February 4th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Apple, PowerBook, PowerBook 100, laptops, Smithsonian, Black History, African American, demographics, 1992
One big happy family — and a PowerBook (click to see entire ad)
It's Black History Month once again in the US, so I thought it would be timely to share this Apple PowerBook advertisement from 1992.
The ad appeared in the February issue of Smithsonian Magazine; I don't think it is a coincidence that it prominently featured people of African descent. It also prominently featured the PowerBook 100, which had just been introduced a few months prior in October 1991.
The obvious racial focus of this ad brings to my mind a couple of interesting, if racially-charged questions: What percentage of black Americans, historically, have used Apple products versus other computer brands? Do African Americans, like other demographic groups, have their computer or tech brands of choice?
Today, Apple is such a mainstream company that the answer to the first question is most certainly larger than it likely was in the pre-iPod era. It would be interesting from a cultural standpoint to peek back into private demographic customer studies that Apple no doubt commissioned at various points in its history.
As for an answer to the second question, I have no idea. But I would love to hear from African American computer users to find out.
[ From Smithsonian Magazine, February 1992, p.10-11 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite PowerBook model?
February 24th, 2009 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Black History, Jerry Lawson, African American, Obama, Fairchild, Channel F, cartridges, Videosoft, Atari 2600
In late 2006, I received a large collection of vintage computer magazines from a friend. For days I sat on my office floor and thumbed through nearly every issue, finding page after page of priceless historical information. One day, while rapidly flipping through a 1983 issue of Popular Computing, I encountered a photo that stopped me dead in my tracks.
There I discovered, among a story on a new computer business, a picture of a black man. It might seem crazy, but after reading through hundreds of issues of dozens of publications spanning four decades, it was the first time I had ever seen a photograph of a black professional in a computer magazine. Frankly, it shocked me — not because a black man was there, but because I had never noticed his absence.
That discovery sent my mind spinning with questions, chiefly among them: Why are there so few African-Americans in the electronics industry? Honestly, I didn't know any black engineers or scientists to ask. I tried to track down the man in the magazine, but all my leads ended up nowhere. I'd have to put the matter aside and wait for another opportunity to address the issue.
[ Continue reading VC&G Interview: Jerry Lawson, Black Video Game Pioneer » ]
January 19th, 2009 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Black History, Basketball, Atari, Atari 2600, Atari 800, African American, Obama, Boxing
Tomorrow, the United States will inaugurate its first black president, Barack Obama. In honor of this watershed moment in American history, I thought we should pay tribute to another African-American trailblazer: the first black video game character. After some searching, I believe I've found him.
[ Continue reading The First Black Video Game Character » ]