Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

A History of Computers, As Seen in Old TV Ads 123

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the early-days dept.
Tiny Tuba writes "PC World's Harry McCracken pulls together a compendium of vintage PC commercials posted on YouTube. There are commercials from the 1980s right up to the present. If you are looking for a laugh, you will have fun with the Atari 400, Commodore 64 and more." Worth it for the Shattner Vic-20 commercial alone, but the others are well-picked too. Naturally, the Apple 1984 commercial is included.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

A History of Computers, As Seen in Old TV Ads

Comments Filter:
  • Shattner? (Score:4, Funny)

    by WilliamSChips (793741) <full,infinity&gmail,com> on Monday October 16, 2006 @09:04PM (#16462055) Journal
    Khan! KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!
  • He missed... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday October 16, 2006 @09:07PM (#16462093) Homepage Journal
    ...the best ad EVER!

    Are You Keeping Up With The Commodore? [youtube.com]

    I guarantee you'll have that stupid jingle stuck in your head for DAYS! (BWHAHAH!) I even named my most recent blog article [youtube.com] after it. ;)
  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Monday October 16, 2006 @09:09PM (#16462109)
    There was a few comericals for Prime Computer with Dr. Who. I wish I could find a link for them.
    Those were some serious adds.
  • by digitalderbs (718388) on Monday October 16, 2006 @09:16PM (#16462185)
    A more interesting progression is in the increase in pr0n quality on computers. You can't beat the classics [asciipr0n.com] .
  • by RavensDark (321683) on Monday October 16, 2006 @09:17PM (#16462197) Homepage
    I thought it was funny until I found an Atari 400 in the shed......and then tripped over the Commodor 64.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by skoaldipper (752281)
      Ahhh. The good 'ole 400. That flat plastic keyboard of mine had more stains on it than a butchers apron. And that snazzy tape drive made more screeches and moans than a hyenna making love to a chainsaw as it booted up my favorite game Loadrunner. Good times. Good times, my friend.
      • by bxbaser (252102)
        Gotta love that keyboard on the 400 I havent used one for over 25 years, but my fingertips have retained thier hardness due to constant pokeing on that flat piece of plastic.
      • by pimpimpim (811140)
        http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseekid.cgi?id= 0 002912 [worldofspectrum.org]

        Happy gaming! I didn't found out if the save function works (was there any), so every time you have to play from level 1, which is a bit tiresome with its 80 levels or so :D

        It's still the best game around, easy to play, you have to puzzle a bit at each new level, great great fun.

  • Amiga Commercial (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OakDragon (885217) on Monday October 16, 2006 @09:25PM (#16462285) Journal
    Here is one [youtube.com] I had downloaded some time ago from somewhere, and recently put up on YouTube. Featuring: Tommy Lasorda, the Pointer Sisters, Chuck Yeager, and 'Tip' O'Neil!
    • Yeah, they had a ton of celebrity endorsements for the Amiga back in the day...

      I remember watching a video at Software Etc. / Babages that had B.B. King and Andy Warhol using their Amiga computers to create art and music. After seeing that, I knew I had to have one. :D

      This whole thing makes me a bit nostalgic and sad at the same time as I am reminded how something once great was lost to corporate greed... :-/

      People should realize that the PC's at the time were 286's with cga/ega graphics and a PC speaker fo
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by snuf23 (182335)
        "Yeah, they had a ton of celebrity endorsements for the Amiga back in the day..."

        Well by the time Little Richard and the Pointer Sisters got involved it was more like celebrity whore endorsements. I doubt Little Richard ever used an Amiga.

        The launch with Andy Warhol creating a portrait of Debbie Harry using a digitizer and an early Amiga art program was pure class though.

        I remember being pissed at Commodore for the crap marketing they did on the Amiga in the late '80s. The premium edition of Amiga Forever [amigaforever.com] i
        • by Narmi (161370)
          Too bad they didn't have the one that ended with the line "I'd like to see you do that with your Tandy, Andy." I still have that somewhere on an old Beta or VHS tape.
  • Did Ballmer ever have hair? LOL
  • Does anyone remember that old Apple commercial with the 1 second glipse of an Ant Farm on a kid's desk? Does anyone know where that can be found online? I had no luck with various Apple video ads. sites, YouTube, etc. I think the ad was about education with Apple II GS computer.

