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Issue No.04 - Oct.-Dec. (2013 vol.35)
pp: 56-68
Patryk Wasiak , Inst. for Cultural Studies, Univ. of Wroclaw, Wroclaw, Poland
Computer dealer demos, such as Boing Ball for the Commodore Amiga, were used to impress trade show audiences and retail customers. Dealer demos, such as those used by Commodore International, Atari, and Apple, illustrate how the home computer was socially constructed as a consumer commodity through the interdependent activities of software companies and user communities rather than simply through the marketing strategies of the hardware industry.
History, Computers, Marketing and sales, Advertising, Home computing,advertisement, History, Computers, Marketing and sales, Advertising, Home computing, computer graphics, history of computing, home computer, demonstration, marketing, user community
Patryk Wasiak, "Computer Dealer Demos: Selling Home Computers with Bouncing Balls and Animated Logos", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.35, no. 4, pp. 56-68, Oct.-Dec. 2013, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2013.16
1. Micro Systems advertisement, InfoWorld,17 Jan. 1983, p. 36.
2. R. Sassatelli, Consumer Culture: History, Theory, and Politics, Sage Publications, 2007, p. 132.
3. N. Oudshoorn and T. Pinch eds., , How Users Matter: The Co-Construction of Users and Technology, MIT Press, 2003.
4. I. MacRury, Advertising, Routledge, 2009, p. 71. These strategies have been extensively discussed within the framework of consumer culture studies, see Sassatelli, Consumer Culture; R. Belk, and J. Sherry eds., Consumer Culture Theory, Elsevier, 2007; A. Berger, , The Objects of Affection. Semiotics and Consumer Culture, Palgrave MacMillan, 2011.
5. M. Reunanen, “Computer Demos—What Makes Them Tick?” licentiate thesis, Helsinki Univ. of Technology, 2009, p. viii; www.kameli.netdemoresearch.
6. See M.T. Schäfer, Bastard Culture! How User Participation Transforms Cultural Production, Amsterdam Univ. Press, 2011.
7. W. Aspray and D. deB. Beaver, “Marketing the Monster: Advertising Computer Technology,” Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 8, no. 2, 1986, p. 138. I am grateful to William Aspray for providing me with a copy of this article.
8. Aspray and Beaver, “Marketing the Monster,” pp. 130-131.
9. M. Lasar, “Make Mainframes, Not War: How Mad Men Sold Computers in the 1960s and 1970s,” Ars Technica,20 May 2012; .
10. Aspray and Beaver, “Marketing the Monster,” p.138.
11. P. Horowitz, “The Selling of the Computer, 1984,” Family Computing, July 1984, p.8.
12. M. Tungate, Adland: A Global History of Advertising, Kogan Page, 2007, pp.114-117.
13. T. Frank, The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism, Chicago Univ. Press, 1997, p.4.
14. “Macy Demo Combined Sell, Entertainment,” Billboard,28 Sept. 1959, pp.16, 21.
15. I. Matthews, “The Commodore 64: Machine of Destiny,”19 May 2003; .
16. N. Sullivan, “Portrait of a Computing Family,” Family Computing, Sept. 1983, pp.64-65.
17. This demo is available only as YouTube video footage, “Commodore PET 2001 Demo,” uploaded 13 Feb. 2012, .
18. Several brochures are available at the Commodore website, .
19. B. Bagnall, Commodore: A Company on the Edge, Variant Press, 2011, chap.9.
20. Bagnall, Commodore: A Company on the Edge, chap.9.
21. Bagnall, Commodore: A Company on the Edge, chap.26.
22. Bagnall, Commodore: A Company on the Edge, chap.26.
23. Sullivan, “Portrait of a Computing Family,” p.61.
24. There is a website dedicated to this demo, “The Commodore Christmas Demo,” http:/
25. For instance, such a card for the Apple II was included in SoftSide, Dec. 1980.
26. J. Maher, The Future Was Here: The Commodore Amiga, MIT Press, 2012.
27. For technical details, see E. Graham, “Graphic Scene Simulations,” Amiga World, May–June pp.18-24.
28. E. Wright, “The Juggler,”21 May 2011;∼erniewjuggler.html .
29. H. Laser, “Osaka and the Turbo SIG,” info, vol. 36, Feb. 1991, p.31.
30. “Amiga Promo Video,” 1988. Footage available at the Commodore website,
31. Aspray and Beaver, “Marketing the Monster,” p.134.
32. See Jim Sachs' website, and “Jim Sachs, Computer Artist, Exclusive Interview,” Personal Computer Museum, 2009, http://pcmuseum.casachs1.asp.
