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January 29, 2013 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Vintage Home Computer Ads Revisited
posted by acb (27 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
The images are funny (great find!), the captions, not so much.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:08 PM on January 29, 2013


This article (and the entire blog) is written by veteran videogame designer/programmer Jeff Minter.
posted by dng at 4:15 PM on January 29, 2013


Hey, it's Yak! Minter is one of the most awesome independent programmers out there, and everyone with an iOS device who hasn't tried it yet needs to play Goat Up.
posted by JHarris at 4:21 PM on January 29, 2013


While there are some admittedly snarky comments in the captions, I appreciate that he brings attention to the more peculiar aspects of some of the photos - like how they holding controllers.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:22 PM on January 29, 2013


The father yelling at the controller mistaking it for a new radio was pretty good, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:27 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh god. the binders upon binders of documentation you used to get with software.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:43 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Images are funny. Captions... also funny.

The marketing strategy of tricking parents into thinking a computer will solve all of the family's problems with Technology! was very prevalent in the 1980s and, at least in my family's case, very effective. It's how we ended up with two separate obsolete machines—a VIC-20 and an Atari 130XE—within the span of a couple years.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:45 PM on January 29, 2013


Nobody ever looked that happy playing the Atari 2600's "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:50 PM on January 29, 2013


I'm pretty sure I owned all of those at one time or another. Well, except the Bible Games.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:58 PM on January 29, 2013


WTF is this crazy-ass telephone phone with a keyboard and LCD thing? It's a seriously weird looking device.
posted by delmoi at 5:04 PM on January 29, 2013


the Amstrad Em@iler!
posted by SharkParty at 5:10 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's the Amstrad Emailer.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:10 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


WTF is this
That's an Amstrad E-m@iler Telephone.
posted by unliteral at 5:11 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been told that is the Amstrad Emailer.
posted by found missing at 5:16 PM on January 29, 2013 [13 favorites]


Whoa! Jeff Minter?! There's a blast from the past. Great to see he's still active and kicking games.
posted by Wordshore at 5:17 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whoa! Jeff Minter?! There's a blast from the past. Great to see he's still active and kicking games.

Not to mention being odd about ungulates.
posted by acb at 5:27 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know - I look back on the 80s with fondness. Then I see the pictures and am reminded of the godawful fashion sense.

And those Bible Games? I think we had them, or a family friend did. IIRC those were just books with BASIC code in them (Kinda like Family Computing magazine had code in it).

And my dad had some sort of finance program for our TRS-80 Co-Co. I think he bought it to justify the purchase to my mom. I think he fired it up once and it never saw use again.
posted by symbioid at 5:35 PM on January 29, 2013


I'd be surprised if you had a C64 in the family and used it for much other than warez-ing and playing games.

I was an Atari kid but was not aware of the cartridge swapper and the radio-looking wireless controller. Next time you watch Videodrome, note the VCS carts atop Max's TV.
posted by porn in the woods at 5:53 PM on January 29, 2013


Why do these articles always feel the need to follow images which speak for themselves with an overwritten try hard paragraph of one liners?
posted by nathancaswell at 6:00 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The day I first got my Commodore 64 and created circles and triangles by PEEKING and POKING was a paradigm shift for me. Then I filled them in! Later I would spend hours typing code for games that I would play for a few minutes and erase by turning the damn thing off. It was only months later that I got the "Datasette" unit. So for me the computer experience was hours of typing. Then more time to find the single . or : or 0 instead of a o that was messing the whole thing up. But I didn't mind. Not at all. I had a damn computer and I was in heaven! One of my big finds was that an Atari joystick worked just fine on the C-64. And my first "game" was Flight Simulator II. On a cassette. It took a half hour to load. I taped two Atari joysticks to the arms of a director's type chair. One was the stick and the other was the throttle. It was the Kankakee Chicago area. It even had weather and winds. And a failure setting so that you could be challenged.

On the second side of the tape was a really bad WWI fighter game.

But I played the shit out of that. Because, a computer game damn it! So while those pictures are funny, you see the expressions on the kids faces? I had that expression. All the damn time.

Oh and a note here: All of the above about typing in and essentially debugging? That's why I'm a hardware guy today. You figure it out.
posted by Splunge at 6:01 PM on January 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


Okay, I like me some buttsex jokes, but that was a lot of buttsex jokes.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 6:09 PM on January 29, 2013


I'd be surprised if you had a C64 in the family and used it for much other than warez-ing and playing games.