    Thank you in advance. :)
  • by antdude (79039) on Monday October 16, 2006 @09:43PM (#16462429) Homepage Journal
    Cool video: A 15 minutes YouTube video [youtube.com] showing off the Amiga 500, also known as the A500. It was the first "low-end" Commodore Amiga 16/32-bit multimedia home/personal computer. It was announced at the winter Consumer Electronics Show in January 1987, at the same time as the high-end A2000, and competed directly against the Atari 520ST.
  • I haven't seen most of these (I'm 23 so I missed the early computer age). I really like the Kaypro ad, and the IBM commercial with "Chaplin" is quite good also. That said, the commercial with the M*A*S*H cast is just a disaster (as the article mentions).

    I wonder what a computer commercial by Michele Gondry would be like.

    PS: Isn't it weird to see commercial after commercial, year after year, using the same 3 talking points? "Helps your kids in school", "Faster", and "Better value"?

    • Those were the big selling points in the day. Owning computers was supposed to make us all super geniuses. Parents had to buy their kids a computer if they didn't want them to become bums living behind the supermarket and begging people for change.
      • by Scoth (879800) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:21AM (#16464015)
        Yeah, instead we became bums living in their basement begging for more chips
      • by MBGMorden (803437)
        Yep. My mother recants stories of her watching TV ads back when I was a baby (I was born in '81). She'd sit there and cry because they couldn't afford a computer and because "He isn't gonna be able to do anything without a computer.".

        I ended up getting a used Commodore 128 when I was 9 or 10, which I learned BASIC on. Ended up majoring in CompSci and am a programmer now :).
        • My mother recants stories of her watching TV ads back when I was a baby (I was born in '81).

          She withdrew her heretical stories? Or did you mean to say recounts?

          (Remember, kids: diction is important!)

    • by pyster (670298)
      Not really. Who wanted the computers? Kids. Who was buy the computers? Parents. That marketing made the c64 the best selling computer of all time.
  • Having never (to my recollection) seen this on TV (not a follower of the Superbowl), I'd say the best part of the ad is the bouncing boobs....... Or the Futurama parody ad.....
  • by Slithe (894946) on Monday October 16, 2006 @09:57PM (#16462527) Homepage Journal
    [blockquote]Q: Where are these commercials from?
    A: The U.S., as far as I know. Rule one of European computer commercials: They're too dirty for American TV.
    [/blockquote]

    The commercial [google.com] that they link to is definitely something that could be shown on television. I have seen FAR worse than that. Granted, the U.S. certainly has worse decency laws than Europe (I remember seeing a water-bottle commercial involving a woman swimming naked in a submerged room), but censoring that would just be ridiculous.
    • Granted, the U.S. certainly has worse decency laws than Europe (I remember seeing a water-bottle commercial involving a woman swimming naked in a submerged room), but censoring that would just be ridiculous.

      I think what happens is a combination of ACTUAL fear of government fines (i.e. fear the FCC will come after you, as they did after the Janet Jackson 'scandal') and fear people will get all up-in-arms and protest. The end result is that a TV station may not show a potentially indecent commercial, whethe

      • I work in Television, and it's true that there's some of both. In general though, the staff of most station wants to, and is willing to occasionally annoy conservatives. Honestly, they're much more willing to annoy conservatives than liberals, but that's another story... The real problem is the FCC. Since The Shrub took over, no one really knows what the rules are. Every broadcaster in the country has begged the commission for clear guidelines on what is and is not permissible. The FCC's response is essen
    • by htnprm (176191)
      Just a slight sidetrack re: American commercials. We had some family visit (To NZ, from the US), and a soap commercial came on with a woman lathering up in the shower. Nothing too raunchy, though you see a bit of bum cleavage for a sec, and the family said "Wow. Your commercials sure are a bit racy here". Um...Okaaaay.
      • Bum cleavage is quite prohibited on US broadcast TV. About all that is shown in soap commercials of women lathering up is the head, back, and lower legs.
        • by rubycodez (864176)
          it's sillier than that, there have been bun cleavage shots in comedy movies on broadcast tv that weren't censored, but apparently anything that might be construed as an erotic situation is taboo. go figure.
  • Each day just get better, there's no doubt, each day he sweat a lot more...

