The Last Rainbow
For the final issue of The Rainbow magazine, 1993
by Chris Burke
At first, I bought The Rainbow when I happened to see it on the newsstand at the B. Dalton Bookstore in Schaumburg, Illinois. It wasn't too long before I was making a special trip to buy it as soon as it hit the stores; soon, I was a full subscriber.
I looked forward to the feature articles and regular columns by Tony DiStephano, Marty Goodman, and Dr. ASCII, but a lot of The Rainbow's appeal was in the mail-order ads. I think the first thing I ever bought from a Rainbow ad was "Basic Unraveled", by Spectral Associates. Here was something you'd never find in a Radio Shack store: a complete disassembly of the Color Computer's BASIC ROM.
In addition to The Rainbow itself, there were the RAINBOWfests. For many years, the Chicago RAINBOWfest was held about 2 miles from my house. It was really exciting to see all of the advertisers and their products in person at the 'fests. I'm not sure how much money I spent on my CoCo at RAINBOWfests, but it was a lot.
It was The Rainbow that got Burke & Burke started. I started seeing ads for mail-order hard drives, for about $1200, and that was a lot more than I could afford. At the time, IBM PC hard drives were about $450. I bought one, and used electronics data books to figure out how to hook the IBM controller to my Color Computer. Then my wife Trisha and I saw a column by Marty Goodman in The Rainbow. Marty wrote that somebody should be able to figure out how to hook an IBM PC hard drive to the Color Computer, that there was probably a market for such a thing. With encouragement from Rainbow editor Jim Reed, my wife Trisha and I had circuit boards made up. We sold the first CoCo XT hard disk interfaces that year at a RAINBOWfest in Princeton, New Jersey.
So many people at The Rainbow - Jim Reed, Lonnie Falk, Ira Barsky, Kim Lewis, Marty Goodman, Cray Augsburg, Greg Law, and others - have helped us and given us good advice over the years. We've also had the opportunity to meet a lot of really nice people associated with The Rainbow, or who advertised in it - a kind of "community" which wouldn't have been possible without The Rainbow.
A few years ago I had the privilege of speaking at the RAINBOWfest CoCo Community Breakfast. In that talk, I described the Color Computer as the "focal point" of an extended family of people with different interests - the CoCo community. I described how a family can splinter when it loses its focal point. In recent months, I've come to realize that The Rainbow is another such focal point; that the time of its loss is near; that we have reached the end of an era. Even so, I can't help but wonder: could the CoCo community itself be the "gold", at the end of The Rainbow?
Burke & Burke