RCA - Computers! We have some!

Hey, you know how everything is better when it's designed on a computer? Well, that was once called "Computer Aided Design", or "CAD". Now, it's just called "designing something". See, now that everything except going to the bathroom is digital*, it doesn't really add anything to throw "computer" in front of it. This ad comes from 1970, which was a time before they had a name for designing something with a computer.

So, since they didn't have the acronym "CAD" to throw around and impress people, they wrote four paragraphs of copy to explain that computers are useful, because how would people know otherwise? They stop short of saying that there was any kind of computers actually inside their products, of course, because there weren't. Computers back then were still giant things that took up your whole darn computer lab. So where did they have their Nerf wars? That's what I want to know.

Wow. nice COM-PEW-TOR you've got there, RCA. I see you spent the extra cash for the blinkey lights panels. Good choice. Those definitely let people know they're looking at a computer and not just a prop. Assuming there ever was a computer manufactured that had a big panel of unlabeled multicolored light bulbs mounted above the tape drive, what did the bulbs represent? Maybe the machine ran on a thirty-two-Tinkerbell system? Another good choice there, because those had way better error correction than the old sixteen-Tinkerbell units.

People in 1970 did know one thing about computers: every computer used the font Amelia. See the goofy text that says "computer crafted color"? That's Ameila, and no computer in reality has ever displayed text in that font, unless somebody was being cheeky.

Now, though, I think we've finally let go of that inaccurate Amelia font myth. Now, we only use Ameila to be ironic, or, you know, cheeky about computers. Come to think of it, you know what other computer trope needs to die a fiery death? The fact that, in every movie, computers STILL make "bleepity bleep" noises when displaying text or calculating something. Nobody's computer has ever done that, and if it did, the owner would immediately march straight off to the CONTROL PANEL>SOUND menu to turn that shit right off. And yet, here in The Future, movie computers go bleepity bleep. Thanks, movie industry, for always talking down to your audience, eighty percent of which is probably smarter than you are.

*Unless you consider the fact that "digital" also can mean "of, involving, or relating to, the fingers", in which case going to the bathroom usually is a digital procedure.

Click for big.


Steve Miller said...

Having worked on an RCA color television production line in 1970, I can assure you that a digital process was involved in the final inspection of sets. Yep, the inspector held a little pencil mallet in his fingers and tapped the end on the tuning dial. If the picture flashed, I pulled it off the line to a re-work station. If the picture held steady, the inspector reversed the mallet and stamped the serial number tag, I dragged the leading edge of the set's pallet to a board 14 behind the lead of the set ahead of it, and the guy at the packaging area used a pneumatic staple gun to attach and close a box over the set.

Occasionally, he stapled his digits.

No computers necessary.

Mandibles said...

Interesting fact: That font originated from the number system used to sort bank checks. It's still used today for the routing numbers on the bottom of the check.


Phil Provins said...

OMG. WTF? RCA's version of a PC/ PMS book? That SOB is a BMF. LOL. JK. TTYL... AFK.

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