    I can't wait for Windows Vista Release Press Conference

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Before the IBM PC, there were quite a few computers that were taken seriously. A lot of things were developing in interesting ways. There was progress. Some of them were good at graphics, some were good at video, some could do decent music, some were actually decent business machines, some had GUIs. Then the IBM PC came along with its bad graphics (a Hercules monochrome card was considered an upgrade) and we got a command line monoculture for the next ten years. Even by 1990, getting AutoCAD and Animat
    • Hardware should be a standardized commodity.

      Software should not.

      I blame MS, not IBM.
      • by Cadallin (863437)
        I tend to agree with you, but on the other hand, I don't really see a problem with there being multiple competing Hardware architectures. Was it really so bad to have both x86 and POWER? Or x86 and 68K? On that note does anybody know anything about the Chinese MIPS clone that was being talked about a year or two ago? I can see something like that being really neat to play around with. Although a lot of people would probably prefer POWER, if there was the opportunity for cheap MIPS based RISC hardware t
      • by tehcyder (746570)
        I blame MS, not [...]
        I think that goes without saying on slashdot.
    • by pimpimpim (811140)
      It was kind of like the giant foot came down from the sky and squashed Bambi.

      References: full version [youtube.com], and a shorter compilation [youtube.com].

  • He should be here since EVERYONE KNOWS Microsft is your computer... Actually his Windows 1.0 Commercial reminded me of the used car salesman commercials on the Sunday Afternoon Western's :)
  • Naturally, the Apple 1984 commercial is included. naturally, i had no idea there was such a thing as a computer commercial snob.

    :P

    • Naturally, the Apple 1984 commercial is included.

      naturally, i had no idea there was such a thing as a computer commercial snob.

      The Apple "1984" commercial [wikipedia.org] is considered to be one of the greatest advertisements of all time, in any product category. Indeed it is standard curriculum in marketing classes at colleges & universities around the world.

  • Am I the only person who thinks the 1984 apple commercial's current status in history is nothing but revisionist bs? It wasn't talked about and was completely forgotten until the mid 90s. I don't find it artistic enough to merit the reverence that seems to surround it. It's like one guy wrote an article about it in the 90s and everyone bought into it like all the great things people had to say about Ronald Regan.

    Somehow, I think a Commodore commercial would be everyone's honest favorite, after all, it is
    • by snuf23 (182335)
      I thought the Apple ad was HILARIOUS when it came out. The whole world is totally gray, with poor pale people in gray suits watching their leader on the black and white screen. All of a sudden a burst of color! Here comes Apple chick in hot pants to save the day!
      The funny part was that this ad was used to sell the launch of the Macintosh computer. A computer that at launch was strictly monochromatic.
      The Apple 2 was more literally a more colorful computer than Mac.
      I thought the early Macs were neat except fo
    • by Lord Kano (13027)
      Am I the only person who thinks the 1984 apple commercial's current status in history is nothing but revisionist bs?

      I'm sure that other people who weren't old enough to remember agree with you.

      I couldn't afford one in those days, but I was aware of the Macintoshes since about 1988.

      It's like one guy wrote an article about it in the 90s and everyone bought into it like all the great things people had to say about Ronald Regan.

      I can only assume that you mean Ronald Reagan. Although I bordered on hating him whe
      • by pyster (670298)

        Am I the only person who thinks the 1984 apple commercial's current status in history is nothing but revisionist bs? I'm sure that other people who weren't old enough to remember agree with you.

        I was 15 when this Ad aired. I recall zero buzz around it. The media ignored. The masses ignored it. The geeky afterskewl computer club i belonged to ignored it. You might be one of the 2 people who saw and paid attention to this spot.

        It's like one guy wrote an article about it in the 90s and everyone bought in

        • by Lord Kano (13027)
          I was 15 when this Ad aired. I recall zero buzz around it. The media ignored. The masses ignored it. The geeky afterskewl computer club i belonged to ignored it. You might be one of the 2 people who saw and paid attention to this spot.

          I guess that the New York Times and the Cannes Film Festival [nytimes.com] are two bit outfits that don't matter.