I had a Suncom tablet so I also used it to make the same exact drawing of Batman over and over and over.
posted by SharkParty at 6:29 PM on January 29, 2013


My C64 was my word processor rig at college. All glorious 40 columns by 24 rows worth. I spent forty dollars on a word processor program on a double sided floppy; processor on one side and spell-checker on the other. Swap out the floppy to save to another disk. And then print on a daisy-wheel printer that sounded like a hammer drill and took fifteen minutes to print each page. My housemates were going to kill me before I built a Styrofoam enclosure for it to muffle the sound.
posted by octothorpe at 7:52 PM on January 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


The gun lies between them as a threat.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:53 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's an Amstrad E-m@iler Telephone.

Wow, that thing came out in 2000? It would have been pretty boss in the mid 90s (and yeah, they would have called it "boss")

It still would have been ugly, of course, but it would have fit in. And by that time there were already things like the WebTV and such for people who didn't have whole computers and still wanted to email.
posted by delmoi at 10:40 PM on January 29, 2013


Yes, the promises of those early ads seem so transparently false now. They probably did back then, too, but, like any religion, we just so badly wanted to believe that a computer with a tape drive hooked up to our television would be more efficient than the ledger in our paper checkbooks.

My first computer was a Timex/Sinclair 1000, which I got when I was about 22 in 1983. It was actually educational and fun in learning BASIC commands and programming. That was fine, but (contrary to ads and magazine articles) that's all it was good for.

But then I decided to make the thing "useful."

I bought a tape drive and a contact manager program. I painstakingly entered names, addresses, and phone numbers into this program, and saved the data to tape. One day I was showing it to a friend. After several minutes of tape-loading, the contact manager program flashed onto the screen. "Now look, I can just enter a name" (tap tap tap) "and it finds that name in my database" (tape access noises for several minutes) "and there you go!"

He just looked at me blankly and said "You know, just using your address book is so much easier and faster." I conceded that I didn't ever really use the thing to find an address. I was just impressed that it could!
posted by The Deej at 6:05 AM on January 30, 2013


Ode to the Mode

I want to buy a computer. Just to write with, you know. What's all this?

Well, you get two choices. Kaypro uses a CP/M operating system, and these use a DOS system.

What's an operating system?

It's code the computer uses. The best one? Nobody knows. There's sort of a competition between them. I think CP/M is going to win. See, you put the program disc in this slot. It holds about 56K worth of information....then you...

What's a "K"?

Um, well, see, there's bits and bytes... (yadayada)....then...(yadayada)...so...(yadayada)...that's why....

Um. What? Never mind. Okay, I'll take the Kaypro. Now. I need a printer.

Okay. Here's what's available. First there's the Daisy Wheel, and over here's a dot matrix.

What?

Well, see the Daisy Wheel is sort of like an electric typewriter. Uses fonts on a disc. You get two fonts on each Daisy Wheel, and you can buy several Daisy Wheels if you need more that that.

Um...

Now, a dot matrix makes letters with a bunch of little dots. Most editors hate it when you submit work on the dot matrix, but it's got two or three modes. If you want better resolutions, you type the command in--like this--and it makes a couple more passes. You know, like if you want bold-face.

Well, does the Daisy Wheel do bold-face?

Yep. Just put it in with the print command. Like this. It will go back and underline stuff, too.

Well. Okay. What's that wire thing?

Ah. That's the best part. This is called a Tractor Feed.

Um....

[later] ....yeah, well, no, you can't make pictures....

[later]....I dunno. They're all green, and no, this is the biggest one available. Pretty delux, eh?

[later] ...no, the program disc goes in the left side, the data disc goes in the right side. A company called Winchester is experimenting with internal disks, called hard drives, but they seem to have a problem with flying apart. why? Well they spin too fast. Or something.

[later] ....RAM? well, it's sort of like the size of the universe the operating system works in. This one has a lot. 64Kb. what? oh. Kilobyte. I told you. A kilobyte is six bits. haha. No. That doesn't mean it's 75 cents.

[later].....well, it's on sale now, special price. The printer and Kaypro both for $1300. We even throw in the cables. For free.

Time marches on:
[Six years, and several thousands of pages of manuscript later, I had compiled a couple dozen of those 5" discs, and had accumulated a grand total of perhaps two whole megabytes of data. My tractor feed had performed flawlessly, and I never got around to buying any supplemental Daisy Wheels, although I did have to install new ribbons for the printer every few months.

And he lied about the pictures. I remember my first askee Che. ah.]
[Little Green Screen, with your on-screen print commands, I loved you so. ]
posted by mule98J at 8:18 AM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


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