Future Publishing is the UK magazine company whose first magazine was Amstrad Action. Founded by Chris Anderson, an ex-editor of Personal Computer Games, it has since grown into one of the largest magazine publishers in Europe.
Future was founded in 1985, in the small Somerset town of Somerton, when Anderson took out a £10,000 loan to launch AA. Initial sales were disappointing - verging on catastrophic - but the company recovered to make Amstrad Action the most popular CPC read in Britain.
Spin-offs soon followed: 8000 Plus (later PCW Plus), a magazine about the Amstrad PCW 8256 word-processor and its follow-ups; PC Plus, a magazine about Amstrad PCs and other IBM-compatibles; and an all-format games magazine called ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment). To accommodate the rapid expansion, the company moved to the picturesque Georgian town of Bath, acquiring a series of buildings dotted around the terraced streets.
Before long, Future was publishing at least one title for each of the most popular computing platforms. ST Format, Amiga Format, Commodore Format and (acquired from Dennis) Your Sinclair were amongst the best-known. Console magazines followed, as did the company's first expeditions into non-computer publishing - the successful Classic CD, which repeated Future's trademark marketing device of covermounting a disc on every issue, and the less impressive Diesel Car. Some of the computer launches also failed to impress, such as CD-ROM Today and Public Domain.
The company was sold to media conglomerate Pearson (owner of the Financial Times) in 1994. The growth strategy meant that Future was the unchallenged leader in UK computing magazines, particularly in the games sector. However, this continuing expansion was soured by problems. Their most successful magazines had a limited shelf-life as, one by one, the formats died: Amstrad Action, for example, was unceremoniously killed off at issue 117, just three short of its tenth anniversary. In time, the other 8-bit magazines, the early console magazines, and even the ST and Amiga titles followed suit. European acquisitions (in France, Poland and Italy) were also troublesome, and even the smash-hit Classic CD fell victim to high-profile launches by the BBC and Classic FM radio.
Pearson eventually disposed of the company, to be picked up by venture capitalists Apax. Throughout much of this time, the chief executive was Greg Ingham, previously publisher of Amstrad Action. But as the company's troubled fortunes continued, with frequent profit warnings and sell-offs, he was eventually replaced in 2006.