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Hilarious Antique IT Advertisements 219

Posted by Zonk
from the now-that-is-spooky dept.
PetManimal writes "Computerworld has gone back through forty years worth of magazines, and came up with some entertaining IT-related advertising gems from decades past. Highlights include The Personal Mainframe, an image of the earliest screenless briefcase portables, and Elvira hawking engineering software. From the article: 'Remember Elvira, Mistress of the Dark? Besides appearing on TV in features like Elvira's Movie Macabre Halloween Special, Elvira also invited Computerworld readers to "cut through paper-based CASE [computer-aided software engineering] methods with LBMS" software. "The scariest thing about CASE is the several hundred pounds of books that land on your desk and for which you've paid fifteen gazillion dollars, when you buy off on a CASE development methodology," she writes. Can you guess what year Elvira appeared in this Computerworld ad? Headline hint: "IBM delays notebook arrival in U.S."'"
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Hilarious Antique IT Advertisements

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  • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday June 15, 2007 @12:31PM (#19521461) Homepage
    man and woman on the couch, soft music playing she look into his eyes and says...

    "Can I see your Wang?"

    Damned best computer Ad ever... and it was pulled because it was too sexual.
    • by Otter (3800) on Friday June 15, 2007 @12:44PM (#19521657) Journal
      Sorry, the 3Dfx "We have in our possession a chip..." commercials (example [google.com], and see the Related Videos for the other two) are far and away the best computer ads ever.
      • Am I the only one who thinks these ads are ridiculous and rather sad? Sure, we could use this amazing chip to help get clean air/food/water so other people without it can get it. Ah, screw them...they can die. Let's play games and forget about their problems.

        I understand the market for gaming, but the "screw the world" mentality is just disturbing...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Otter (3800)
          Sure, we could use this amazing chip to help get clean air/food/water so other people without it can get it. Ah, screw them...they can die. Let's play games and forget about their problems.

          Yes, that's precisely what the joke is.

          Realistically, it's not like they could only make a limited number of chips. Engineers and scientists were buying their cards just like gamers were.

        • by Tim Browse (9263) on Friday June 15, 2007 @04:39PM (#19525145)

          Actually that ad wasn't that great (imho) - but this one [google.com] is much better, and is one of my favourite ads ever.

          Same basic principle but just executed much better, I think. And I love the last line of the ad.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by jlowery (47102)
          > Am I the only one who thinks these ads are ridiculous and rather sad?

          YOU
          _
          ( )
    • I may not have the wording exactly right (I think it was >25 years ago), but

      PRIME computers happily talk to other computer systems. However, they sometimes have to talk slowly and use very short words.
    • by LMacG (118321) on Friday June 15, 2007 @01:01PM (#19521927) Journal
      Let us not forget "The Most Ridiculous Windows Video Ever" [gizmodo.com].
    • by hurfy (735314)
      hehe, i have the 'My Wang does Wonders' button :)

      I also have the Wang to go with it ;)

      Doesn't every geek use 500lbs of equipment and 2000 watts to play battleship?
    • by VAXcat (674775)
      There was another Wang TV ad that was hysterical. It showed an IBM executive sitting in his office. Out the window, we see the Wang helicopter gunship closing in for the kill. Probably couldn't do a commercial like that now - it wouild be deemed "terroristic".
    • My favorite ad was the one for logitech with the peeing baby. It was a two page ad with a baby on the left side in diapers with the caption "Feels good." On the right was a smiling baby, naked and peeing into the air. His caption read, "Feels better."
    • by jd (1658)
      ...where a Prime computer told him to marry Lala Ward. I'm not sure which happened first - they split up or Prime went belly up, but I can't help but think that codependence on a buggy mainframe explains a lot.
    • The one that gets me is the "totable" computer. Not simply because I'm typing this on a laptop BUT I actually have the case for that particular system in my sight about 5 feet from where I'm now sitting. I saw it years ago at a flea market for $3 and couldn't let it go to waste, plus I needed something to put my Amiga computer in for my video performances. I think right now I've got a sewing machine stored in it but it has been delegated to hold everything from my magic collection to books.

