The other day after work I switched on the TV and found a repeat of a film I loved when I was younger: Back to the Future II. I am sure most of you will have seen it, but if you memory is a bit hazy this film is the one that involves Biff stealing the Delorean, taking the “Sports Almanac” back to 1955, making millions from it and turning the town evil before Doc Brown and Marty spend the best part of an hour and a half going into the past and the future to sort it all out.


That synopsis really doesn’t do the film justice! Anyway, the film was made in 1989 and the “future” is set in 2015. In this future there were flying cars, food hydrating machines, transactions made via fingerprints and of course, the hoverboard. Unfortunately, with 2015 just 4 years away, these innovations don’t look like they are going to become a reality anytime soon.

The good news is that technology has come a very long way since the 1980’s. The electronic items, computing devices and communication options available to us today are light years ahead of what was available in the 80’s. Having watched the film I looked on YouTube to see some of the technology available in the 80’s and the adverts that promoted them. There are some gems out there and below are my 5 favourites:

      1. Microsoft Windows 1.0

Here is the current CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer back in the 80’s showing off the features of Windows 1.0. A digital clock AND Reversi for $99?! The residents of Nebraska must have felt very hard done by!


      2. Centel Mobile Phones

I am not totally sure of the message this mobile phone advert is trying to convey. I think it is something along the lines of “use our mobile you too can drive to strange locations in a 4x4 and have a model girlfriend”. I only hope people using that phone didn’t lose their son as a result – where does the boy go who is at the start of the ad?!

      3. Radio Shack colour computer

Radio Shack highlight in this advert how their system was so easy to navigate that even kids could use it! Elliot seems to be pushing all sorts of technological boundaries as 6 seconds into the advert he appears to be designing The Matrix!

      4. Black and Decker Tools

I think it might have been a good idea to state clearly that the stripper in the box under the tree was a Black and Decker cordless so as not to get her husband’s hopes up in the Christmas of 1986….

      5. Atari Pole Position

Pole Position was an Atari classic but if ever the advertisement does not give a true reflection of the actual product experience then this is it!

I wonder what people in 25 years’ time will think of adverts out today. I am sure the IPhone, tablet PC’s and 3D TV will look daft but for now we should be thankful of the advances made since the 80’s!

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Simon Malone
Simon@VirtualStudio.TV