Invention is about the future. Looking back at the technology and images that defined us can provide an idea of where we are headed.
A case in point is the Apple II personal computer. The ad below appeared in the venerable Scientific American magazine in May 1980. It seems almost laughable in its blatant appeal to the ego, although it was certainly on track about the PC’s ability to empower individuals and encourage creativity.
Ben Franklin designing the kite that helped to discover electricity (below) is a provocative image. Franklin was the original “scientific” American – statesman, inventor, writer. The Apple II, introduced in 1977, came with 4K of memory, expandable to 48K. Its CPU speed was rated at 1 MHz. It was the kind of tool that could make genius even smarter.
Below is the original ad for the Apple II (the full text is below the ad for easy reading).
What kind of man owns his own computer?
Rather revolutionary, the whole idea of owning your own computer? Not if you’re a diplomat, printer, scientist, inventor… or a kite designer, too. Today there’s Apple Computer. It’s designed to be a personal computer. To uncomplicate your life. And make you more effective.
It’s a wise man who owns an Apple.
If your time means money, Apple can help you make more of it. In an age of specialists, the most successful specialists stay away from uncreative drudgery. That’s where Apple comes in.
Apple is a real computer, right to the core. So just like big computers, it manages data, crunches numbers, keeps records, processes your information and prints reports. You concentrate on what you do best. And let Apple do the rest. Apple makes that easy with three programming languagesâ€” including Pascalâ€”that let you be your own software expert.
Apple, the computer worth not waiting for.
Time waiting for access to your company’s big mainframe is time wasted. What you need in your department on your desk is a computer that answers only to you…
Apple Computer. It’s less expensive than timesharing. More dependable than distributed processing. Far more flexible than centralized EDP. And, at less than $2500 (as shown), downright affordable.
Visit your local computer store.
You can join the personal computer revolution by visiting the Apple dealer in your neighborhood. We’ll give you his name when you call our toll-free number (800) 538-9696. In California, (800) 662-9238. Apple Computer, 10260 Bandley Drive, Cupertino, CA 95014.
A Manly Man
Note the ad’s manly images. (I guess 1980s women didn’t require a computer.) Ben Franklin was never a pinup for machismo, although he was said to be quite the lady’s man… $2,500 in 1980 is equivalent to about $8,800 today – a price almost no individual would be willing to pay for a personal computer today. Computers have gotten smarter and smaller; people, not so much.
- U.S. President Jimmy Carter proclaims a grain embargo against the USSR with the support of the European Commission
- The Rubik’s Cube makes its international debut at The British Toy and Hobby Fair, Earl’s Court, London
- The 1980 Winter Olympics took place in Lake Placid, New York
- The United States boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
- Pac-Man, the best-selling arcade game of all time, is released in Japan
Another print ad introduced the Apple II in September 1977. It included a $598 board-only version for “do-it-yourself hobbyists.”
And while we are on the subject, Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, available for free, here, is an unusually timely and readable work, especially for anyone interested in invention and the creative process.
Frank Woodworth Pine wrote that it was “the most remarkable of all the remarkable histories of our self-made men.” with Franklin as the greatest exemplar of the “self-made man”.
Image source: http://modernmechanix.com; technobezz.com