      "How do you kn
    • Is there a copy of this advertisement online?
  • print version.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 15, 2007 @12:32PM (#19521491)
    is here [computerworld.com]
  • That was when... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WED Fan (911325) <akahige@NospAm.trashmail.net> on Friday June 15, 2007 @12:33PM (#19521503) Homepage Journal

    That was when magazines were cool, you could learn Pascal, BASIC, and Assembly in one magazine because they had tons of listings. Hell, I remember using several articles to wire wrap my own S100 serial card.

    Ah, the good ol' days. When hackers were hackers.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Are there any programming magazines that still have code listings? or that ship with a CD with the code on it, which would be preferable? It seems like most of the good reading for programmers has moved to the web. Do any print magazines still exist? On a less related note, I was at the grocery store and realized that not one of the magazines in the checkout line was targeted to men. I know the demographic means that most of the shoppers will be women, but I don't see why there should be no magazines for
      • by WED Fan (911325)

        Are there any programming magazines that still have code listings?

        I subscribe to ASP.NET Pro Magazine. They have a lot of articles with code. They run multipart articles with entire solutions and code. Plus, they have a complete archive of old articles and source.

        Back in the '70s, one of my first apps was taken from a magazine article that with code for a "dungeon" game. It was a learning exercise to translate to something useable on my machine (syntax and all). Then, I started to alter it, expand it, and

      • by jez9999 (618189)
        On a less related note, I was at the grocery store and realized that not one of the magazines in the checkout line was targeted to men. I know the demographic means that most of the shoppers will be women, but I don't see why there should be no magazines for men.

        Guess which gender is statistically more prone to impulse purchases.
    • I used to get Applesoft magazine and type in and debug all of the cool (for then) games who's code they would publish for the Apple IIe. I taught myself BASIC that way and learned lots of handy memory locations to peek & poke.

      Even ads fueled coders. Beagle Bros would publish "one liners" in their ads. A single line of code for the Apple that would do something nifty like draw patterns on the screen.
    • by Ucklak (755284)
      One of those publications could have been Compute!

      I remember they had a checksum program you could use to verify line by line that what you typed matched was on the page of the magazine.
      They had a word processing program that got me through college on my Commodore 64.
  • Um...1991? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Friday June 15, 2007 @12:39PM (#19521591)

    Can you guess what year Elvira appeared in this Computerworld ad?


    Um...1991? (Check the "copyright" at the bottom of the image.) Jeez.
  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@keirste ... minus physicist> on Friday June 15, 2007 @12:47PM (#19521715) Homepage
    "Worried about software costs? People who use it say The Personal Mainframe is the easiest system they have ever worked with. The DBMS complies with COASYL specifications. All the languages, from COBOL to FORTRAN are highly interactive".

    I should lay that one on my fiancee next time she complains about something being wrong with the PC.

  • by CrazyTalk (662055) on Friday June 15, 2007 @12:49PM (#19521735)
    I remember when blazing fast 1200 baud modems came out, and I replaced my 300 baud modem. The text (there were no graphics to be concerned about) would scroll by so fast that I couldnt read it. I figured there was really no need for faster modems than 300 baud, because I couldnt read faster than 300 baud anyway. Guess thats my version of the "No one needs more than 640K Memory" quote.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816)
      300 baud modems really WERE baud-based, not bps-based, and so they provide 150cps (bytes/sec). If you type 75 words per minute at an average of 5 characters per word it's only a little over 6 cps. But I can read MUCH, MUCH faster than that. I know, because I once contacted a multiline text board BBS in my hometown "XBBS" with a BofA "homebanking" terminal, which had ANSI color, 40 columns IIRC, and a 300 baud modem. (And yes, I realize that this is not amazingly old tech nor does it earn me any "chops".) I
      • That's 15 bytes or chars/sec, for 150 bits per second; I am assuming 8 data bits and two for overhead. If you type 150 wpm, then you can outtype a 300 baud modem. Outtasight! I'm at half that, so I only typed into the buffer in brief bursts.
    • by Damvan (824570)
      I remember getting a Novation AppleCAT after saving up for like a year. It was 1200 baud, half duplex, but faster than a 300. Was the standard for Apple pirate boards back in the day. A little over $300 if I remember correctly, around 1983.
  • by digitalderbs (718388) on Friday June 15, 2007 @12:49PM (#19521741)
    Marketing dept guy #1 : How the hell are we going to sell this LBMS?

