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Retro/Oldschool Computer Tech Commercials

With lighting fast connections, VPS hosting, CGI animation and more,  computer technology has certainly come a long way in only a few decades. And though we may like to complain about failed OSes and hardware, looking back at some of these often hilarious computer commercials from the 1970’s and 80’s really goes to show how far we’ve really come.

Before the Wii, there was the Magnavox Odyssey (1973)

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In the early 1970s, Magnavox was an innovator in the home video game industry. The Magnavox Odyssey was the world’s first home video game system and was released to the market in 1972. This predated the Atari Pong home consoles by three years.

IBM 5100: First Portable Computer Commercial (1977)

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The IBM 5100 Portable Computer was a desktop computer introduced in 1975, six years before the IBM PC. It had a 16-bit processor and 64 KB of memory was the size of a small suitcase and weighed about 55 lb. The 5100 sold for between $8,975 and $19,975.

Atari Video Game Commercial with Don Knotts (1978)

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The Atari 2600 (released in 1977) popularized the use of micro-processor based hardware and cartridges containing game code instead of having non-microprocessor dedicated hardware with all games built-in. The console was originally sold as the Atari VCS (Video Computer System). The unit was originally priced at US$199, and shipped with two joysticks and a Combat cartridge.

Magnavox Computer Commercial (early 1980’s)

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“Say goodbye to typing mistakes!” Video writer was the first word processor which erased mistakes on screen before they appeared on paper.

Commodore 64 Ad (1982)

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The Commodore 64 was an 8-bit home computer introduced in 1982. The first machines cost $US 595 and from 1983–1986, the C64 dominated the market with between 30% and 40% share and 2 million units sold per year. For three years straight, C64 was outselling IBM PC clones, Apple Inc. computers, and Atari computers.

“1984”: The First Apple Macintosh Commercial (1984)

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The original concept of “1984” was to show the fight for the control of computer technology as a struggle of the few against the many. Its only daytime televised broadcast was on January 22, 1984 during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII. “1984” used the unnamed heroine to represent the coming of the Macintosh as a means of saving humanity from conformity (Big Brother).

Atari 800XL Commercial with former M*A*S*H star Alan Alda (1984)

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Atari’s first two computers were the Atari 400XL and 800XL. These computers had a large assortment of “Intelligent” peripherals which communicated through a custom bus called the “SIO” (Serial I/O)– a rather simplistic version of the USB (Universal Serial Bus) today.

Steve Ballmer Sells Windows 1.0 (1985)

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Who would have thought that this commercial came from one of the richest and most powerful companies in the world. As Steve Ballmer barks out these… ahem… awesome Windows features like “the clock”, it’s really quite incredible to see how far we’ve come in a few decades.  Now any business can keep track of all their client information with a hosted CRM.

Compaq Commercial with John Cleese (mid to late 80’s)

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Compaq was founded in February 1982 by Rod Canion, Jim Harris and Bill Murto, three senior managers from semiconductor manufacturer Texas Instruments, who invested $1,000 to form the company. Compaq produced some of the first IBM PC compatible computers.
(Here’s another Compaq commercial because seriously, who can get enough of John Cleese?)

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Q-Link Promotional Video (1986)

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Quantum Link (or Q-Link) was a U.S. and Canadian online service for Commodore 64 and 128 from 1985 to 1994. QuantumLink software allowed you to access and keep free programs, exchange messages with computer experts, chat with people and play games with other subscribers around the country. Q-Link was specially designed for Commodore computers. In October 1991, it changed its name to America Online, and continues to operate its AOL service for the IBM PC and Apple Macintosh today.

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