Promoting PCs

Apple iMac poster

The colors of the translucent cases of the iMac (blueberry, grape, lime, strawberry, and tangerine) were often described as “flavors.” Steve Jobs commented, “We knew we had to name them after things you eat, because you just want to walk up and lick them."

Promoting PCs

As computers went mainstream, so did computer advertising. Early promotions targeted specialty shops and magazines. But greater acceptance and more varied customers opened a mass market. And that required mass media.

On television, John Cleese touting Compaq and William Shatner for Commodore joined IBM’s Chaplin-like character. Apple became known for high profile campaigns, beginning with its famed 1984 Super Bowl commercial.

Osborne 1 advertisement

While most ads for portables focused on the portability, this Osborne ad emphasized the amount of “free” software that came with it.

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Ashton-Tate mug

Ashton-Tate began as a mail-order software distributor, but became a major player in PC software with its dBase II database system. George Tate was a legitimate company founder, but Ashton was an invented name — and there never was a dBase I.

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Microsoft SuperTeam t-shirt

The history of computers is written on its T-shirts. “It’s not just a job, it’s a wardrobe” has long been a mantra among programmers. Microsoft gave this SuperTeam t-shirt to employees in Washington and North Carolina.

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Osborne frisbee

Frisbees, mouse pads, floppy disks, T-shirts, baseball caps, pens and coffee cups have been joined by USB memory sticks and WiFi network sniffers as popular trade show giveaways.

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Windows 95 t-shirt

Microsoft reportedly spent $300M on the launch of Windows 95, including millions for the right to use the Rolling Stones song, “Start Me Up.” This shirt was given to the support team helping with installations at computer stores.

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Created by man. The affordable computer.

Early microcomputer ads promoted the machines as inexpensive alternatives to costly minicomputers.

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