    Marketing dept guy #2 : Hmm.. Our customers are all sexually frustrated geeks. Let's put Elvira(R) on there. She's sexy and the kids seem to like her.

    Marketing dept guy #1 : That's a great idea.

    (Marketing dept prepares a mock-up. Marketing dept guy #1 reads off the text)

    Marketing dept guy #1 : "The most overwhelming aspect of CASE is the several hundred...LBMS will address these issues. Their Project Engineer(TM) and On-line Method(TM) toolsets will reduce development backlog."

    Marketing dept guy #2 : Wow, that sounds boring as hell. It'd sound way cooler if we made Elvira(R) say it. Try this :

    "The scariest thing about CASE is the several hundred...So how's about calling LBMS in ... heh heh ...Texas. Let them show you how their totally automated Project Engineer(TM) and On-Line Method(TM) toolsets can cut through development backlog." signed, Elvira(R)

    Marketing dept guy #1 : You're a genius. That sounds way more interesting. I've got wood.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      You forgot the last line:

      Marketing dept guy #2: Let's call it a day and go get some call girls and some blow.
      • You both missed the real last line, and it's a beaut - on the ad, the _second_ tick box on the response form:

              "[ ] I'd just like a glossy reprint of this ad."

        Now _that_ is knowing you target audience...

        Beautiful marketing - probably not even allowed these days.
    • Elvira was quite the franchise in them days ... there was even a computer game [mobygames.com] made in 1990. Take that, Lara Croft!

    • She actually said that you know. That Elvira quote was from her horror movie TV show. She was showing "Software Sorority Slasher".

      Oblig Simpsons Quote: (Elvira) "Look at my boooobies!"
  • by griffenjam (1080861) on Friday June 15, 2007 @12:52PM (#19521799)
  • IBM PS/1 (Score:3, Funny)

    by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Friday June 15, 2007 @12:56PM (#19521851)
    I remember seeing an ad for the IBM PS/1 when it came out as a successor to the PCjr marketed as a consumer-grade PS/1. The computer was sitting on a desk in the background wasting electricity and there was a family enjoying each others company in front of it, paying no attention to it at all. The ad had a tag line that I vaguely recall as "the first computer that knows you have a life" or something like that. I almost ran out and bought one but then I controlled myself and decided that if I could wait just a few more months I could buy a computer even worse.
  • Memory Lane (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smudge (79563) on Friday June 15, 2007 @01:01PM (#19521925)
    Wow ... this was such a trip down memory lane!

    My kids think I'm a dinosaur when I say things like "we didn't have: cell phones | vcrs | ipods | personal computers | digital cameras ... when I was a kid." Now I look at these ads and see the advances in 'technology' in my WORKING lifetime.

    In my 1st job at a VERY LARGE computer company we had "terminal rooms". For the youngsters that's a room with 10 typewriter like things that you could use to submit your code. (No screen, just test on PAPER.) Then wait the rest of the day to get a printout from another room. This was an improvement over the punch cards of the year before.

    We eventual got tubes (terminals w/screen) in our offices, but usally 2 programmers per. And those had that lovely green on black text ... like a DOS prompt or X screen.

              Maybe they're right.
    • We eventual got tubes (terminals w/screen) in our offices, but usally 2 programmers per.

      And that is the story of how Xtreme Programming was born.
  • Well, not exactly WordStar. I grew up with WordStar on my Apple II+. Some years later when I started using Linux I found JOE (Joe's Own Editor.) I checked it out for the hell of it and was surprised how naturally all the WordStar commands came back to me. I've been using it ever since. It's not exactly WYSIWYG by today's standards, but it works great over SSH!
    • I am comforted to see someone else remembers WordStar. Saddened, though, that it is now one of the ten funniest IT adverts of all time. In its day, it was a wonder. Fully justified text and would run in 64K of memory. Many a BBS operator depended on WS for 'publishing' electronic articles back in the day. I know I did. With a product like Multilink you could cram two instances of RBBS-PC into 640K of RAM with enough RAM left over to run a WS instance at the same time. It was a godsend.
    • JOE also handles very large files correctly. If I open a 10M logfile with JOE, it is fast because it doesn't seem chuck the entire thing into a buffer. It seems to know how to pull just the bit you're working on from the disk. I'd love a good graphical editor that works this way.
  • http://opticaldynamics.com/~gbk/2c-a-byte.jpg [opticaldynamics.com]

    Up to 32k for the low low price of $649!
  • I still have in my possesion an ad that came with Microsoft Flight Simulator back in the late 80s/early 90s. It was an Intel 386/SX processor for nearly $1000. Just for the bloody chip! It's interesting that I can get a complete system for half that, now.
  • by Timex (11710) * <{smithadmin} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday June 15, 2007 @01:42PM (#19522571) Journal
    ...was a two-page advert from Sun, featuring Sally Struthers.

    The gist was something like, "Thinking of switching to NT? Isn't there enough suffering in the world?"

    I'd LOVE to find out where that can be found online... :D

    • by Black Art (3335)
      I have a copy of that somewhere. It appeared around 1998-99 in some computer magazine. I had that posted in my cube years ago. It should be in all my old cube stuff from that era. (Packed in a box and forgotten...)
  • by NormalVisual (565491) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:01PM (#19522847)
    My favorite ad was one I received in the mail from Genicom back in 1992 or 1993. It consisted of a medium-size green box with the following text on the front: "I dunno what happened. The printer was working just fine a minute ago". Open the box, and there was a real Stanley ball-peen hammer fastened inside, and "Deny everything" on the inside of the box lid. I still have the hammer, BTW. :-)
  • I have a huge stack of old Byte magazines at home - I've been lugging them around since high school. Those were the best - they covered hobby computing, hardware, software, programming, you name it. The ads were also great.

    Hmm... I came in here to brag, but now I suddenly just feel very old.
    • by sconeu (64226)
      Yeah, but they started downhill when they dropped Steve Ciarcia's Circuit Cellar. Yeah, I know he started his own mag for it, but it was the beginning of the end for Byte. The second sign was abandoning the cool covers for photos instead.
  • Antique ads! Cool! I wasn't aware there were a lot of computers being advertised prior to 1907. Are these ads advertising the services of pools of women who can take on tasks such as counting the number of Sears and Roebuck catalogs that were shipped?
    • by Vegeta99 (219501)
      Antique doesn't always mean 100 years :P

      In PA, it's 25 years for a car (you can get a permanent-registration antique car plate then)
  • by MS-06FZ (832329) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:46PM (#19523535) Homepage Journal
    The days of $12,000 80 MB hard drives and portable accoustic-coupler terminals are before my time - but not so far that the concepts seem completely alien. Accoustic couplers don't surprise me - I wanted one as a kid, but wound up getting a regular wired modem. I remember the time before internet e-mail was something I regularly used - when e-mail was something I could get only on BBSes, and therefore rather limited - so the idea of a time completely before e-mail doesn't surprise me either. And I remember when a 200 MB hard drive was a major investment - for me anyway - and before that when smaller hard drives than that were a big deal on a home computer.

    Likewise the notion of a laptop computer with the power of a PC XT, or any kind of big, heavy "portable" computer - my dad had a Commodore SX 64 when I was a kid, and I used to dream of having a real C-64 laptop.

    So probably this article has a much more potent effect on the kids who had internet e-mail when they were ten years old or younger, don't remember operating systems prior to Windows 95, never saw an Apple IIe or IIc... It's interesting stuff but it's not "hilarious"...
  • ...so 80 MB for under $12K indeed sounds good. Actually, 10 MB for $12,500 sounded pretty good because it was the brand-new just-out replacement for the previous model, which was 10 MB for $22,000 or thereabouts.

    It was the drive for a Datacraft 6024/5. The department only had a budget of about $30 or $40,000 for the thing, and we were very excited about the chance to get an actual disk drive and stay under budget... we'd been afraid we'd have to do it all with magnetic tape. [wisc.edu]

    The 10 MB consisted of a removabl

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