We’re 25!

In.Tech has hit the big 25.

In human years, we’d be regarded as a young person ready to face the real world but In.Tech has been dealing with the real world (and virtual too) from the get-go.

Our humble beginnings started in an era where personal computers were still relatively unknown, the Internet was still a research project and phones were wired.

Yes, the technology landscape back in 1983 was totally ­different, but The Star was already ahead of its time by having the nation’s first and (at the time) only computer game review column called Battlezone.

The next year, it was ready to venture into ­computers and IT news with its Interphase column.

The ball really got moving when a newspaper columnist Dan E. Khoo approached The Star in early 1985 to start a pullout dedicated to computers.

The Star went ahead with the idea and Computers, a 16-page spot-colour pullout, was born in October that year and was tasked with furthering the reach of computers into our schools.

Only about 2% of these schools had ­computer clubs then and The Star wanted to drastically increase that number through its Computer Education Programme (CEP), which was under the patronage of former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was then Education Minister.

When Khoo left Computers in December 1985, Davin Arul, then a sub editor with The Star, was asked to helm the pullout. It flourished thanks to its core group of helpful and dedicated staff, consultants and contributors.

“We were pulling 16-hour work days. It was fun but very tiring at the end of the day,” said Davin, ­currently vice-president of New Media, Star Publications (M) Bhd.

A number of firsts

Computers was responsible for introducing the first public bulletin board service — Starlink — which had a chat/forum function that allowed readers to communicate online. All they needed was a computer, dial-up modem and telephone line. It’s a primitive messaging service by today’s standards but in 1985 it was the bomb.

Computers also started the first consumer computer fair, Microworld, where computer vendors could hawk their wares.

Davin recalls that it took a lot of effort to get Microworld off the ground as many vendors were not keen to take part.

“The Star was unproven as an event ­organiser back then. It was hard work selling booths by day and getting the editorial work done by night, but our teamwork paid off,” he said.

Microworld turned out to be a resounding success: 30,000 visitors thronged the show when it was held in April 1985 at the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre.

In 1986, the show was renamed Microfest, and the following year it spread its wings to Penang where it was called Microfair.

Both events went on annually for several years after that.

At the same time Comquiz, an inter-school computer quiz was started.

It was originally hosted by The League of School Computer Clubs, but the next year the competition evolved into the Intel/Star Northern Region Computer Quiz and was held around the time of Microfair 1987 in Penang.

Computers took “a short break” when the Government suspended The Star’s printing permit under Operation Lalang in Oct 1987.

“Just before that, the Computers team was growing stronger; we were hitting our stride, we’d just hired our very first full-time ­reporter, and then ... bam,” Davin recalled.

Back for good

When The Star was given back its printing permit in early 1988, Computers too returned with a bang and a new name — In.Tech.

The name change was to ­accurately reflect the ­developing industry it covered. The personal ­computer had evolved into an information ­technology tool, not just a device for easy ­accounting, wordprocessing, and games.

It was also an exciting time, ­especially for computer gamers who got to enjoy many genres, such as flight and submarine ­simulations, role-playing games, turn-based strategy games and adventure games.

In 1993, In.Tech switched its emphasis from industry coverage to focus more on end-user products and we continue to do so.

Today, we’ve taken advantage of the Internet to bring you the latest in technology news.

For a more detailed account of our ­quarter-century journey, go to www.thestar.com.my/techniversary And here’s to the next 25! :)

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