Based on numerous convention encounters, online discussions, articles read and Facebook comments, it is (painfully) obvious that there is a great deal of confusion and misinformation out there regarding the history of Amazing Stories magazine and its eponymous television show.
In order to help dilute that confusion and correct the misinformation, herewith a simplified, straight-forward timeline of events:
1923: Hugo Gernsback experiments with publishing “scientifiction” in his magazine Science and Invention; he floats the idea of publishing a magazine devoted entirely to such fare with his readers, but response is lackluster and so the idea is shelved.
1926: (March time frame). Gernsback releases Amazing Stories without prior announcement. The magazine is an immediate success, purportedly selling over 100,000 copies. The editorial in the first issue, dated April 1926, offers up the first formal definition of the science fiction genre:
“By ‘scientifiction’ I mean the Jules Verne, H G Wells and Edgar Allan Poe type of story – a charming romance intermingled with scientific fact and prophetic vision
1927: Gernsback launches Amazing Stories Annual. Lasts one issue
1928: Gernsback launches Amazing Stories Quarterly, published until 1934 and then revived from 1940 through 1951
1929: Gernsback loses Amazing Stories and his publishing empire to bankruptcy. Some contend it was forced so that a rival publisher could take over the company. Gernsback moves on to found the second and third science fiction magazines (Air Wonder Stories and Science Wonder Stories); Amazing and other former Gernsback publications continue publication under trusteeship.
NOTE: Science Fiction Fandom began through the letter column in Amazing Stories; Gernsback accompanied each published letter with the address of the writer, allowing fans of the genre to contact each other.
1929 – 1938: The magazine continues to publish under different publishing company names (Radio-Science Publications, Teck Publishing Corp., Teck Publications) though they are owned by the same individual.
1938: The magazine is sold to Ziff-Davis Publications. Raymond A. Palmer, (long time fan, arguably editor of the first fanzine) is installed as editor and takes the magazine on a sensationalistic track, raising circulation figures to new heights, although fans are not happy with the content.
1950: Another publication, ‘Amazing” is briefly flirted with
1957: Amazing Stories Science Fiction Novel is launched; lasts one issue (20 Million Miles to Earth, based on the movie of the same name)
1965: The magazine is sold to Ultimate Publications, which begins a reprint regime with the magazine, eventually getting it into trouble with the newly formed SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) over rights issues.
1980-1982: Ultimate first offers to sell the magazine to Jonathan Vos Post, but ends up selling to TSR Inc, the Dungeons and Dragons publisher. TSR publishes Amazing Stories along with several other genre and gaming publications.
Circa 1984: NBC/Universal licenses the name for use by Steven Spielberg as the title of a family-friendly anthology series. Spielberg reportedly receives and unprecedented production budget for the time (either half a million or a million dollars per episode) and unprecedented creative control of the series.
1984: Amazing Stories, the television show, helmed by Spielberg, title music by John Williams and episodes directed by some of the best and brightest in Hollywood, premieres to underwhelming fanfare. The show lasts two seasons, receives critical acclaim for several episodes and lack of viewer support and is cancelled.
1998: TSR, along with its magazine holdings, is purchased by Wizards of the Coast, the Magic: the Gathering card game publishers.
1999: Hasbro, Inc, the toy company, purchases Wizards of the Coast, including its publications and intellectual property
2004: Paizo Publishing (former staff of Dragon Publishing, the magazine department at TSR) license the name and publish the magazine for 7 months
2008: Hasbro allows the Amazing Stories trademark to lapse; Steve Davidson applies for the mark
2011: USPTO grants Davidson the Amazing Stories trademark
2012: The Experimenter Publishing Company LLC is formed (named for Gersback’s original publishing company) and launches a mutli-author website and blog. From that year through 2018, several special edition and ‘test’ issues of the magazine are produced in electronic format
2015: NBC/Universal approaches Experimenter regarding licensing of the name for use in a Spielberg-helmed reboot of the television show
2018: Amazing Stories magazine debuts as a quarterly print and electronic publication at the San Jose Worldcon
2020: Amazing Stories, the television show, debuts on Apple TV + streaming servive (NBC sold production rights to Apple in 2018)
No, the magazine is not based on the ’85 television show