You know, in my day, we used a physical calculator to add, not a calculator app on a computer. Okay, so maybe the advances in basic math tabulation have slowed down a bit, but that wasn't the case in the age of the slide rule calculator. Today from the good folks at RetroCalculators.com (who knew!?) we're taking a look at an interesting slide rule / and addiator. (Addiator may be my new favorite word, even if spell check doesn't recognize it as word) I've always been fascinated by the world of mechanical computation, even if I'm often left stupefied by just how it works. This handy little unit stays just on this side of comprehensible. And I'd highly suggest checking out the other cool retro calculators on their site.
This week's retro tech find requires little introduction: Let's take a look at the progress of NASA, in 1965:
Oh, to have been a fly on the wall of the ad agency behind this 80's gem... Let's say you've just been tasked with creating a commercial for the home version of the era's most popular arcade racing game, Pole Position. What would that commercial look like?
If you said it would open with an annoying family, followed by an even more annoying announcer, followed by way too much road racing intercut with way too little actual game play, and then wrap it all up with some sort of bizarre post-apocalyptic scene, and more yelling from the announcer (along with a reference to "skid marks"), then you would've created something frightfully similar to this:
What was "the wonder computer of the 80's"? Well, according to none other than William Shatner, it's the Commodore VIC-20. Long before he became spokesman for Priceline, Shatner happily endorsed the VIC-20 in this commercial dripping with 80's retro goodness:
We don't generally think of the laundry room when we think about breakthrough technology, and frankly, that's why I chose this 55 year-old ad for a washing machine for today's retro tech. My mind just has trouble believing that all these years later, this is essentially the same way we wash and dry clothes today. There's got to be someone out there with a better idea. Anyone? Anyone? Maybe we need to bring back the "Wonder-Dial" mentioned in the ad.
Oh, and for those who complain about product placement in TV shows today (and I consider myself one of those people) it brings some perspective to see how thoroughly the ad is integrated into the show. Why it makes those Coca-Cola cups on American Idol look downright subtle by comparison: