Desk-top calculators (Nov, 1970)

Only $349, what a bargain! Of course that’s roughly $1900 in 2007 dollars so you could buy a pretty nice computer for that price. Who exactly spent that much money on a four function calculator?

Desk-top calculators
Here’s a handy item to keep at your fingertips. Despite the simplicity of the keyboard, this 12-digit calculator can perform all the basic functions and, in addition, multiply with a constant and carry forward a grand total. It’s $349 from Casio Enterprises, Long Island City, N.Y. 11101.

Playboy Ascii Art (Oct, 1967)

Also check out:

ASCII Art in 1939
Typewritten Flag (ASCII Art)
ASCII Art – 1948


PLAYBOY has programmed the names and addresses of quality retailers across the country, stores which handle the fine products advertised in this issue. To find those stores in your area that handle products in which you’re interested, simply use the attached reply card. Within 5 days you’ll receive a computer-printed letter with the answers. Why search around when you can relax?


The Handy Uses of a Home Computer ()

This family gives new meaning to the term “early adopter”. Though at $7.50 an hour ($40 in 2007 dollars) it would almost be cheaper to send the kid to a casino to play blackjack.

The Handy Uses of a Home Computer

* Planning a dinner menu
* Balancing bank accounts
* Doing school homework
* Figuring out income tax
* Printing invitations
* Keeping the budget

Computers for the home have been envisioned by science fiction writers and engineers ever since a huge, unwieldy prototype was developed 25 years ago. The whole futuristic age they prophesied, with an omnipotent electronic monster named Horace in every living room, is still a long way from realization, but compact consumer computers have quietly entered the household. While the market hardly rivals TV sets or refrigerators, the computer-as-home-appliance is now more than just a toy for the wealthy or a mysterious instrument for technical specialists.

5 NEW IBM PRODUCTS (Nov, 1959)


DELIVER MORE DATA PROCESSING PER DOLLAR WITH IBM BALANCED DATA PROCESSING Out of IBM’s continuing program of research and development, proved by months of rigid testing, come these great new products to serve business, industry and science. And with them, IBM adds new emphasis to the concept of Balanced Data Processing—a standard for all data processing based on measuring the value of data processing in terms of net results, rather than speed of individual units.

Origins of Computer Dating (Feb, 1966)

I wonder if Gene Shalit already had that crazy mustache when he wrote this in 1966. I was looking for a picture of him to link to and I found this instead. (warning: may not be safe for work. Contains 8-bit music and pictures of Gene Shalit)

Also check out: HOW TO SELECT A MATE (Jan, 1965), and The Truth About Petting (Jan, 1937)

boy… girl… computer

New dating craze sweeps the campus


Out of computers, faster than the eye can blink, fly letters stacked with names of college guys and girls—taped, scanned, checked and matched. Into the mails speed the compatible pairs, into P.O. boxes at schools across the land. Eager boys grab their phones… anxious coeds wait in dorms … a thousand burrrrrrrings jar the air . . . snow-job conversations start, and yeses are exchanged: A nationwild dating spree is on. Thousands of boys and girls who’ve never met plan weekends together, for now that punch-card dating’s here, can flings be far behind? And oh, it’s so right, baby. The Great God Computer has sent the word. Fate. Destiny. Go-go-go.

Computer Cuts Farm Figuring (Sep, 1949)

It’s funny to look back at how bulky computers used to be. I mean, there is no way this thing would fit in a manila envelope.

Computer Cuts Farm Figuring
Farmers who dislike paper work now can solve many types of mathematical farm problems with a computer that shows the desired information at a glance. The computer consists of four metal disks containing arrows, figures and windows. By setting up known information on the disks, the farmer can quickly determine the desired figure. For example, the computer will calculate the price of a given weight of any kind of grain, the value of land and livestock, the number of gallons of milk in a given number of pounds and the value of several cases of eggs when the price per dozen is known.


These machines appear in just about every computer history time line I’ve ever seen. In 1911 the Hollerith Tabulating Machine company merged with the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company and the patents for these tabulators became the basis for their primary product line of punched card systems. You might know C-T-R better by it’s current name.

As an aside, one thing I’ve noticed as I’ve started scanning earlier and earlier magazines is that sometime in the late 1920’s somebody decided that paragraphs that ran the length of an entire page were not entirely helpful and writers started making them much shorter. Whoever is responsible for this change has my profound thanks.

