'80 Mbytes of storage for under $12K!' and other IT ad favorites through the years

Elvira hawking development software, a computer with "briefcase portability," the cure for COBOLitis... Advertisements published in Computerworld since 1967 have promised all this and more. Here are 10 of the most entertaining IT ads from the archives for our 45th anniversary.

Such a deal

(May 16, 1977) You can purchase this 80MB disk system for less than $12k -- and even better, 300MB for under $20k!

Not very irresistible today, but apparently it was a bargain back when this was published. So good, in fact, that prices were valid only for resellers buying at least 40 systems.

Company: System Industries 


What the heck is electronic mail?

(Nov. 16, 1981) That's the question posed in this Honeywell ad, which explains: "Simply put, it means high-speed information transportation.

"One of the most advanced methods is terminals talking to one another.

"Your mailbox is the terminal on your desk. Punch a key and today's correspondence and messages are displayed instantly."

Who knew?

Company: Honeywell


It's 'versatile, dependable, compatible and maybe even sexy'

(Nov. 17, 1971) These modems are "all performers," this ad not-so-subtly boasts -- from 1,200 bit/sec. all the way up to 4,800 bit/sec. And only in the 1970s would you see an advertisement using a model in hot pants.

Company: Penril Data Communications


You can see words on the screen!

(Jan. 26, 1981) The software touted here runs "on most Z80/8080/8085 microcomputers with CP/M, 48K and terminal with addressable cursor."

Not only do you get all the features of a high-priced word processing system, but "with WordStar, you have a true screen image of what your printout will look like before you print it! With WordStar, you'll erase, insert, delete and move entire blocks of copy."

Cool, indeed!

Company: MicroPro International Corp.

Yourdon Press

Could you be suffering from ... COBOLitis?

(Nov. 13, 1978) "You say you don't know your process from your loop? Or your CASE from your GOTO? No doubt, you're suffering from COBOLitis," says this ad from the folks at Yourdon Press.

Company: Yourdon Press


Your very own mainframe!

(Nov. 9, 1981) "Everyone needs to use the computer? With The Personal Mainframe, up to 512 users can work interactively at their own terminals," says an ad for this system that touts computing availability beyond the glass-enclosed data center.

How do you know when you need this system? "When people are waiting in line for their applications. When some people need a decision-making tool and others need a number-cruncher."

Company: Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC)


What 'mobile' used to mean

(May 17, 1976) Well before the era of handhelds or even laptops came "briefcase portability." This system features interactive CRT terminal, control unit, keyboard, acoustic coupler and 5-in. video monitor.

Back in 1976, "portable" meant "able to be lugged around in a briefcase."

Company: Digi-Log Systems Inc.

Datatype Corporation

Remember these?

(May 17, 1972) Every office used to have them, but we haven't seen one in years. It's called a "typewriter." And in this ad, readers are told that a "little ball turns an ordinary Selectric typewriter into the only bilingual input device in the world.

"So, instead of a big, expensive data preparation center and the expensive personnel that go with it, all you need is a couple of Selectrics (which you may already have), a few DF-2 elements and our Optical Page Reader."

Company: Datatype Corp.


It's small and light at only 11+ lbs.

(April 6, 1987) "MultiSpeed is multi-talented. It's small. Light. And gives you the option of running at a clock speed of either 9.54 or 4.77 MHz," boasts this ad from NEC showing what a laptop of its day was like. It weighed in at 11.2 lb. with 640K of memory, dual 720K drives and five built-in programs.

Company: NEC Home Electronics


Mistress of the Dark

(Nov. 11, 1991) Remember Elvira, Mistress of the Dark? Besides appearing on TV in features like Elvira's Movie Macabre Halloween Special, Elvira also invited Computerworld readers to "cut through paper-based CASE [computer-aided software engineering] methods with LBMS" software.

"The scariest thing about CASE is the several hundred pounds of books that land on your desk and for which you've paid fifteen gazillion dollars, when you buy off on a CASE development methodology," she writes.

Company: LBMS

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