Friday Fun: Tech Advertisements from a Simpler Time

Think your iPhone 5 feels ancient? Take a step back into the not-too-distant past and see just how far we’ve come.

In an era when Apple and Microsoft are touting revolutionary, magical feature upgrades seemingly every six months, it’s easy to get innovation fatigue. So, to get a little perspective on the technological achievements we turn our noses up at, here are some advertising gems from the infancy of tech.

This stuff is even more incredible when you consider that they were paying pretty much the same price ($599) for a home computer as you do now. Happy Friday!

cd-rom bill gates

Sounds impressive, but you’d be surprised at the compression ratio on a million page memo from Steve Ballmer that reads: “Developers, developers, developers…”

what the heck is electronic mail

Funny, but I still have that reaction whenever I get emails from customers at my day job.

no such thing as a nintendo

Mario did such a great job on this campaign, the folks at Coca-Cola hired him to educate southerners on soda pop nomenclature.

tandy trs-80

I was going to write something funny here, but I really can’t top the original copy. Whoever came up with the “cheaper than a moped” angle is the Don Draper of Tomorrow World.

commodore 64 executive

I’m trying to understand what kind of work a CEO in 1984 is doing on a screen that’s literally smaller than his mimosa.

morrows memory master thinkertoys

So, in sandwich economics, a $5 footlong gets you almost 1 KB. Nice.

record a call comet

They tout complete message recording as a feature, but I’d probably pay a little bit more if I could cut voicemails off at 15 seconds and blame technology.

vest pocket kodak

Imagine if Instagram started charging you a quarter for every eight pictures you took. Actually, I’d still probably take just as many pictures of breakfast potatoes.

introducing apple ii

Next time I complain about slow boot times on my laptop, remind me that at least I didn’t have to MOVE A TV before using my computer.

Do you remember any classic tech ads from the 20th century? Tell me about it in the comments and I’ll try to dig it up!



  1. infmom

    January 13, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    There was one for the Commodore 64 that showed what you’d have to add on to an Apple II in order to make it work like a Commodore 64. It was a shame Commodore didn’t do something along those lines with the Amiga and the IBM PC.

  2. infmom

    January 13, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    That’s the idea, all right, but the one I remember had the actual items attached to the Commodore 64.

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