Jan 262017

Some time back I kinda inherited a bunch of old magazines (you may be able to guess which one…). The idea was to sell ’em, but a bit of research showed that they have almost no resale value. Turns out, magazines that were printed in the millions and *not* thrown away didn’t really become collectors items. Didn’t help that the internet came along and, gee whiz, if you’re looking for a certain kind of, ahem, portraiture, there are now easier ways to get ’em.

So, they’ve sat here taking up space. But being the student of history that I am, I looked through ’em all. And there were a number of interesting things. Perhaps most entertaining are the ads. Sure, most are utterly forgettable. But some… some kinda jump out at ya.

So, because why not, I’m starting a new category of posts: Antidote To Nostalgia. Nostalgia is an interesting thing; on the one hand it can be fun to think back on good times (or times that are remembered as good), on the other hand, it is a dandy way to get history wrong and screw up your future by focusing on the past at the expense of the future. So what will be posted are things that are cringeworthy. If you are nostalgic for the late 1960’s-1970’s (the era of the magazines), there will be a whole lot of men’s fashion ads that should make you reconsider your priorities.

First up, though, is  an announcement for a piece of consumer electronics. There were always ads for electronics, but it seems they really began to ramp up towards the sort of electronics we know today starting in 1978 and really accelerating in 1979. This device from 1979, though, is a device that would be wholly useless, and largely incomprehensible, today: a calculator specifically to tell you how much a long distance phone call will cost. Counting for inflation, this thing would run you the equivalent of about $165, for a device that today would serve no purpose whatsoever.


Yeah. In the late 1970’s, it made sense to some people to blow a day or mores wages on something that would tell you how much a phone call would cost. Go ahead and be nostalgic for *that.*

 Posted by at 12:24 am
  • kwa357

    Fair Radio Sales has unused examples for $8.00.

  • Bruce

    Talk about it. My favorite magazines which I had subscriptions to were Popular Mecanics and Popular Science. I loved the what’s new stuff espcially when then brought up the new designs
    and ideas for aerospace stuff then. Omni magazines I loved some of the stuff they had too
    including stuff about Nikola Tesla, Wernher von Braun and such. Wish I knew about the 3
    stage space ferry that he proposed with the shuttle on top when I was in high school in the
    Aeronautics club that we had then. We flew model rockets and U-contrlol planes mostly and Omni magazine had a 3 view of the space ferry ( I think it was the July 1987 issue)….would have made a great model which the shuttle would have been a boost glider. I always thought boost gliders
    were more fun and challenging than the parachute models. Popular Mechanics and Popular Science also and I think still do have the classified ads in the back section of them. Some of
    those were pretty interesting too. I even bought a couple of things from them.

  • Bruce

    As for the Telecoster, yeah with everyone using cellphones these days it probably would be a waste unless you deal with carriers like AT&T and such and use it to call international during the

    day for business or personal calls. Then it would probably make sense then.

  • Bruce

    As for the Shuttle, yes I could still do it.

  • Bruce

    Yeah the internet as everyone knows sort of took over the old days of going to the bookstores
    and libraries and driving yourself half nuts trying to find what you were looking for but still it was
    fun looking at the magazines at the stands.Yes the internet is “the world at your fingertips” and
    yes I have discovered a lot of things which I didn’t know existed as far as different subjects and it is a lot easier to get it off the internet than again having to try and find the info in books and such. Only thing that I have been hearing too for a while is how the internet has somehow affected the hobby shop industry…I suppose it is lot easier to get the stuff online but i still
    like the old days myself where you could go into places like that and look at all the stuff.
    The shop could special order the stuff if you needed it. Oh well, so much for progress.

  • becida

    I remember back in late ’71 or ’72 when my friend showed up with this device in his hand, He could at the push of a button find the square root of a number! He spent one hundred dollars for this (I was buying regular gas at the Gulf station off hwy 101 at the Pengrove exit for 24.9 cents a gallon at that time) but he could find a square root in no time! Not to mention multiply & divide.
    Things have changed.

  • Brian

    I’m looking for a good Dec 1973 as well as some early 60’s ones to frame and hang. Cover condition is the only criteria. I’d MUCH rather give some funds to your cause than some random ebay seller. Let me know….

    • Scottlowther

      After going through them and making some scans, they’ve all been donated to the local landfill.

    • se jones

      Ooo Christine Maddox.
      Cover condition…’course, pages are often stuck together.

  • Siergen

    Many years ago (pre-AT&T breakup) my parents came up with a code to use when I was driving cross-country to visit them, and needed to pass them information without paying long distance rates. I’d make a collect call to them from a payphone, and the name I gave the operator was the message.

    If I used the name “George”, they knew I was on the way and expected there by nightfall – they would then decline to accept the call. “Robert” meant I was going to stop at a hotel overnight, etc. If I used my own name, that meant I had a situation not on the list (such as a breakdown) – they’d then accept the charge and we’d talk.

    • publiusr

      verbal phone phreaking.

      My aunt would call my Mom and hang up–then my Mom would call her. The phone company got wise somehow and charged my Aunt even for the hang-ups.

      My parents were part of a church phone-line. We could call just down the rad–and it would be long distance. So the prayer chain went from Clay–to birmighan–where the pastor lived–and he could call Trussville and somehow it not be long distance.

  • Bob

    I still use mine.

  • Thalesourus

    Blue boxes were more fun.