The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Old Is Gold …
February 17, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Communication Strategy, Culture, Innovation, Marketing, Technology

So recently someone sent me this ad for a scientific calculator …

I’m not sure when it’s from, but a quick search revealed the RadioShack TRS-80 came out in 1980 so it’s certainly a long time ago.

But here’s the thing, I don’t just like it because I’m a nostalgic fool, I like it because despite being very product focused … despite them shoving a ‘direct marketing’ element into the execution … despite the product costing a bloody fortune … it’s refreshing to see an ad that gets to the point rather than pontificate about what it ‘believes in’.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe the values of a brand are massively important, however so many brands these days spout a bunch of contrived bollocks … either because they haven’t got anything interesting or valuable to say about their product or they’re a faceless corporation attempting to sound ‘purposeful’ by retrofitting some bland, meaningless value-terminology to themselves, despite no one actually giving a fuck about what they say because all they do is exactly the same as everyone else.

Phew … I feel better after that.

But that aside, maybe I like this ad because it seems to have inspired the positioning for Nokia’s N95, the first – and possibly last – time the Finnish phone peddlers did something that was innovative [for 2007] both in terms of the product and their point of view.

However, if I’m being totally honest, the real reason I like it is probably because I still use this as my calculator.

Yep, the one I got when I was 12 [or maybe 13] … 2 years after the TRS-80 came out.

The one where I’ve still not used 99% of the buttons on the left hand side of the calculator.

The one that is so old that the screen doesn’t let me type 553l8008 clearly.

The one I wrote a blog post about.

Which all goes to show, it might be a new year, but I’m still as pathetic as I’ve always been.


33 Comments so far
Leave a comment

You’re one strange dude.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I think the word you’re looking for is “twisted”.

Comment by DH

i think the term is fucked up.

Comment by andy@cynic

Something we can all agree on.

Comment by DH

You forgot another reason, you look like the guy in the ad.

Comment by DH

You mean the dude in the ads dad.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Yes a calculator is a computer, and for 1980 I assume this product represented a giant leap forward in terms of technology, but by choosing to frame it as a “computer”, Radio Shack were shameless in their attempt to justify a price premium. Even more so when I am guessing all this computer could do was arithmetic.

Comment by Pete

the ad is fucking older than you and youre fucking kicking it because the tech of the 80s didnt let you fucking check the time in guatemala? you miserable mean fuck. i can’t wait for some 30 something wanker to write a comment pissing on all your google bollocks in a few years. actually they dont have to because that shitty 1980s calculator is still more useful today than your fucked up google glass.

Comment by andy@cynic

That wasn’t my intention but you can’t deny calling it a computer was more a strategic decision than a product descriptor.

Comment by Pete

Leave it Pete. Just leave it.

Comment by DH

If memory serves me, which I admit it may not, the “computer” did more than arithmetic, it could store names and phone numbers. Not impressive by the standards available today, but for 1980, a handheld device that could do all that was a giant leap forward.

Comment by Lee Hill

Bloody hell Pete, you’re being a bit harsh … remember this is a time where phones had dials, music was played at either 45, 33 or – in some rare cases – 78rpm and Benny Hill was seen as a comedic genius. Admittedly, only in the US.

Comment by Rob

And it was a computer. Here’s the proof:

Comment by Rob

The ad says it’s programmable in Basic. So it’s a computer.

Comment by John

so you change your fucking iphone, ipad and iwasteoffuckingspace every year because its 1mm thinner and lets you attach a photo to an email more fucking easily but you keep the same calculator youve had as a kid? twat.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by DH

I see your pathetic Texas Instruments piece of shit and raise you a Space Shuttle.

My first calculator – bought in the late 70s – was made by Rockwell, the people who built the space shuttle for NASA.

What next? Your abiding love for your Wang word processor?
(Although I grant you that would trump my IBM golfball).

Comment by Ian Gee

You do know what you have just started don’t you Ian?

Comment by George

His abiding love for his Wang is all too obvious.

Comment by John

I can’t beat that … but I do have Blip, Demon Driver and Merlin still. Basically I’m a hoarder. An old tech hoarder.

Comment by Rob

I sympathise with the hoarding. My Mattel Intellivision console made it from 1980 right up the last house move. Then it went out with the Sony Beta video recorder.

The Betamax survived two burglaries – even the thieves didn’t want it! I always thought that was a good platform for a re-positioning: burglar proof video!

Comment by Ian Gee

I still have my Intellivision. [Skiing is still the best game]

And my Atari 2600. And Phillips G7000. And ZX & Sinclair Spectrum.

My son is going to inherit a museum. Or he will until he takes it to the tip.

Comment by Rob

Merlin? As in this

Oh Robert.

Comment by George

It will be worth its weight in niobium by then.

Comment by Ian Gee

I hope so Ian, it might be all he’ll be getting from me. Except a million pairs of Birkenstocks.

And yes George, that’s it. 6 games of LED brilliance … despite the fact they’re basically variations of the same game.


No, I didn’t think so. Bugger.

Comment by Rob

If you’d googled “isaac asimov ad”, you’d have discovered it comes from 1982

I like the tired of waiting ad in that post, but what do I know.

Comment by John

Why the hell would I do that when you’re my google secretary? And you only like the ‘tired of waiting’ ad because it uses the same font as NIKE which made you feel some sort of excitement. Or something.

[Probably not]

Comment by Rob

Some of us have better things to do than look at NIKE ads. I don’t, but I still don’t look at them.

Comment by John

Nobody reads long copy.

Comment by John

If you read this blog you do.

Comment by DH

As for the values of brands – they’re illustrated by what you do, not what you claim.

Comment by John

everyone who has commented on this post is a fucking freak. except me. im doing it in a bid to save you all. i shouldnt have fucking bothered.

Comment by andy@cynic

We gave you fair warning.

Comment by Hackers4thelulz

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