[ Retro Scan of the Week ] At Home in High Heels

March 4th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Business woman on Family & Home Office Computing Cover October 1987"Pardon me, m'am, but your wall is glowing."

The cover of this October 1987 issue of Family & Home Office Computing is so sociologically charged that you could interpret it in dozens of ways — some of them seemingly contradictory.

The cover story and art are reflective of the 1970s women's movement in the US that empowered women to more freely seek careers outside of the home. And yet it's referring to a woman working from home — while wearing semi-formal business attire, nonetheless. (I'm not particularly equipped to critique women's fashion, but I can imagine that some women today would find the idea of working at home in this kind of outfit to be amusing.)

Plenty of people do office-style work from home these days, but in 1987, that was a very new concept. It was all made possible by advances in telecommunications and personal computers. But the concept brought with it many new challenges.

The lady seen here is a mom (see mug), and she has to worry about "juggling career and family," as the cover states — a tricky issue that will never fully be resolved in any decade. Does she care for her children during the day, or are they at school? Is she an employee or a business owner? Why did she choose an Epson-brand PC compatible machine?

While these are all very real concerns, in this case we can answer every question quite easily: she's just a model in a magazine cover shoot.

[ From Compute!, November 1985, p.33 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Do any women read this blog? [echo, echo…] What do you think of this cover image?

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[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Cheryl Tiegs: Queen of the GIF

January 25th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Apple I Smithsonian 1992 Retro GIFClick to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ] [ 4:3 Ratio ]

I've always thought of VC&G as sort of a family friendly blog, so I don't plan on delving into adult GIFs any time soon. But we might as well talk about bikini photos, because they were some of the most heavily traded GIF images in the BBS days. They provided culturally acceptable PG- or PG-13-level titillation, and male teenagers (arguably the primary users of BBS systems in many areas) flocked to them.

Just recently, I searched my GIF archives for the oldest GIF format bikini photo I could find. I came up with this image of Cheryl Tiegs in a file dated October 29th, 1987, which is only four months after the June 15, 1987 publication date of the first GIF specification (GIF87a, for those keeping track).

The image itself is derived from a photo taken by Walter Iooss Jr. for the 1978 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. The sharpness of the image suggests to me that it was scanned (vs. video captured), either with a flatbed or handheld color scanner, and likely from that issue itself.

I don't know who scanned it. It could have been Jim Maxey, who originated many GIF files in the format's early days, but since the image isn't tagged with his BBS information, I doubt it. Maxey also tended to work with video capture boards verses scanners at that time.

Regardless of who created this image, it's a nice, relatively tame example of 16-color EGA bikini art. Upon viewing it, you can almost feel its 1970s girl-next-door wholesomeness flowing out of your computer screen. And that's despite her see-through fishnet bathing suit, which was scandalous in 1978.

(Note that Tiegs' name is misspelled in the file name as "TEIGS")

[ Wondering what a GIF is? Read the introduction to this column. ]

Retro GIF of the Week Fact Box
Source File Name: TEIGS.GIF
Source File Date: October 29, 1987
Source File Format: GIF - 87a (non-interlaced)
Dimensions: 640 x 350 pixels (EGA)
Color Depth: 4-bit (16 color)
Origin Platform: IBM PC
Derived From: Scanned photograph taken by Walter Iooss Jr.
Creation Date: 1987
Artist: Unknown
If you know more about the origin of this image, please leave a comment.

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[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Meryl Streep Stares at You

November 26th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Meryl Streep Retro GIF - circa 1988Click to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ]

Long ago, scanners were rare and expensive. Consumer digital cameras were mostly non-existent — and those that did exist were impractical to use or expensive.

At the same time, many users possessed computers with (relatively speaking) high-resolution bitmapped displays that craved content. In time, those machines gained color capability and could display dazzlingly beautiful works of digital art.

[ Continue reading [ Retro GIF of the Week ] Meryl Streep Stares at You » ]

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IBM PS/2 25th Anniversary

July 10th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

IBM PS/2 25th Anniversary on PCWorld.com

25 years ago, IBM introduced the Personal System/2 (PS/2), a computer series that brought VGA, PS/2 ports, 3.5″ floppy drives, and more to the world of PC compatibles.

In honor of this anniversary, I wrote an article about the first set of PS/2 computers (released April 1987) for PCWorld.com.

One of my first PCs was an IBM PS/2 Model 25 — the famous all-in-one IBM PC that found its way into many homes and schools due to its relatively low price. The Model 25 is not mentioned in the article, however, because it was not a member of the original April 1987 lineup (I believe it launched later that year).

I hope you enjoy the piece.

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Macintosh II 25th Anniversary

June 8th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Macintosh II 25th Anniversary at Macworld

25 years ago this March (1987), Apple released the Macintosh II, the first open architecture Macintosh. Naturally, I've written a short feature about this pioneering machine over at Macworld.

While speaking with Michael Dhuey, the Apple engineer that conceived the Mac II, I learned that Apple patterned the Mac II after the 1977 Apple II, which sported the same sort of flexibility and expandability as the Mac II. That self-referential influence amazed me — especially coming from a company that recently institutionalized the practice of ignoring its own history.

But only two years after Steve Jobs resigned from Apple, the company had no problem making the un-Jobs move of both looking backward and opening up the Macintosh. The result changed the course of Macintosh history.

[ Continue reading Macintosh II 25th Anniversary » ]

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