When you think of classic computers, you probably imagine the 1980s, complete with Matthew Broderick hacking mainframes and Anthony Michael Hall crafting Kelly Le Brock out of a barbie and modem. But it was really the 1990s when computers became ubiquitous in both the home and the office.
That’s why this collection of computer ads from the 1990s is both a fascinating and telling adventure into electronics history. In the ‘90s, it was all about processor speed and memory size, and the ads of the time weren’t short on such technical details.
This was also the era in which Steve Jobs was persona non grata at Apple and who, from 1988 to the mid '90s, launched NeXT, a powerful cube-shaped computer that sold for a healthy $6,500.
Meanwhile, Apple Computer, the company we now think of as leaders in ergonomic design, were selling beige PCs called the “Performa” at luxury retailers like Sears. The Apple ads of the time were long lists and paragraphs chock-full of aggressive l anguage around computational and graphics power. That’s because, at the time, Apple was hurting as a company as they attempted to sell expensive Macintoshes to businesses who could buy Windows PCs at a fraction of the cost.
You’ll also see a few other historical gems. At the time IBM and Commodore were still making computers, selling lower-cost models as systems meant for use in the home as an alternative to the more expensive, powerful machines people were forced to use in their offices.
It’s also worthwhile to note the clear design divide in the late 90s when Apple got their groove - and Steve Jobs - back, adding color and an organic feel to what had otherwise been a dull, plastic world of advertisements filled more with words and stats and less with simplicity.
If anything, it’s a fun look back to a time when stats mattered more than looks. And who doesn’t love looking at old ads?