          Yeah, Reaganomics were just great. Have to love inflation. The war on drugs. The iran-contra. affair. Aliens. Psychics. His civil rights history was just awesome. middle america
          • by pyster (670298)
            http://www.angelfire.com/co/COMMONSENSE/reagan.htm l [angelfire.com] - Cowboys and Idiots - The Reagan Years. Voter turn out/popularity were not bone of contention. Painting the guy as some great president on the other hand was.

            Mainstream American gives a rats ass about the Cannes Film Festival. Ask your average American what films have been shown there and they will shrug their shoulders. The 1984 commercial was mostly ignored/unseen/forgotten by the 80's populous. I'm sure afew papers wrote articles about it, buried in
    • I certainly remember a huge buzz when the ad was aired. Partly because it was a one off, never to be repeated but also because it was so damn spectacular. The Mac itself was less interesting, sort of a "that's looks neat, better back to my CGA PC/CBM 64/Atari 800 then." The Mac was a bold step forward. Most people didn't know about Xerox Parc so the whole WIMP thing was new to them but what was less obvious was how that would come to dominate the way we interacted withour computers. Back then you used a mou
      • I remember this time period as well, but I think I missed being involved in it first-hand by just a couple years or so. At the time the Mac was first introduced, I was avidly reading computer magazines like "Byte" that covered it in detail, and I had a friend who owned an Apple //e. But my only real hands-on computer experience other than that seemed to be Radio Shack TRS-80 machines. The school I was going to had a lab of Model III's and my neighbor down the street owned one too. Another neighbor spent
    • These ones are much more recent but they make me laugh every time I see them... but it might just be me!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpY2Ei02lKI [youtube.com]: Powerbook

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHWDAomz2CY [youtube.com]: I Mac
  • One of my favourites was quite a recent (about 3-4 years ago) IBM advert aired in the UK (don't know about US). It starts out with an emergency board meeting at a big corporate firm and evidently some vital part of the corporations infrastructure is offline. Lots of buck passing is heard, something like: "The network center says it's a database problem and the database people say it's a web site problem...", "So what do the web designers say?", "We don't know, they've gone snowboarding..."

    This was very funn
    • I remember seeing it a few times here in the US as well.
    • I particulary liked the Magic server Pixie Dust and The Universal Business Adapter.

      the UBA ad featured a group of suits in a board room, with this blob that had every sort of connector imaginable on it. "the Universal Business adaptor allows you to connect any system to anyother system" the suits then start to question " sytstem x to y with z, a, b, and c" yes is the responce."does it work in Europe?" ... you need an adapter.

      Also particulary memorable was the iMac ad with the Rolling Stones song "she comes
  • The Ballmer one is my favorite. He really fits the part of the infomercial guy. The overall theme of all those ads, however, is that it's pretty mindboggling how primitive those graphics actually were knowing what computers are capable of today. Sometimes it's sort of unbelieveable in the context of the ads, for example the Charlie Chaplin PC junior ad, and how his rollerskate business is somehow improved %100 by a drawing of a rollerskate that looks like something done on an Etch-a-Sketch. Anyhow, I'm al
  • Harry McCracken

    This must be Phil's brother.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:25AM (#16463681)
    My parents didn't really know what a computer was, they just knew that my brother and I wanted one. I had dreams of building an intelligent computer that could talk to me like War Games. So, when the flyer came in the mail that we would get a free Commodore 16 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodore_16 [wikipedia.org] if we drove 3 hours south to visit a Time Share resort, I begged and pleaded until we were on the road.

    To make a long story short. They had to send us the computer in the mail as they didn't actually have them in stock. So the long drive drive, and Time Share presentation we endured was frustrating in the end... But a few weeks later I was saving my first madlibs program on a tape drive, and truly enjoying life.

    This lead me to my first Commodore 64, and then the 128. I made silly games like Box Hunters and Iron Clad that used the amazing sprite animations available on the 128. I thought I was a genius...lol

    My God I loved my Commodores. I still do. BBS's.. Ghost Busters, Winter Games, Mission Impossible, Overkill... I could go on, but I bet MANY of you had the same experiences. Times will never be like that again. That feeling of having a keyboard in your hands and thinking that somehow you are going to give your computer AI with the BASIC computer language... The thought of downloading software over your phone line, and playing games with people you couldn't see...

    I think I'm going to cry.

