In the year 2034, we’ll almost certainly look back on the Samsung Galaxy S5 and wonder how we managed to function with such a clunky piece of equipment. The evolution of technology continues to blaze along, and machines people used in the 1980s might as well have been coal-fired, even though at the time they were devices of almost unimaginable power and mystery.
Consumers of early computer products for the workplace and home were advertised to just as heavily as the tech consumers of today are, only in print and on broadcast television rather than on the digital devices themselves.
Here are 6 awesome vintage tech ads that make you wonder: what will we think of 2014’s ads a generation from now?
1. What Good’s a Daisy Wheel Printer if You Can’t Carry It Around?
Daisy wheel printers were actually quite remarkable for their time. Dot matrix printers produced documents that were hardly easier to read than handwritten ones, but daisy wheel printout looked like it had been typed. And you could play hilarious pranks by installing the wheel itself rotated “off” slightly, making everything it printed into gibberish. But if you had a portable daisy wheel printer, like this one byTranstar, you could prevent such acts of office prankery and still look smart in your floppy bowtie.
2. Apples Survive Even When the Cat Burns Your House Down
Apple recently went on the defensive after complaints about the “flexibility” of the new iPhone 6 when it’s shoved into a pocket and sat upon. But Apple once marketed a computer based on its ability disaster survival. It seems a designer took his Apple computer from work home for the holidays (perhaps with the help of a hand-truck). Alas, everyone went out, the family cat knocked over a lamp and basically burned the place down. The Apple computer, however, only required a new keyboard before it could go back to storing literally kilobytes of important data.
3. Electronic Mail: Write to This Address for Details
Electronic mail: how does it work? According to one vintage advertisement for Honeywell, it works not unlike lit sparklers whizzing around your office unpredictably enough to cause your necktie to try to save itself by hiding behind your back. If you weren’t traumatized by this depiction of what would eventually be shortened to “email,” you could post a letter to a Mr. Laurie Reeves, the man who could tell you all about how electronic mail could revolutionize business.
4. He Was Right About Pudding Pops, Why Not Computers?
Bill Cosby dominated Thursday night television for years, and helped General Foods sell $100 million worth of Pudding Pops. So who better to pitch the Texas Instruments TI-99 Home Computer? The company hired Mr. Cosby in 1982 as its ad campaign spokesman at the hefty price of $1 million per year, but did they really need to invest in such a high-profile celebrity spokesman? After all, the TI-99 boasted 16K of RAM and could display 16 colors. It practically sold itself.
5. Dissing the Family Dog: Too Harsh?
In 1985, the Radio Shack TRS-80 billed itself as “Man’s New Best Friend,” and who were we to argue? It had two floppy drives and 64 KB of memory. One print ad with a coupon you could use to write away for a brochure on the machine boasted that the company had recently slashed the price by $700, to a budget-friendly $1,299. But the dog in the family picture in the ad probably had the last laugh, watching his hapless family wade through piles of unlabeled floppy disks to find a recipe while he sat by the fireplace watching that new MacGyver show everyone was talking about.
6. 10 Whole Megabytes? Under $4,000? Sold!
A San Diego company called XCOMP wanted to free corporate America from the shackles of floppy disks with high error rates with its “powerful little system” – a hard disk drive that could hold 10 MB of data. It came with testing software, drivers, and a full one-year warranty, and it could be yours for the low price of $3,398. Of course, if your budget didn’t run that high, you could get a 5 MB system for only $2,898. Still, though, at $580 per megabyte, who could possibly pass it up?