Nine vintage technology videos

The glorious days of yesteryear. Days that invoke memories of a passing golden age of computing, when advancements were still met with scorn and an air of disdain by the technology-wary public. Days that heralded the rise of the machine from its exploitation in the dismal factory world to its rightful place as an essential element of our brain anatomy.

Much to the chagrin of the purists who still maintain that, sooner or later, the Daleks and Terminators will be activated by some inevitable programming flaw, sparking the start of mankind’s enslavement by machine.

Well, despite all the advancements into artificial intelligence, we haven’t quite reached the point whereby our technology has surpassed our intellect. Or, has it? Our inability to perform common tasks without our mobile phones, iPods, tablet computers, notebooks, eReaders and gaming consoles is proof that the modern day user is somewhat dependent on technology and at times a slave to it. Okay, so no Daleks yet and we still haven’t reached the flying car stage but it is an undeniable fact that our technology has progressed at a super rapid pace within the space of a mere five decades.

Looking back now at some of the pioneers in computing, mobile, software and peripherals and the early ads from yonder-years and it invokes a humorous chuckle. From the eerily looking Univac to the early IBMs and Ataris, from the huge brick-like “pocket mobile phones” to the revolutionary portable compact disk in the eighties to the Polaroids, dial up internet connections, gaming consoles and early operating systems, the ads are often accompanied by hilarious commentary.  We’ve taken a step back in time to bring you a list of nine vintage videos in technology. Who knows, in a few years time, even the iPads and tablets will seem like a technology of yesteryear:

  1. Univac Computer Commercial – 1956:
    The world’s first commercial computer was the monstrous Univac designed by American machines manufacturer Remington Rand. Capable of  accurate weather forecasting, the ability to process over twelve thousand characters per second and make over two thousand mathematical calculations per second the computer was a revolution for its time, even able to check itself for errors. Check out the informative fifties video below:
  2. IBM 5100 First Portable Computer commercial – 1977:
    The first portable computer weighed “only around 50 pounds” (about 23kg), had a 16-bit processor and 64K RAM and handled disk tapes. I find it interesting how early marketers played off on the multifaceted business angle, making it seem that the 5100 was the intelligent choice for your business. Although, admittedly, I shudder at the idea of it being used in flight testing!
  3. Vintage Atari 800XL computer ad with Alan Alda – 1984:
    The American actor Alan Alda offers a college student advice on how he might convince his parents to buy him an Atari 800XL but without all the technical jargon while the overeager student prattles on: “I’ll tell them its expandable with serial link peripherals like modems and disk drives”
  4. 8855 Polaroid Commercial – 1950s:
    This ad for the ten second automatic Polaroid camera is ridiculous and painful to watch. As the presenter points out the three buttons numbered ‘one’, ‘two’ and, (you guessed it), ‘three’, Maggie, his hapless female accomplice seems all the more nervous just being there. The ad is teeming with sexism as the presenter remarks “This is a camera that women will certainly like to” and ends off with a “you did all right too” after Maggie takes a Polaroid shot. Seriously, was he expecting her not to?
  5. News Story on Debut of the Compact Disc (CD) – 1984:
    This1984 video heralds the debut of the compact disc in the US. I can’t but help marveling at how my current iTunes library exceeds both the music enthusiast’s LP and CD collections. Worth a watch, if only to remind yourself of how far we have come in terms of music and perhaps, also, to remind ourselves of why the eighties was the decade of really bad haircuts.
  6. MSN Premier Dial-Up Internet Service commercial – 1997:
    In an era of broadband, wireless and 3G connectivity, it’s rather bizarre watching ads offer dial-up internet access. It’s also hard to believe that a mere thirteen years back, Microsoft’s Network dial-up commercial would have seemed like a worthy option for online connectivity.
  7. Vintage Ericsson Cellphone Commercial – 1996:
    In a classic twist of misinterpreted communication – and being able to hide a fairly large mobile phone mainly because your hair is unmistakably big – the unknowing male protagonist  easily mistakes the wily conversation as flirting, only to be let down at the end:
  8. Apple Computer Ad – Mac & Windows 95 – 1990s:
    Apple and Microsoft rivalry really took off once Windows became the preferred operating system. Apple responded with some clever and tacky ads, aiming to uproot the dominant seat held by Microsoft. This tongue-in-cheek ad pays homage to the age old rivalry:
  9. Apple Macintosh – 1984:
    The commercial that introduced Apple Mac to the world, was also the most expensive ad to shoot at the time and was directed by Ridley Scott. Yes, the same director who gave us Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator. The ad aired during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII and was an instant success with its allusions to George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” dystopian future. Saving the world from the conformity of “Big Brother”, the successful ad has been considered a watershed event and set the tone for Apple’s advertising campaigns ever since:



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