Cantab was a magazine produced by students at the University of Cambridge between 1981 and 1990. It was unusual among British student magazines in being independent of student unions. Operations were self-financed, initially through copy sales and advertising, later through advertising alone.
The title's second claim to fame was its production via an extremely early form of desktop publishing, involving a typesetting program specially written for its BBC Micro computer and Juki daisy wheel printer by Martin Tod and introduced as early as the first months of 1984.
In 1985 the magazine launched a spin-off summer title, Cantab's What's On and Where to Go in Cambridge, which gained success in that year's Student Media Awards, run by The Guardian newspaper. Other less successful spin-offs, including Business Matters and Cantab's version of Energy Matters, were produced occasionally as revenue generating vehicles to subsidise the main title.
In 1985/6 the magazine was relaunched, switching from a paid-for circulation to free distribution. Relying solely on advertising sales was an unusual and potentially risky move, but allowed for a massively increased print run, increased pagination and higher production quality. While maintaining a focus on arts coverage, the magazine took an increased interest in politics and current affairs, with a noticeably more left-wing stance.
The magazine was relaunched again in 1987/88.
Notable Cantab staff members include:
- Paul Abrahams. Director of Corporate Communications for Reed Elsevier, London; triple Gold Medal winner in fencing in the veterans' category at the Commonwealth Games.
- Grace Bradberry. Editor of T2 at The Times.
- Colin Brown. Longtime editor-in-Chief of Screen International, professor at the NYU Film School and contributing editor for CNBC.
- Roz Carroll. Noted body psychotherapist and lecturer. Author of 'Self-regulation: an evolving concept at the heart of body psychotherapy,' in Hartley, Contemporary Body Psychotherapy: The Chiron Approach (2009)
- John Crowther. Strategy Director at the WCRS creative agency.
- Mike Dash. Fortean, publisher of Viz, featured contributor to Smithsonian and author of Batavia's Graveyard.
- Paul-Michael Dempsey. Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Tech Design Forum; Washington correspondent, Engineering & Technology magazine.
- Paul Foulkes-Arellano. New Business & Marketing Director at the Seymourpowell branding agency.
- Francis Freisinger. Vice President of Latin American Economics at Merrill Lynch & Co.
- Richard Furlong. Defence barrister specialising in major fraud, money laundering and drugs cartel cases. Author of International Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (2008).
- Midge Gillies. Journalist and biographer of Marie Lloyd and Amy Johnson. Tutor at the University of Cambridge's Institute of Continuing Education.
- Chris Grayling. Leader of the House of Commons, former British Secretary of State for Justice, and Conservative Member of Parliament for Epsom and Ewell. Contributor to Insight Guide Waterways of Europe.
- Tim Harper. Author and historian.
- Penny Harris. Editorial director of the Attic Futura and H.Bauer magazine publishing companies.
- Wendy Holden. Best-selling chick lit novelist.
- Madeleine Holt. Newsnight culture correspondent, 1989-2010; founder of the Meet the Parents education initiative
- Paul Horrell. Eminent motoring journalist; contributor to BBC Top Gear.
- Sarah Howgate. Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery; author of Lucian Freud Portraits (2012).
- Nicky Louth-Davies. Change management mentor, House of Commons.
- Andrew Lownie. Top literary agent and biographer of John Buchan and Guy Burgess.
- Robert Mason[disambiguation needed]. Journalist.
- Ben Mingay. Leading corporate financier with Smith Square Partners.
- Caren Myers. Mafia prosecutor turned Associate Professor of Law at Georgia State University.
- David Owens. Professor of Philosophy at King's College London. Author of Shaping the Normative Landscape (2012).
- Richard Penty, FREng. Master of Sidney Sussex College and Professor of Photonics at the University of Cambridge.
- Jane Penrose. Educational consultant.
- Nicholas Pyke. Editor, Review section, Mail on Sunday.
- Jim Roberts. London-based maritime solicitor specialising in Franco-Arab cargo disputes.
- Stephen Sackur. BBC TV correspondent in Washington, D.C.
- Alexander Shankland. Research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.
- Ian Shuttleworth. Theatre critic for the Financial Times; editor and publisher of Theatre Record since 2004 and lead contributor to Reading the Vampire Slayer: An Unofficial Critical Companion to Buffy and Angel (2001).
- Simon Silvester. Leading advertising agency strategist and head of planning at a succession of major agencies until his death in September 2012.
- Louise Simpson. Formerly Director of Communications, University of Cambridge.
- Kevin G. Southernwood. Leader of Cambridge city council 1995-98.
- Caroline Thomson. Marketing director, The Link DSG.
- Martin Tod. Interim chief executive of the Men's Health Forum and formerly Liberal Democrats parliamentary candidate for Winchester .
- Gideon Todes. Award-winning advertising copywriter responsible for some of The Economist 's successful print advertising campaign. Brand consultant, trainer and creator of The Copy Course.
- Bob Tolliday. Formerly Principal Investigative Reporter, Which? magazine; Communications manager for the International Lead Association.
- Roger Tredre. Lecturer in fashion journalism at Central St Martins University of the Arts, and formerly editor-in-chief of Stylus, the multi-million pound design trends web site.
- Cathy Troupp. Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.
- Tim Turner. Magazine editor and novelist.
- Brian Watson. Cult industrial designer.
- Annabel Warburg. Teacher at St Swithun's School; married to Sir Frederick Hervey-Bathurst, Bt.
- Tessa Watt. BBC Radio 3 producer, influential figure in the World music scene, mindfulness consultant; author of Mindful London (2014); works at Westminster with the All-party Parliamentary Group for Mindfulness.
- Jo Whelan CBE. Comptroller General of the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt.
- Marina Wheeler. Barrister specialising in European Union law and wife of Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.
- Andy Wilton. Noted New Zealand-based games programmer and proprietor of the Pazzazz gaming company. Senior Lead Programmer with Gameloft New Zealand.
- Cathie Wood. Marketing Manager for Oxfam; later co-founder/owner of the Frank Research market research agency; became a campaigner for disability after the death of her brother in the wake of benefit cuts.
- The Guardian, 5 November 1984.
- See mastheads, collection of Cantab issues at Cambridge University Library, classmark Cam.a.41.5
- http://www.mikedash.com/about.htm, accessed 8 December 2008.
- The Times, 1 December 2007.
- The Guardian, 13 July 2003.
- https://www.ice.cam.ac.uk/components/tutors/?view=tutor&id=939, accessed 2 August 2015.
- http://www.andrewlownie.co.uk/, accessed 8 December 2008.
- Public Finance, 16 June 2014.