The Psychedelic World of Old Computer Ads

I have a bunch of old copies of BYTE magazine and suchlike stashed away on my iPad which I sometimes like to have a read of when i can’t think of anything else to read. It’s kinda fun to see how crap and expensive everything was back then (thousands of dollars for a few megabytes of hard drive, hundreds for a network card) and some of the technical articles in those old BYTEs are still quite interesting in a nerdy kind of way.

Some of the ads though are quite bizarre. The juxtaposition of late 70s/early 80s fashions and the “high tech” of the day, often with egregiously trippy effects on top, makes for some quite amusing reading. I’ve a habit of snapshotting some of the weirder ones against the thought of maybe putting them in a blog entry one day. Well, this is one day, so here’s a few of them.

pervy looking guy

“Now Tommy, I’ve got some… very special… pictures on my computer, but you absolutely must never tell your parents or anybody that you’ve seen them, ok? So… would you like to see?”


“…and then I got myself a modem, and found this amazing place called Usenet, and found my way to and found out that actually I’m not the only one, I’m not alone in the world, there are others who love their stuffed animals just as much as I do, and in all the same ways! I’m so happy I found them!”


Mr. Perkins was so engrossed in the charts on his Compaq that he completely failed to notice the smouldering glances that were being exchanged between his boss Harry and Martha, his wife of six years. She gazed into his eyes, mentally loosening the knot of his voluptuous tie, while his brain worked overtime beneath his executive haircut, enumerating the ways he’d be stripping her assets between the spreadsheets later that night…


Dot matrix printers were often used by early 80s electro-punk bands as musical instruments. Their shrieking cadence fit well with the crude electronic bleeping and generally rubbish, out-of-tune vocals that characterised this brand of popular music back in those days. Here Elena Bootstrap of the Static Discharge poses with her prized Juki 6100. For the real pros, however, there was no instrument finer than the mighty Epson FX-80.

TI 994A

“…then there was my weird uncle Rupert, everyone was a bit scared of him. He always smelled slightly of piss and he had this weird computer, Lord only knows what it was, it wasn’t a Commodore or a Speccy or an Amstrad or anything, it was this big ugly thing with rubbish games and he would always ask us if we wanted to go down into his basement and play some games. And he’d waggle his joystick at us.”

Village People

“Look, Brian, not everyone in the Village People gets to prance around on stage and sing, ok? We’re a well-known band now. We’re crossing over into the mainstream, it’s not just the odd gig in the Lavender Club any more. So someone has to sit in front of the Altos and do the spreadsheets and keep everything together while the boys are out on the road and judging by the way you’re dressed I think that has to be you, Brian.”


“Hi. I hope you don’t mind us calling on you today but we’ve got some really important news that we’d like to share with you. Now… have you ever read the Book of Mormon?”


“You know I’ve been wondering if I should invest in one of those Rad-O-Shield anti-glare/anti-radiation overlays for my monitor. They do say that you can get cancer from the harmful radiation off a cathode ray tube and I’m sat in front of this one all day and come to think of it maybe I do have the brightness turned up just a tad high…”


“Oh wow, I knew ‘Psychedelia’ by Llamasoft was supposed to be a bit trippy, but I put on some Pink Floyd and smoked one of my brother’s funny cigarettes and now I feel like the entire top of my head is coming off. Oh wow… where can I get a llama jumper from?”


…yes I know I should be showing an interest on what little Johnny’s been doing with the Apple, we did get it to help with his homework after all, but I honestly haven’t got a clue what it’s doing at all and bloody hell I am so touching cloth right now, five more minutes and then I am absolutely going to have to get to the loo…


“yes I know the GBA SP hasn’t been invented yet so I think I’ll just camouflage myself and sit really still for a couple of decades and I’ll be playing Super Mario eventually.”

TI again

“…then after we’ve finished working on your scales on the TI Billy you can come and work out in my own personal private gym, it’s got weights and a treadmill and even a steam room – would you like to get all sweaty and steamy with me Billy?”


“I thought I’d be alone for ever but then I found Usenet and it’s so full of genuine, lovely people, I can’t believe I’ve found a young girl like you who appreciates the mature charms of an old man like me, but you’ve found me and I’ll never be alone any more…”

Steamy spreadsheet action

“I used to be just like those Neanderthals, running off scantily clad into the jungle for hot, passionate sex and unbridled usage of Visicorp products. But now I’ve discovered Profin and Scientology and damned if I’m not going to wear a nice suit and get a great haircut and get down to the serious business of salvaging this sector of the Galaxy. Ron says it’s our only hope.”


“Holy crap it’s some triangles. ON AN APPLE. Jesus fuck, look at those triangles. HEY, MUM, DAD! COME AND LOOK AT THESE TRIANGLES! Oh jeez, fucking hell, I’m ecstatic. We’re ALL ecstatic. WOW. Triangles on an Apple. We are just the fucking HAPPIEST FAMILY in the whole 80s right now. Un-fucking-believable triangles. I’m literally shaking with joy now. Dear God maybe it’s even a little bit sexual. Just fucking look at those green-ass triangles. Wait’ll we tell everyone in church about this.”

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