You’ve probably witnessed something like this scene: Grandma or grandpa is watching their grandchild play with an iPhone or Xbox, and they say, “When I was a kid, we only had a little black-and-white TV — and it only got three channels!” We don’t really believe our grandparents walked 10 miles to school every day, but they did live in a technological Stone Age. Yet primitive TVs, computers with 12K memories, and bulky transistor radios were all once hailed as cutting-edge products. We rounded up a few vintage commercials that truly make this stuff sound revolutionary.
10. Westinghouse Television (1950)
Sure, it has a 12-inch, black and white screen. But it’s got a really cool “electronic magnifier”! Why you would need that, we don’t know.
9. Motorola Television Set (1951)
If you think you might want this set, your dealer would “gladly give you a home demonstration.” Yes, the TV dealer would bring the TV set to your house, set it up, and you could see if you liked it. And remember, “only Motorola has Glare Guard, the curved screen that eliminates up to 98 percent of reflected glare!”
8. Remington Rand Computer (1956)
The announcer says this giant “electronic brain” features “memory tanks” that can hold 12,000 units of information. That’s 12K, about enough to hold a small word document today. Hey, these giant mainframes were useful enough to help NASA get men to the moon and back.
7. RCA Victor Transistor Radio (1959)
That $29.95 price would be the equivalent of more than $240 today. Pocket-sized transistor radios would come later.
6. Zenith Color Console TV (1965)
These 25-inch early color TV sets were a prized addition to family rooms everywhere in the mid-1960s. And if you wanted to keep up with the Joneses, you definitely needed to get the option with “Zenith’s Space Command Remote Control Tuning.” Baby boomers might recognize the voice of the narrator, Dick Tufeld, who served as the voice of the Robot on the 1960s TV series Lost in Space.
5. Kenner Close and Play Record Player (1967)
What child of the 1960s or ’70s didn’t have their own 45-rpm record player?
4. Radio Shack 8-Track Tape Player (1970s)
Has there ever been a more user-unfriendly entertainment technology than the 8-track player?
3. Coleco Telstar Pong System (1976)
Yes, kids, this really was the primitive state of video games in 1976. If you had one of these, you were the most popular kid on the block.
2. Wards Microwave Oven (1970s)
The development of the microwave oven proved critical in American history, because it paved the way for the invention of microwave popcorn.
1. America Online (1995)
Plenty of 30-somethings remember that the bad old days of slooooooow dial-up Internet were not that long ago. Chat rooms, the annoying buzz of the dial-up modem, the almost daily delivery of “Free AOL trial” CDs in the mail — we do not miss that era.