Do You Compute? Selling Tech from the Atomic Age to the Y2K Bug, 1950-1999
On the wall of my childhood bedroom, I had a poster of Miles Davis, deep in thought, emblazoned below with the small rainbow Apple logo and simple statement, “Think Different.” This was long before the iPod or iPhone, and there was no digital image or reference, nor a computer anywhere in the ad.
It was a genius concept. For Apple, this may have been a cheeky nod to IBM branding of 40 years before. I thought about that ad when flipping through the pages of Do You Compute? Selling Tech from the Atomic Age to the Y2K Bug, 1950-1999, not just because of the idea that Apple or tech was selling me, but about how steadfastly significant tech advertising and branding has been on our psyche. It’s the idea of a better tomorrow, yes, but also a functional application of how technology will spearhead that improvement. Editors Ryan Mungia and J.C. Gabel say that Do You Compute? is a “broad survey featuring the very best of computer advertising in the 20th century,” and, in many ways, it’s a collection of some of the great moments in graphic design history from that same period. The editors note the fine line between engineering and science fiction, and I recall the ways early advertisements of the first computers made the machines almost look like space helmets. Where are we going next? Do You Compute? shows us all those places we chose to venture. —Evan Pricco