Category Archives: technology

Now your English Mistakes are History – Smith Corona Word processor, 1988

As I sit here typing away on my computer that automatically corrects my spelling and transmits whatever I write to the four people who pay attention to this blog, I’m reminded that there was a day not so long ago when one was responsible for ones own mistakes. Thanks be that those days are gone.

From Classic Ads – Misc
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Smart Set, Stories from Life – December 1927

Yesterday we looked at The Literary Digest from 1911 in all its affluent glory. Today we look at Smart Set Magazine from the 20s. The two audiences couldn’t possibly more different. Smart Set is just the sort of magazine that one of our 20s Flappers would sit down to read between flaps. Most of the content is vacuous romance drivel and the ads seem to focus fairly firm on makeup.

Usually I don’t bother with the covers since they’re not really advertising but this one struck me very firmly about the eyeballs. She makes quite a fitting icon for the times.

From Classic Ads – Misc

The majority of ads were for makeup and various accessories related to it. On the back of the front cover we find Norida powder cases. Who would have thought such a thing existed and deserved such a prominent spot in the zine?

From Classic Ads – Misc

There are a few familiar names. Irene Rich (yes, THAT Irene Rich) uses Maybelline. Never heard of that Maybelline stuff but Irene Rich… WOW!

From Classic Ads – Misc

Tangee Beauty Aids offered a wide range of women’s make-up goop stuff. You can tell how attuned I am to this particular line of marketing.

From Classic Ads – Misc

And Kissproof seems fairly suggestive of potential not-really-related-to-makeup activities though the woman in the picture looks like she might just be wielding a knife.

From Classic Ads – Misc

When our flapper friends weren’t making themselves up for a night out, they were having a smoke behind the barn. They’re better because they’re toasted! We haven’t yet gotten to the Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco era.

From Classic Ads – Misc

I do notice too that retailers are practically jumping out of their skins to hand out credit to customers. Send only $1! Take a year to pay whether you want fine jewelry…

From Classic Ads – Misc

…or a Buxkin Velour Mandell Fur coat!

From Classic Ads – Clothing

Lastly, we know that any Flapper worth her salt can dance up a small storm. Since you can’t dance without music, we bring you the Mello-Phonic Console Phonograph. You’ll have to draw lots though to see who gets stuck with the job of winding it up.

From Classic Ads – Music Equipment

If you prefer your grinding without the winding, check out the All-Electric Radio. This beasty would cost you the equivalent of $700 back in the day.

From Classic Ads – Music Equipment

Oh, but wait. I found this last little advert just hanging tenaciously on by a thread. Even flappers, it seems, suffered at times from irregularity. Luckily though there’s Feen-a-Mint.

From Classic Ads – Food And Drink

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1965 RCA Color Television – Jack Benny and Johnny Carson

Today’s advert isn’t so much about the product as it is the people selling it. As an aficionado of all things archaic, for me Benny was the icon of an a full half-century of entertainment. While never the most politically correct nor a friend to those who appreciated the violin, Benny was telling the same jokes you laugh at today back in the 1920s. To me Carson was always a much dimmer light in the world of entertainment but he’s OK here too.

1965 RCA Color Televisions - Jack Benny, Johnny Carson

1965 RCA Color Televisions - Jack Benny, Johnny Carson

Switching gears a bit, I’d like some feedback and opinions here. There seems to be a fair amount of interest in this blog and for that I thank you. You’re all appreciated and welcomed. I would like to hear your thoughts on the general selection for ads. Anything you want more of or less of? More content and analysis or less blather? Prefer a certain genre of products? I’ve been withholding dozens of automotive ads on the principal that it’s fairly redundant and dull. Is it? Anyway, all thoughts appreciated. Help me steer this thing!

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Studyboppers Delight – 1970s Smith-Corona Typewriters

It’s hard to believe that in some of our lifetimes a typewriter was considered a great college study aid. It’s to tiny it can fit easily on the lap of that girl in that little tiny skirt!

1970s Smith-Corona Typewriters

1970s Smith-Corona Typewriters

Truth be told though, I recall with great clarify getting a typewriter as a child. I was determined to retype the entire encyclopedia. To this day I know far too much about Aardvarks, Aardwolves and Acacia. That was 1970-something and when electrics came around it quite an improvement even for us young “studyboppers” as the ad so eloquently calls them.

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Her First Telephone Call – 1937 Bell Telephone System

So I grew up in the 70s and to me, for whatever reason, the telephone was something that adults used. Long distance had an exorbitant cost and phones had cords. It was just… very, very different.

In this advert from 1937 it’s evident that the phone is still an item used for business and business only. Betty Sue is making her first call today and “the telephone may some day become commonplace.” My how times have changed. Kids not only consider the phone commonplace but many have their own numbers. Also, check out the size of that receiver. You could bludgeon a polar bear with that thing.

First Phone Call

First Phone Call

What’s your history with the phone? Was your first phone call a significant day in your life?

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Burroughs Adding Machines – 1911

It’s hard to believe just how far we’ve come in 100 years. In this ad from 1911, we see the description of a state-of-the-art device that did nothing but simple addition and subtraction. These all-mechanical beasts were the Excel spreadsheets of their day. “No other writing machine shows at a glance the item you are writing, the figures you have written and the total as it accumulates” the text brags. Note too the lever which must be pulled after each entry.

Burroughs Adding Machines - 1911

Burroughs Adding Machines - 1911 (Click the picture to view or download a higher resolution version)

What is more interesting is the image given by the man operating it. This burly type is more suited for the forest than the office. Perhaps he’s the minimum physical specimen required to move this “compact, handy, and easily carried about” device from room to room.

PS: To those of you who may be wondering, I have the original ads for this and all of my other postings available for sale or trade. They make great framed art gifts. Drop me a line if you’re interested.

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The Boob Tube – RCA Televisions, 1965

As I sit here with my laptop computer and my iPhone next to me and my Kindle in the other room that can all show me video with crystal clarity, it’s hard to think that there was a time, not all that long ago, when all that was fairly complicated. Do you think that if you’d told people in 1965 that some day their TV would stream magically through the air that they would have believed you?

The Compact Option

The Compact Option

For those wanting really high fidelity, you have the option of the console model. The ad is worth a closer look. Click to view the circuit board size comparison with various satellites. They’re very clearly bragging that their television set has a circuit board that’s similar in size (and design) with those in use by NASA in 1965!

The TV wall

The TV wall

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