All At Once – Red Devil Infomercial (1990s)

It has long been my position that the half-hour “Magic Bullet” commercial is the gold standard of infomercials. It hits all of the right notes of an infomercial: the hosts are enthusiastic to the point that you suspect they’re on an adjacent level of reality to the rest of us, there’s a strained attempt at…

A House That Has Not Been Built – 1991 Virtual Reality Report

I’ve been on a tight schedule lately but I wanted to take a minute to share this Primetime Live report from 1991 featuring virtual reality. There’s nothing really laughable or off-base about the report, which in itself is impressive; most of these ‘official’ reports of emerging technologies are the clunky equivalents of the chaperones dancing…

Terrified of Buttons – Kim Komando Infomercial (1990s)

Can you believe that there was a time when computers weren’t just not in our pockets, they weren’t even in our houses? Around the late 1980s these CRT behemoths, previously relegated to those eggheads on their college campuses, started making their way into homes across America – a transition which delighted children and befuddled adults…

You Didn’t Predict This – Psychic Friends Network (1990s)

Grammy-winning singer Dionne Warwick is probably as famous for her involvement with the Psychic Friends Network as she is for her singing and her philanthropy.  The Psychic Friends Network was a 1-900 number service that, for $3.99 a minute, connected a person with their personal psychic consultant in an ongoing ‘future-therapy’ session that helped that…

Squash Game Tonight – AT&T True Experience (1995)

The ’90s are full of ahead-of-its-time ideas, particularly when the internet is involved.  We could not wait to make the internet our slave, and were simultaneously just as eager to create a critical umbilical between our lives and the internet that could barely tolerate any disruption.  Windows 95 was full of ways to plug into…

Playing For Real – Xband Gaming Modem (1994)

I was a PC gamer during the majority of the 16-bit-era, and missed out on some of the more monumental Super Nintendo and SEGA Genesis titles until later in life when they were considered retro classics.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, while I was BBS’g and Prodigy’g and The Sierra Networking the 16-bit console…

You Want A Banana? – Donkey Kong Country Exposed (1994)

If you were a Nintendo Power subscriber in 1994 you might have come home from school to find a VHS sitting in your mailbox.  Donkey Kong Country Exposed was a 15-ish minute promotional video about the making of the upcoming (revolutionary) Donkey Kong Country title for the Super Nintendo, and it’s everything that was wrong…

It Keeps My Kids At Home – SEGA Game Channel Infomercial (1990s)

The fact that streaming video game services are only just now entering the mainstream shows how innovative The SEGA Channel was in the early 1990s.  Harnessing the power of and the enthusiasm for cable TV, SEGA worked with local providers to roll out the SEGA Channel in 1994.  This subscription service ($13/mo) offered a rotating…

Let’s Get Warty – Battletoads (1990s)

Despite being an awesome yet punishingly difficult NES game (and later SNES, Genesis, and more), Battletoads always had the stink of a late-to-the-party reaction to the runaway success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Teenagers turn into green animals who fight to save the day from weird-looking enemies.  There were a few points of differentiation that would probably…

The Angry Red Planet – Total Recall (NES) (1991)

I’m  always only ever an inch away from starting a Total Recall blog.  For better or worse, it’s probably my favorite movie of all time.  There’s a surprising amount of stuff to unpack with Total Recall too – the would-be Cronenberg treatment, the Piers Anthony novelization that took severe liberties with the story, the spin-off…