The sound of space

This week we go back to the advertising of the early 1980s. The 1980s were a special time in advertising because it was the end of one era and the beginning of another. On the one had you had more and more magazines being printed in color, because of improvements in technology and cost control. On the other hand had this increasing awareness of what people thought computers “should” look like, which was way way beyond what they could actually do.

The answer was to hire painters for these beautiful photorealistic versions of computer parts, screens, and interfaces. If you look at the box art from 1980s video cartridges, you’ll see what I mean. The actual screens may have been nothing but colored blocks, but the artwork on the box was superb.

Another great example is the covers of tech journals of the time, such as those from Byte magazine. Luckily a lot of them are stored at This particular image happens to be my favorite:

But I digress.

Boomboxes as art

I wanted to point you to a page over at the We Are The Mutants blog showing the art of Ryo Oshita. Mr. Oshita was a fairly anonymous commercial artist tooling around in the early 1980s, and yet some of his art survives to this day. Check out this example:

I mean, who wouldn’t want a turntable based on that ad. It’s much more glamorous that the actual player, I bet. I found one very similar and when I look at it, all I think is “yard sale.”

That’s the point of advertising. Today, though, ads are all created on computers. Believe me, I love computers as creative tools. They make so many things possible. Unfortunately they also let people be lazy, which is why so much advertising today isn’t really memorable. At least nothing like this shining example from 1982. Someone really labored over this and that’s why it still looks like great art today. There are other examples at the link above too… and they’re worth a moment for you to look at them.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.