[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Bill Cosby Loves the TI CC-40

July 15th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Texas Instruments TI CC-40 Compact Computer 40 Bill Cosby Ad - 1983"Try new metal puddin' pops!"

When looking at the Texas Instruments CC-40′s capabilities, one wonders why companies even bothered in making tiny portable machines like this one (see also the Epson HX-20, HP-75C, and TRS-80 Pocket Computer, among others) in the early 1980s.

Sure, each one came equipped with a gee-whiz wow factor, but most of these diminutive PCs proved impractical to actually use. Limited memory, restrictive and unreliable data storage, and tiny LCDs capable of displaying either one or a few lines of text almost ensured that these products would remain technological novelties.

(As an aside, the only computer of this circa-1983 portable class that I find to be practical and truly useful was the TRS-80 Model 100, which many journalists relied on for decades)

After giving the question considerable thought, I recently realized why they did it. Companies like TI spent untold millions upon millions of dollars on R&D, design, tooling, and production, distribution, and marketing so that collectors of vintage computers, like me, would one day have more and varied specimens to collect.

To those companies, I say this: Thank you for wasting your money to make my hobby more fun.

See Also: Bill Cosby Fondles a TI-99/4A (Retro Scan, 2006)

[ From Popular Computing, June 1983, p.129 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the smallest vintage computer you've ever used?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Apple Lisa and Apple IIe

January 21st, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Apple Lisa and Apple IIe on the cover of Popular Computing - March 1983APPLE'S BOLD NEW COMPUTERS IN ALL-CAPS

Thirty years ago last Saturday (January 19th, 1983), Apple announced two new computers: the Apple Lisa and the Apple IIe.

Ultimately, the Apple Lisa met an early end, leaving behind technology that shaped the entire industry. The Apple IIe remained a reliable breadwinner during uncertain times in the early life of the Macintosh and remained the flagship member of Apple's popular 8-bit computer line until it ended in 1993.

Here's the cover of the March 1983 issue of Popular Computing which featured Apple's two new machines. It has always been one of my favorite vintage computer magazine covers.

By the way, I recently wrote an article about this anniversary for Macworld in case you're interested.

[ From Popular Computing, March 1983, cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used an Apple Lisa? What did you think about it?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Baked Apple II

October 22nd, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Baked Apple Melted Burned Apple II computer with cat house fire Ad - 1982Two hours later, firefighters found Fluffy melted into the plastic.
(click image to see the full two-page spread)

There was a fire.

And a cat.

The computer melted.

A Beautiful Computer.

Oh, the curt, pretentious voice projected by Apple advertising in the 1980s. It almost revels in talking down to you. Just about every Apple print ad of the era uses a similar subliminal script. It goes a little something like this:

This is Apple.

We are amazing.

Really.

Don't get me wrong — I like Apple as much as the next guy, but man, wipe that smirk off your face.

Apple has come a long way since that time, from floundering near death to basking as the most valuable corporation in the world. The firm, like its co-founder Steve Jobs, suffered some hard knocks, and Apple's post-1997 advertising reflected that by gaining a little humility. Just a little.

In general, I like Apple advertising these days (except for that recent "Genius" campaign). The 1984-era smirk is long gone, although a hint of strategically placed pretension remains.

But hey — that's the way people like their Apple, and it shows: a record number of consumers keep buying their products.

More Melted Tech

Back in early 2011, I created a slideshow called "A Gallery of Melted Technology" for PCMag.com that features this ad and photos of similar melted gadgets. If you have the same morbid curiosity I do about melted technology, I think you'll enjoy that as well.

[ From Popular Computing, January 1982, p.8-9 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever lost or damaged a gadget in a fire? Tell us about it.

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Canon AS-100

July 23rd, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Canon AS-100 Microcomputer Ad - 1983The good, the bad, and the obscure.

There's a vast wilderness of little-known business micros that have long been overshadowed by the IBM PC and its brethren in the history books. Seen here is one such machine, the Canon AS-100, which sported an Intel 8088 CPU but was not an IBM PC clone (in other words, it could run MS-DOS, but was not hardware compatible with the PC).

Machines like this one tend to get overlooked historically because they were very expensive (this machine retailed for $3495 in 1983, or about $8,052 today) and they deviated from the emerging business standard of the IBM PC compatible. With those two elements combined, they sold relatively poorly — and, being business-oriented, they also never became notable gaming platforms (enthusiasm for retrogaming brings a lot of attention to certain classic PCs that otherwise might have been forgotten).

Speaking of gaming platforms, the color capabilities of this machine look amazing for 1983. I wonder if anyone ever did write a game for it that took advantage of those high-end graphical specs.

[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.36 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the most obscure computer model you've ever used? Something that you think no one has ever heard of.

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] "What's Wrong With Copying Software?"

January 21st, 2008 by Benj Edwards

SPA Anti-Software Piracy Ad

"…and that's why every time you copy M.U.L.E., a baby dies."

"Oh God, Bill. You're making me cry."

[ Scanned from Popular Computing, 1984 ]

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