Behold the hot computer technology of 1985

What was it like to use a computer for chat, graphic design, banking or online shopping in the mid-1980s? What products were hardware and software companies building – and trying to sell? 

Recently at an estate sale, I came across a stack of old Family Computing and Compute! magazines from 1985 (and one from 1986), which I bought for less than a buck. The ads, articles, and imagery are fascinating for what they say about the state of personal computing, as well as race and gender in advertising, 30 years ago. The tacky outdatedness will also likely entertain you. A few of my favorites: an anti-piracy ad with a photo of a stereotypical white male businessperson who “doesn’t look like a common criminal”; an ad for the James Bond 007 floppy disk game encouraging readers to “Buy this disk and save the Silicon Valley… to preserve, protect and defend the valley that made us all what we are today”; and one for Omnibot, a household robot that supposedly that sounds too good to be true even in 2019.

Here are some photos (apologies for the glare – would love to get scans sometime). Click any of the images to view the full size. Enjoy!



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