33. The graphics collection from this demo is available at the “Amiga Graphics Archive,” .
34. This issue is discussed in The Future Was Here, chap.9.
35. See the O'Wonder website, www.owonder.comamigamagic.
36. Goblin (Tim) interview with Romeo Knight, “Open Bytes,”17 Oct. 2010; demoscene-interview-with-romeo-knight.
37. “Official Commodore France 1200 Demo,” Pouët entry, added 26 May 2004; www.pouet.netprod.php?which=12336 .
38. Comment for “Official Commodore France 1200 Demo,” added by “Zone,” 26 May 2004; www.pouet.netprod.php?which=12336 .
39. The recognizable Atari logo was designed by graphic designer George Opperman. It was heavily used in the manufacturer's marketing materials and as a welcome screen in the Atari 5200 game console. See S. Lai, “Atari Logo Evolution,”, no. 32, June 2003; .
40. Comment for “Atari Dealer Demo,” added by “DBA_Slimer,” 9 Feb. 2009; www.pouet.netprod.php?which=23292 .
41. Comment for “Atari 800 in store demo,” uploaded by “gmanjapan,” 7 Oct. 2006; .
42. D. Crockford, User Manual for Hollywood Medieval, 1982; www.pouet.netnfo.php?which=54484.
43. Email from D. Crockford to P. Wasiak5 June 2012.
44. A. Leyenberger, “Winter CES. The New Atari Computers: Power without the Price,” Analog Computing, Mar. 1985, pp.4-5, 35.
45. X. Park, “The Xanth 8-bit Demos: Everything IEver Wanted to Tell,” Analog Computing, Oct. 1986, p.112.
46. Atari Age forum thread, “Xanth Park,” started 10 Aug. 2010, .
47. Full version of the Atari CES Demo is available at the Atari Age forum, Atari XE Demo Video thread, started 13 Sept. 2011; .
48. A. Leyenberger and L. Pappas, “A Visit to Chicago. The Summer Electronics Show,” Analog Computing, Aug. 1985, pp.4-5, 10.
49. “Atari Robot,” Pouët entry, added 25 Oct. 2011, www.pouet.netprod.php?which=27280 .
50. “The Xanth 8-bit Demos: Everything I Ever Wanted to Tell,” p.114. Technical details are explained in X. Park, “Fujiboink! Behind the Planes. Find Out How,” START, vol. 1, no. 2, Fall 1986, pp.109-113 .
51. Special Demos, disc included with New Atari User, Feb./Mar. 1990, .
52. Maher, The Future Was Here, chap.7.
53. 1040ST commercial footage is available from the “Atari Video Library” website, archives/Video-Libraryvideos-computersST.htm .
54. An extensive collection of Apple advertisements is preserved at the “Macmothership” website, .
55. T. Hormby, “Origin of the Apple I and Apple II Computers,”9 May 2005; .
56. Apple II History website,
57. The history of Bishop's long collaboration with Apple and the technical details of Apple Vision are available on Bishop's website at http://bob-bishop.awardspace.comsoftlist.html .
58. A. Hertzfeld, “Early Demos,” Apr. 1981, Folklore, .
59. M. Tomczyk, The Home Computer Wars, Compute! Publications, 1984, p.10.
60. “Apple IIGS ‘Look’ Intro Ad,” 1986, .
61. See “Feature Interview—Jawaid Bazyar,” GSWorld View, The On-line Journal of Apple II Computing,17 Jun. 2001; Resources/INTERVIEWSjbi.html.
62. Email from O. Goguel to P. Wasiak, 11 Feb. 2013.
63. See and E. Craig, “Emotions High at AppleFest ‘89,” MacWeek,3 Oct. 1989.
64. Press advertisement from an unidentified US magazine, 1991,
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