     
    • by Hanul (533254)
      I started with a Commodore 128 in 1985. I recently put it up on a desk again for playing with a new cartridge, the Prophet64. Funny, how there is still new software for this computer being made.

      A lot of afternoons were "wasted" with Epyx' Games series, sitting there with friends trying to establish new records... It looks like for a not so small percentage of people growing up in the 80s the defining factors were films like "War Games", Weird Science" and a Commodore computer :-)
    • by ptegan (838775)
      Ahhh, I remember back in 198? when my folks came back from an Xmas trip to the UK and brought my back a C16 which cost £50 at the time and was £5 over the customs limit between Ireland and England. It was a great little machine, and the hours of typing code from computer mags and the fun of figuring out how the code worked and altering it to my own needs. Years later I asked my dad for a C128 but ended up with an Amiga 500 instead. To be honest, I don't think I'd be living the life with the jo
    • by CharlieG (34950)
      It was Impossible Mission - Not Mission Impossible

      "aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh"

    • by chord.wav (599850)
      Commodore 16??...boy and I thought I was old school :)

      Another visitor. Stay a while...staaaayyyforeveeeerrrrRRR!!
    • by spun (1352)
      Well, I started on a TRS-80 Model I, not a Commodore 16, but that was the family computer. My first computer that was just mine was a Commodore 64. Remember the big tech book that told you what every location in ROM was for? I knew that computer better than any other computer I've ever worked with.

      You forgot some of my favorite games, though, like The Temple of Apshai series, all the Infocom games, Loderunner, Ultima II & III, Bard's Tale, Wizardry, and Adventure Construction Set. I was on lots of BBSs
      • by Cybrex (156654)
        Odd question: Was the AI program you got out of a magazine called "AVAIL" (A Very Artificial Intelligence Lesson)? I can't recall if it was from Run or Compute!'s Gazette, but I spent hours with that freaky little program, mostly trying to get it to say nasty things. :-)
        • by spun (1352)
          I don't remember, I think it was a version of Eliza. Was AVAIL an Eliza clone?
          • by Cybrex (156654)
            It was, if you can believe this, a dumbed-down variant of Eliza that appeared in the back of a magazine. The program was in BASIC and as I recall was fairly short. It pretty much broke down what you told it into phrases, stored them, and then remixed and regurgitated them back to you.
            • by spun (1352)
              That was probably it then! What I remember typing in was a dumbed down version of Eliza written in BASIC that I found in the back of a magazine. It worked exactly as you say, which is pretty much how Eliza works, only Eliza knowe far more phrases. Good times, good times.
  • Does anyone know what that music was in the background of those commodore commercials?
  • Man, I used to watch all those demo videos that came on the Windows 95 CD over and over back when it came out, but it wasn't until I saw it again just now that I noticed something: in the last scene when it says welcome to Windows 95 and has the new-fangled Start button under it to demonstrate the big new idea of the OS, it's a black cursor that comes out to click it! That's right, it's a black cursor, not a white one, so that means the animator must have been thinking about Macs in his head!

    Oh the ironing!
    • If he made it to eventually be broadcast on TV, he may have made the mouse cursor black to make it more readable on a light background. Those are the silly things ya gotta do for broadcast graphics.
  • Microsoft sure got greedy in the last 20 years...
  • http://youtube.com/watch?v=QRETD2BtDZI [youtube.com]

    Does anybody else remember this ad? I guess it was kind of late in the Commodore 64's life cycle, but I swear I used to see this ad several times a day. When my friends saw that I had a Commodore 64, they'd mockingly sing the jingle, which indicates just how well-known it was, at least where I lived.
  • Remember that 30 minute long informercial for the Macintosh? It must have been around the early-mid 90s
  • I love these little educational essays illustrated with video. Since we are such a visual generation when you count TV, movies, and games, I suspect educational material will be revolutionized by embedded video. Video gives life to the still media of text. Hypertext splits monolithic video streams into interactive chucks (better than DVDs). I suspect we are going to see some very creative essays and artworks in this new media soon.
  • I'm not sure it was a Vector Graphic, but something like that in the 1980s. I remember that the computer was up on a stage and there was some applause or something and a man who said "What a mind" and then a woman says "what a body." Hilarious at the time, no doubt ultra-camp now. Probably the Vector 4 [old-computers.com]

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky

Working...