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Gallery of Past Tech (and Other) Advertising 55

theodp writes "The Vintage Ad Browser takes you back to the days when Google conjured up images of Barney Google (1948). When the hip music player was a Walkman (1982). When Osborne meant state-of-the-art in computing (1982). When Big Picture TV meant 12" (1948). When compact camera referred to a Pocket Instamatic (1972). And when wireless meant getting phone calls 300 feet from the house (1982)."
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Gallery of Past Tech (and Other) Advertising

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  • I have a personal favorite for an ad that makes no sense today and has to make you wondering what the people back then were thinking. I give you.... The Ode to Why [].

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Entropy98 ( 1340659 )

      Enron was thinking "I hope this makes people buy our stock!"

      From what I remember a lot of the ads from the dot-com bubble era would leave you scratching your head wondering what the company was selling, I guess its obvious now, soon to be worthless stock.

    • by himitsu ( 634571 )
      Does require enabling JavaScript to do anything useful?
  • Slashdot is giving an image-heavy site a fighting chance by posting another story 2 minutes earlier... but will it be enough to survive the slashdot effect?
    • by j_philipp ( 803945 ) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @01:42AM (#30712800) Homepage
      As the creator of the site, I'm hoping for the best :) For what it's worth, I'm using Amazon S3 for the storage of the images (which needs to be paid by bandwidth, admittedly, so I'll have to watch my costs closely), and due to caching there should be no database connections on any ad page once it has been viewed for a first time (unless I iterate the version of the site or clear the cache... never before searched queries do cause database connections, naturally). But none of this guarantess uptime during slashdotting... again I can just hope for the best!
      • Excellent site. Thanks for creating it.
      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

        Glad you made it. The really old stuff from the 1800s and before is fascinating. The one thing I wish you'd add is an ability to browse by date, without regard to subject, for those of us more interested in the when than the what. :)

        First one I followed back to the source was from the Duke University collection, so the accusation of being a glorified sidewalk sale is out of line. Seems to be any source, anywhere. So I think this will be a good resource both for research and for collectors.

        And it sure is int

        • Thanks for this feedback Reziac. A just-sorted-by-date section does make some sense, I will ponder what is feasible here in terms of navigation (one prototype of the site had a specially colored "Misc." section but I was not yet completely happy with it). Pls note you can already search by year (e.g. [1923], or in combo with a keyword) and you can search by decade by entering e.g. [1920s] or [1930s], and then page through the first 1,000 results.

          And you're right, sources are included independent of wheth
          • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

            Ah, you should probably put somewhere we'll see it that you can also search by year or decade, that would cover it adequately I think.

            I decided after some wandering around that I like the various tagging links found below each image. Tho I think you need a "key" on the About or FAQ page or wherever you keep such stuff -- at first I was baffled as to what "via" meant! Oh, it means source. D'oh!

            I do like the plain and simple interface. No distractions, no damned flash to argue with, just images to gawk at.


  • I've only skimmed the summary, but this is obviously just a bunch of ads. I only want to read about geeky products that don't cost anything!!!!1

    • Stop kicking me. All these tech products are long discontinued.
    • by suso ( 153703 ) *

      Wrong, the real ad is that the site links most of the ads to where you can buy the real ad on his ebay site. My boss at my day job bought a bunch of these and posted them around the room. Interesting, but at the same time, embarrassing to have posted around.

  • Oh wait, no they didn't []!

    ...and things have gone downhill from there [] too.

  • by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @12:10AM (#30712448)

    How useless. I went to the site, found an ad that seemed interesting and clicked on it. Nothing. No, I couldn't zoom in to be able to read the text. The only link is to ebay so I can buy it from the site owner. This is just one big stupid catalog of ebay sales.

    I am just about to put up some stuff on ebay to sell - I must remember to post the "story" here.

    • by j_philipp ( 803945 ) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @01:44AM (#30712814) Homepage
      I'm aware that unfortunately not all images have zooms going with them. Just some do, when you see the magnifying glass below them.
    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @01:49AM (#30712834) Journal
      I don't know, some of it is pretty cool. When I saw this one [], I was reminded that once RCA was a pretty cool company.

      Note to self: if you ever own a failing technology company, it's better to close up and try again than sell out.
      • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @01:52AM (#30712852) Journal
        I'd like to expand on that: I had an RCA VCR from 1988 that didn't give out until 2005, and that with fairly regular use. Its replacement didn't last three years. Sometimes when they say, "They don't make things like they used to" they are right, although the old VCR did cost a bit more.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by hwyhobo ( 1420503 )

          I had an RCA VCR from 1988 that didn't give out until 2005, and that with fairly regular use.

          Since I used to sell them, I can break it to you - they were made by Matsushita.

          • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

            Did Matsushita make all RCA's old stuff? It did seem to be fairly durable, back-when.

            I'm fairly biased toward their Panasonic brand myself -- mainly because it's durable. All my older still-working electronics are Panasonic; I've had some last over 30 years.

      • by fm6 ( 162816 )

        And if the thing had a decent search engine, or some kind commentary on organization, it would be worthwhile.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by j_philipp ( 803945 )
          There is a search engine, could you tell me what you searched for that didn't yield good hits? Maybe this can be optimized.
          • by fm6 ( 162816 )

            I didn't say there wasn't a search engine, I said there wasn't a decent one. The one they have just does string matching against descriptions. So if you search for ads that contain the word "hat" you get every ad that contains the word "that".

            A decent search engine would understand keywords and stemming.

            Yeah, I found some interesting stuff. I also had to sort through a lot of crap. Unless you're writing a term paper on the history of advertising, the site ceases to be interesting after a few minutes.

            • So if you search for ads that contain the word "hat" you get every ad that contains the word "that".

              Very valid point. I will put this on my todo list to figure out.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Warphammer ( 610896 )
        RCA was also bizarrely good at dropping the ball on technologies they had. RCA's Lancaster, PA plant made picture and TV camera tubes. My dad told me they had engineers come to the local ham radio club in the 70's and show off this tiny (for the time) CCD-based video camera they'd come up with, showing how it could take pictures by candlelight. If they'd commercialized that quickly, they could have extended their dominance of the TV station camera market into the 80's. The same plant was also home to the re
  • by theodp ( 442580 ) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @12:35AM (#30712556)

    "Next to my software, nothing's more user friendly than the Wall Street Journal." [] Undated, but obviously pre-Vista. :-)

  • []

    A lot of text in ads back then! Try publishing something like that these days and you'd get a response of "TL;DR".

  • by theodp ( 442580 ) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @01:39AM (#30712782)

    Circa-1984 IBM PCjr []

  • Remember when the 'Slashdot' mean 'News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters.'? Ah, those were the good ol' days.
  • Check out this advertisement and order your own amazing Intel 8080 powered "Interact" machine for your home. []

  • And when wireless meant getting phone calls 300 feet from the house (1982). If you go back a little farther wireless was any radio. Think Marconi, 1920s []. Got the nickname from being a "wireless" telegraph system.
  • The car industry is finally catching up to where it was in 1917 []. XD
  • After 1980, the amount of text plummets considerably. Even the wordy ones typically only have half a column of text. I wonder what caused this shift.
    • Same thing that causes every shift in advertising techniques. Some intrepid soul tried it, it worked, everyone else copied it. Most likely correlated with a significant downturn in publishing costs for images due to technological advances, although I'm too lazy to figure that out for sure.

      I actually prefer the snazzy images with no text for advertising purposes. Reading a bunch of words with no purpose other than extracting my money wastes far too much of my time. Tickle my visual cortex please!

  • I bought an Osborne 1 when they first came out... what an amazing deal! To quote Wiki, the bundled software "... had a retail value of more than US$2000." Both WordStar and SuperCalc were excellent applications... The screen refresh was amazingly fast for its time, since it was memory-mapped.

    The small screen sucked, but you could buy a Mondapt to use a larger monitor, though you still had to scroll horizontally to see a full 80-character row on the 52 column display. The keyboard sucked... but I hacked

  • I remember those wireless phones? We had an AT&T model back in 1984. It was on a frequency of 149mHz and it had a MUCH longer range than a mere 300 feet. Dad forgot he had it in his back pocket -he was wearing loose shorts with BIG pockets-while working in the garden and drove over to the local firehouse for a beer. (It was 84', you could do things like that back then. LOL! The vending machines had Budweiser.)

    Anyway, he was chatting when the phone rang and he answered it. Blah-blah, blah-blah, hu

  • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Monday January 11, 2010 @03:37AM (#30720658) Journal

    Not among them is an ad for Univac which Grace Hopper told a story about. When the photo for the ad was to be taken, two guys in lab coats were brought in, the women who ran the machine were ushered out, and the photo taken with the two stand-ins. Went looking, but couldn't find it.

    What I did find was something even more galling. The original ENIAC programming crew was six women. After its introduction the engineers, managers and even sales people (all men) became well known. The programmers were ignored. 40 years later Kathy Kleiman, a programmer herself who had been learning about the ENIAC team, was told that the women appearing in the photos were 'refrigerator ladies', models hired to stand in front of the machines. Having interviewed the ENIAC programmers still alive, she knew them to be women on the team. She and the remaining ENIAC prorasmmer4s are trying to raise money to produce a documentary on the subject: []

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva