a gem. But it gets better. The original Wired captures the spirit of the tech industry and the internet of the 90s.
Tech back then was mostly led by people who came with ideas that tie to the the late 60s counter culture movement. So yes, they were a bunch of hipsters. On one side they had the ones who preached openness and sharing knowledge, information and code. But you also had the more capitalistic ones that were interested in making money, but they dreamed of a better future. Both, wanting money or not, were idealists. They promoted the idea that tech should make our lives better, rather than make themselves into billionaires by surveilling the population or riling up our emotions to keep us locked into their platforms. Yes, of course, there were tech millionaires, but all these companies were passionate about what they were building.
Some topics Wired would cover, other than your regular gadgetry, would be: Bio Tech, AI, music (especially genres cyberpunk), movies and documentaries, Sci-Fi and futurism books, interactive CD Roms, video games and, last but not least, interesting websites.
Wired wasn’t really a tech business magazine like it is now, it was a magazine for geeks to be in the know of what’s next. Of new frontiers, of ground breaking discoveries.
Back then conversations about the future included AI, but that was somewhat overshadowed by something else: Bio Tech. Bio technology these days has been forgotten, but back then people were dreaming of storing data in living organisms, controlling insects with technology and other wacky ideas. I personally found this exciting. AI was in its infancy, as it probably still is now, but it was mostly research in the domain of Universities. They were not building tools to “disrupt”. It wasn’t a get rich quick scheme game.
I could go on, but I suggest you don’t just take my opinions about this and actually experience it yourself. Below is a link to some search results for a big collection of 90s Wired issues from Archive.org. If at all possible, use the torrents to download them, to save the nice people at archive.org some bandwidth. And if you find it useful, donate to them.
Here’s my favourites list where you’ll find a bunch of early 90s Wired Magazines.