Byte Magazine Nostalgia Photo

Those of us who remember when microprocessors were young also recall the magazines of the era. Readers bought the magazine for content but the covers attracted attention on the newsstand. In the late 70s until the early 90s the competition was fierce, so great covers were mandatory. The covers of Byte magazine created by [Robert Tinney] were detailed, colorful, and always interesting.


[Bob Alexander] of Galactic Studios recreated one of those hand drawn covers using photographic techniques. The cover shows a steam engine, tender and caboose rolling along the traces on a PC board amidst a landscape populated by resistors, capacitors, and integrated circuits. The photographic clone recreates that image using all real components, including an HO train. The circuit, unfortunately, isn’t of a working device.

Creating this work followed all the normal hacking steps for a PC board: a mockup of the layout, designing the board, and ordering it from China. Component procurement was sometimes a hassle since some are no longer in production. The components that weren’t found on EBay were hacked.

The only image manipulation involved the HO train. It was much larger than the PC board so could not be put in place for the photo. Images of the PC board and the train were merged using software. Also added were smoke rings puffing out of the locomotive’s smokestack.

The photo is a worthy recreation of [Tinney’s] original.

For more trainy goodness, check out our own Brian Benchoff’s tour of the Siemens Model Train Club.  Or for further photo-realistic modelling, have a look at this insanely detailed Ford pickup model.


28 thoughts on “Byte Magazine Nostalgia Photo

  1. Very well done!

    I remember as a kid looking forward to new issues of BYTE magazine, mostly for the BASIC programs within. I didn’t have money enough for a subscription, so I usually borrowed the magazine from other people. Much of what I learned about programming came from BYTE and other magazines from the early years of home computing.

    1. Thank you, Rud, for this article. Like, DainBramage, I recall those wonderful Byte covers fondly although I was in college when I received my copy with the train on it. Wish I had kept all those magazines. I knew very little about computers at the time, but my new parents-in-law bought me a Byte subscription for my birthday and I read it cover to cover each month. I kept my subscription until they folded the magazine many, many years later. By the end of that first year or reading the magazine, I knew far more about computers than most of my Engineering friends at school.

      Your story brought back wonderful memories on this Thanksgiving day. Thank you!

    1. My top priority was getting one of those old brown cylindrical resistors. Matching the ohms in Tinney’s painting was very low priority – especially since Tinney appears to have thrown in a couple of extra color bands for artistic reasons.

  2. A good post thanks for that, BYTE was a quality magazine I enjoyed reading it her in the UK and latter on bought Steve Ciacia’s Circuit Cellar when he left BYTE..obviously it was going down hill by then ..Good days .Thanks

  3. Brings back memories. I had byte mags going back to first year, built my first computer from scratch using them. But when moving 20+ years ago my wife talked me into dumping them except for a few. Now with the internet and the likes of hackaday byte is not needed but missed.

  4. Some people have asked about buying prints of this photo re-creation of Byte magazine’s Computer Engineering cover. I have now gotten written permission from Robert Tinney to sell prints of this and of another Byte cover I re-created (Chip Building, with a microprocessor being chiseled out by a guy with a jackhammer). You can get them from

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