Old Computer Ads

This post has a very broad compendium of vintage (not old) magazine advertisements for computers.

Oldest computer ads | Top Design Magazine – Web Design and Digital Content

Aside from the trip down memory lane, for many of us, a few interesting nuggets pop:

  • Multi-column layout, especially three columns, looks jarring. I’ve become so accustomed to larger resolution text, that narrow, justified text looks really janky.
  • There’s so much text. I know these ran in magazines and newspapers, and we probably read less, etc. Still, contrast these ads with ads for computers now.
  • It used to be all about the features. Detailed specs and lots of numbers show up in these ads. Now, the focus is on actually doing stuff with computers, a fundamental shift.
  • Technology has really come down in price.
  • The gaming consoles deftly avoid mentioning the price, just the fun. You can almost hear the ads saying “pew-pew” and “woosh”.

Anyway, it’s a nice nostalgic look at where we’ve been.




  1. I think that the shift in computer advertising began in the early 1980s – the two examples that come to mind are Apple’s Macintosh advertisements, and IBM’s “Tramp” advertisements for its PCs. Yes, they had text, but they had much larger text than the spec sheets that used to pass for computer advertisements.

    If you can find it, read John Sculley’s autobiography Odyssey; remember that he was hired by Apple specifically because of his experience at Pepsi, and the thought that computers could become consumer goods.

  2. Interesting. You can see a trend in the ads from specialized machine to consumer product, especially with the gaming systems.

  3. Wow, the typeface, the model, everything about that ad screams 50s. Amazing how large computers were, and that one is probably pretty small for the time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.