1980s

“What the Heck is Electronic Mail?”

by Joey deVilla on April 22, 2009

Here’s an old magazine ad by Honeywell for what was a newfangled thing for most people in the 1980s — electronic mail:

homeywell_electronic_mail_adMissing from the desk: a computer. Present on the desk: an ashtray.
Click the ad to see it at full size.

Here’s the text of the ad:

Electronic mail is a term that’s been bandied about data processing circles for years.

Simply put, it means high-speed information transportation.

One of the most advanced methods is terminals talking to one another.

Your mailbox is the terminal on the desk. Punch a key and today’s correspondence and messages are displayed instantly.

Need to notify people immediately of a fast-breaking development? Have your message delivered to their terminal mailboxes electronically, across the hall or around the world.

Electronic Mail is document distribution that’s more timely, accurate and flexible than traditional methods.

There’s no mountain of paperwork.

Administrative personnel are more effective.

Managers have access to more up-to-date information. Decision-making is easier.

Tomorrow’s automated office will clearly include Electronic Mail. But like the rest of the Office of the Future, it’s available at Honeywell today.

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“Owns Home Computer”: A News Report from 1981

by Joey deVilla on January 29, 2009

TechCrunch points to a news report from San Francisco-based TV station KRON that dates all the way back to 1981, when home computers were 8-bit wonders like the era of the Apple ///, TRS-80 and Atari 400 and 800. The piece on how some people are reading their newspapers by logging into Compuserve, and how someday, we’ll all be reading our newspapers and magazines on our computers:

Back then, a computer in the home was very unusual, hence their underscoring of this interviewee’s name with “owns home computer”. It seems quaint now, but back then, that was pretty 1337:

Still from news report: "Richard Halloran: Owns home computer"

The TechCrunch article points out a couple of lines in the piece that stand out given our 2009 perspective. The first is from the San Francisco Examiner’s David Cole:

This is an experiment. We’re trying to figure out what it’s going to mean to us, as editors and reporters and what it means to the home user. And we’re not in it to make money, we’re probably not going to lose a lot but we aren’t going to make much either.

The other memorable line is from the reporter:

This is only the first step in newspapers by computers. Engineers now predict the day will come when we get all our newspapers and magazines by home computer, but that’s a few years off.

This is Joey deVilla, signing off from one of those Dynabook-style computers.

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