I had occasion to read the October 4th, 1968 issue of TIME magazine (Canada edition!) cover to cover last night.* There is something magical about reading periodicals from another era, where what we experience as history is rendered as quotidian life, and you get a glimpse of how your own moment, as it is rendered as “news,” will look in retrospect. But what caught my attention most was an ad at the end of the issue, right inside the back cover. There was an ad for a computer:
The ad is unremarkable compared to some other, more visually interesting UNIVAC ads, but I find it interesting as something in a newsmagazine aimed at an upper-middle class market. Most of the ads are for cars, liquor and cigarettes, with airlines, luxury hotels (Montreal or Vancouver!) some fine watches and audio gadgets thrown in. This wasn’t an ad for computer users, but a public relations campaign, designed to sell not just computers but computing for business. What’s interesting is that the rhetoric essentially hasn’t changed–in terms of its propositions, the ad might as well be for IBM business solutions. As to the sale of computing itself, that has, I think migrated to smartphone and tablet ads. What was once a business plan is now a lifestyle. Draw your own conclusions.
*The OED led me to it, as I was doing a little digging on the history of the term “soundscape” for an essay.