Ctrl Alt Del: Vintage Computer Ads from the Past

Posted on Tuesday, March 15th, 2016 by

Computers have become so engrained in our day-to-day lives that it’s nearly impossible to think about going back to living without them. Everything from word processing to one-on-one communication just gets easier when you have the technology available.

So this month, as we put together the 24th edition of the Vintage Ads Series, it made sense to go looking back at 10 of our favourite computer ads from the past. Have a look and tell us which ad you like best.

In case you’ve missed any of the previous entries in the Vintage Ads Series, have a look back and see what we’ve featured so far.

Vintage Beer Ads                                    Vintage Car Ads
Vintage Cigarette Ads                          Vintage Fast Food Ads
Vintage Candy Ads                                Vintage Lingerie Ads
Vintage Horror Movie Posters           Vintage Shaving Ads
Vintage Christmas Ads                         Vintage Winter Ads
Vintage Valentine’s Day Ads              Vintage Vacation Ads
Vintage Medicine Ads                          Vintage Liquor Ads
Vintage Baseball Themed Ads          Vintage Soda Pop Ads
A Vintage Look at the CFL                  Vintage CNE Ads
Vintage Halloween Ads                       Vintage Moustache Ads
Vintage Merry Christmas Ads           Vintage Video Game Ads
Vintage Valentine’s Day Ads II


Even by today’s standard, $200 is a pretty great price for a computer. But let’s be real, this Sinclair can’t do 1/10 of what your smartphone can do in 2016. We’ve come a long way!

Radio Shack

Remember Radio Shack? Remember when it was THE place to go when you needed new electronics? Well that day may be gone, but this ad remains as evidence that the TRS-80 was available, and the Smartest Way to Write.


Anyone who has done a lot of word processing knows the importance of the right software to make your job easy and efficient. And it looks like MicroPro wanted everyone to believe that WordStar was that option.

What really shows the age on this ad is this… “Call (415) 457-8990 and ask for a copy of our WordStar demonstration booklet.” That’s right, call. Not email.


The upgrade from 200 to 320 dpi on the Logitech mouse was significant… and the design was, well, it was what it was. Thank goodness we’ve continued mouse evolution. And again, phone numbers for more information about computer equipment!


“Under $18,000”

Let that sink in for a minute. You can buy a car for that money. But at the time getting under the $18,000 price tag was a big deal for IBM and their business solutions computer equipment. Your $99 iPhone doesn’t look too bad now, does it?


“What the heck is Electronic Mail?”

I’m not sure what more I need to say about this one for us all to understand just how vintage it is. Thankfully there aren’t too many people left asking this question!


King Kong Bundy! As a lifelong wrestling fan (yes, I know it’s fake) I couldn’t leave this Headstart ad from the list. Using celebrities always leaves your ad an extra chance to feel really dated in the future, and this is a prime example.


Without a hard drive, you don’t have a computer. And without a fast hard drive, your computer can’t compete!

Note: This Fujitsu ad and others will pop up on Facebook as part of Blade’s 25th anniversary Throwback Thursday series. We really loved working on this campaign.


We know Canon as a brand name, so do you, and in this vintage ad we can see just what they had to offer the world in computers. I’m not exactly sure what’s on the screen there, but it must be important.

Apple II

We’re going way back with Apple in this one. Citing 1977 as the date Apple II became the #1 selling personal computer makes this ad nearly 40 years old. Get your cassette deck and start computing!

BONUS: Apple

Because Apple is Apple, we have a bonus entry in the list. And it’s here for 2 reasons.

1. The imagery.
2. “A is for Apple. It’s the first thing you should know about personal computers.”


Posted in: Branding
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Joshua Murray

About Joshua Murray

Fuelled by ideas, opportunity and coffee, Joshua attacks the social media landscape every day with a purpose. His experience in retail, customer service and public relations have combined to give him a 360 degree view of social media for brands and he is committed to helping all of his clients leverage their voice in the social sphere.