A Retro PC Celebration for the Whole Family

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Computers: The Heart of the 1980s Home

Familiar holiday tales tell of a time in the late 19th century when loving families would gather around the hearth to give thanks for their many blessings, sing songs, read Dickens, and roast chestnuts. But by the early 1980s — if you believed computer ads of the day — the home computer had become the center of the traditional nuclear family. Chestnuts were replaced by joysticks and computer manuals.

With the holidays just around the corner, let’s carefully peel back the fabric of time and examine ten vintage advertisements from a more civilized age when dazed, zombified android families found themselves irresistibly drawn to home PCs.

As you look through these ads, keep this in mind: When was the last time more than two people sat around your computer?

TRS-80 Color Computer 2 (1984)

Father: “I’m so glad we bought you this new computer, Gloria. With it, your knowledge and critical thinking skills will accelerate to levels far beyond those of your peers.”

Daughter: (zombie gargle)

Weekly Reader Family Software (1983)

From the expression of the boy in yellow on the left, you’d think that Weekly Reader Family Software had created the most gruesome crash simulator yet committed to any digital media.

And that’s okay with dad.

CBS Software (1983)

“See, dad? If I press this key, I can calculate the GDP of the entire Pacific Rim.”

“Sorry, son. I was thinking about cheeseburgers.”

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