The “Computer” photo file in the newspaper archives ends as you might expect: a microprocessor next to a dime. Go back a few photos; the chip stands next to a quarter. If you rifle the photos in reverse you see computers change from small inscrutable things to giant wonderful machines the size of industrial refrigeration units. Wardrobes with reels of tapes; steel desks with typewriters built into the top. Blinking lights of indeterminate purpose. Back in the old days, the time of IBM and Uniblab, a picture of a computer required a wide-angle lens. And a woman in a thigh-high skirt.
Here are nine examples of computer promotional photography sent to newspapers in the 60s and 70s. Warm emailed nostalgic recollections of these machines are welcome; my address is first name at last name dot com. (Hint: my name is James Lileks.) These tales will be appended to the pictures, if you’d like.
Ready? Let’s begin.