If you’d like to see how the technology advanced, here are articles about the 1940 , 1950 and 1960 censuses.



Now that the Census Bureau has been made a permanent branch of the government, it attains the dignity and importance which its merits deserve. A popular impression prevailing among a large number of people is that the main part of the work of the Census is the taking of it, that is to say, the gathering of the data. That nothing could be more erroneous is evidenced by the fact that by legislative enactment a single month only was allowed for the taking of the Twelfth Census, while two years were given within which to tabulate the data. The data collected can have no meaning or value to the legislator and the student of sociology and political economy until classified into categories which form a basis for comparisons and conclusions.


I can’t tell you how excited I was when I found this magazine on eBay. I thought that the author was this Arthur Miller. An article about the personal privacy threats inherent in massive government databases, written by the author of the Crucible sounded amazing. It turns out that the author was actually this Arthur Miller, and I don’t think anyone could have done a better job.

This is the most amazingly prescient article I’ve ever read. When people write about the future they are usually wrong. When people write about the future of computers, they are usually even more wrong. This article got everything right. If you changed the tense and a few bits of jargon, then handed to me and told me it was written by the EFF, I’d believe it.

Just to give you an idea of how right he was on even the basic computer stuff, here’s the second paragraph of the article. Keep in mind that this is what desktop computers looked like in 1967.

“The modern computer is more than a sophisticated indexing or adding machine, or a miniaturized library; it is the keystone for a new communications medium whose capacities and implications we are only beginning to realize. In the foreseeable future, computer systems will be tied together by television, satellites, and lasers, and we will move large quantities of information over vast distances in imperceptible units of time.”

Forty-one years ago Arthur R. Miller laid out all of the privacy threats that we face now. The power that credit reporting databases have over us. The illegal government use of our financial and phone records. The attempt to build a master database tying all of these together. The fact that the government might consider you a threat if you so much as sent a Christmas card to someone the government has on a watch list. It’s all here. He basically predicted and laid out all of the arguments against the Total Information Awareness program and the current NSA programs that have been so much in the news.

It’s nice to know there were people who were so ahead of the curve in trying to protect our rights, and it’s a tragedy that more people didn’t listen. I think it speaks strongly to the need to pay attention to this stuff now, because this problem will only get worse.



The computer age is not to be stayed, as anyone knows who has been billed for another citizen’s charge account or has wondered what has happened to his paid-up magazine subscription. The computer science is already so advanced that experts envisage a huge National Data Center to speed and simplify the collection of pertinent information about Americans. Properly run, it could be a boon. But any person who has seen an FBI file or been party to a U.S. government “security check” has reason to know how the abuse or misuse of dossiers of unevaluated information can threaten an individual’s rights. A professor of law at the University of Michigan here discusses the precautions necessary to protect citizens from “governmental snooping and bureaucratic spinelessness or perfidy.”

New 1978 Electronic Games (Jan, 1978)

New 1978 Electronic Games

A host of video and nonvideo electronic games, many using microprocessors, promises the public more stimulating fun for leisure time.


A COUPLE of years ago, an electronic video game consisted of a simple “black box” that, when connected to a TV receiver, produced little more than some version of video table tennis. In some cases today, that black box is virtually a personal computer. Now there are games whose color images try your gambling instincts at blackjack, your “destroy” capability against an enemy tank, your patience and fortitude through a maze while a “cat” attempts to devour you, your artistic talent with computer-drawn pictures, or your knowledge of math and history. And that is just the beginning in video games!

How Automation Will Affect Your Job (Oct, 1955)

If you’re interested in Automation we have a great Scientific American series from 1952.

How Automation Will Affect Your Job

New skills, a shorter work week and more leisure time will be yours in 1975—thanks to machines with “brains”!

By Robert Bendiner

THE YEAR is 1975. For a man of 50 leaving a factory gate at five in the afternoon, you look remarkably fresh. Your light, comfortable-looking summer suit is pressed and spotless, your face and hands are free of grime, and your features show no sign of the strain that men once associated with the heat and noise of a big factory. There is an extra spring in your step as you walk toward the heliport, perhaps because this is Thursday. Your four-day work week is over, and ahead of you are three full days to call your own.

Are you a pampered relative of the owner, or perhaps the owner himself? Not at all. You are an ordinary factory hand—in charge of “preventive tool maintenance” for your section. You have been with the Peerless Auto Parts Company for 25 years, one of the lucky ones who were trained by management for the great changeover to automation that occurred in the mid-’60s.