Meltdown – Nightline Chernobyl Accident Report (1980s)

On April 26, 1986, a late night safety test at the Chernobyl nuclear plant went horribly wrong and led to the most disastrous nuclear power plant accident in history.  The world found out two days later, when Russian state news broadcasted a four-sentence report on the event.This episode of Nightline, ABC’s late night news program,…

All Those Ghosts Turn Blue – Pac Man Ads (1980s)

Readers of this blog are already aware of my distinct fondness for video game box art, particularly from the early 1980s. The disparity between the elaborate imagery on game boxes and in marketing materials and what players saw on the screen with the actual gameplay isn’t too surprising given the limited technology of the time,…

Christmas in 1980 – They’re Afraid Of Your Snake, Yoda

Christmas, 1980. Carter’s on his way out, Reagan’s on his way in, Rubik’s Cubes are the must-have holiday toy, The Empire Strikes Back rules the theaters and Dallas rules the living room.  Here’s a look at the holiday ad surge you’d have seen if you were a television viewer or magazine reader in Christmas of 1980.  It’s…

For Digestion’s Sake – Thanksgiving Ads (1940s-1990s)

Holiday traditions in the United States grow and change over the years, but there’s one constant: everyone wants a piece of your holiday spending money.  These Thanksgiving ads ranging from 1942 to 1991 showcase the different angles these companies took to try and get at your wallet. In doing so they speak to the design…

The Enchanted World – Time Life Books (1985)

Back in the ’80s you could have probably convinced me that Time-Life was a branch of the Department of Education; their authoritative ads for book series on everything from UFOs to the Civil War to The Old West to pasta recipes came across to a young me as more of a public service than a…

Commodore Vic 20 Print Ads

Selling a computer in 1982 had to be pretty tough. For one thing, they were super expensive. For another thing, you had (at least) two different types of customers. On one side, there’s a really informed audience that wanted to know what specs your company brought to the table that made you better than the…

Five Things – 1.2.17 – Sure, Mac, Sure

Connections: AT&T’s Vision Of The Future AT&T’s got a record of anticipating future trends and technologies that extends almost as far back as they do. They kind of have to; that’s their business.  This 1993 video, Connections, takes the emerging technologies of the internet and mobile phones and imagines a future that combines the two. And,…

Five Things – 12.26.16 – Top Five of 2016

Those polls at the bottom of each Five Things post? This is why they’re there. Here are the top Five things of 2016, selected by a very unscientific combination of votes, comments, email feedback and good old personal bias. Looks like old TV shows were mostly what resonated with you guys this year. Me, too!…

Five Things – 11.23.15 – An Attractive Customer Is Courteously Assisted

1. Boosting is a Business – Here’s a 1950 informational film detailing various techniques used by “professional” shoplifters.  The tactics used range from pedestrian “grab-and-put-it-in-your-pocket” theft to coordinated operations involving multiple people  Beyond the actual shoplifting there’s a lot to love about this film: the locations, the fashions, and the little slice-of-life glimpes you get…

Five Things – 09.14.15 – The Faint Pressure Of Starlight

1. Mars and Beyond – This episode of Disneyland, the ABC show that would eventually become The Wonderful World of Disney, Walt Disney Presents, and about a dozen other variations on that title, presents the history and future of speculation on the rest of the Solar System and man’s eventual place in it. This episode…