Do You Compute? Selling Tech from the Atomic Age to the Y2K Bug, 1950-1999


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Do You Compute? is a broad survey featuring the very best of computer advertising in the 20th century

By Ryan Mungia & Steven Heller

Before Alexa and the iPhone, there was a large and unwieldy mainframe computer. In the postwar 1950s, computers were mostly used for aerospace and accounting purposes. To the public at large, they were on a rung that existed somewhere between engineering and science fiction. Magazine ads and marketing brochures were designed to create a fantasy surrounding these machines for prospective clients: Higher profit margins! Creativity unleashed! Total automation!

With the invention of the microchip in the 1970s came the PC and video games, which shifted the target of computer advertising from corporations to the individual. By the end of the millennium, the notion of selling tech burst wide open to include robots, cell phones, blogs, online dating services, and much, much more.

From the Atomic Age to the Y2K bug, Do You Compute? presents a connoisseur’s selection of graphic gems culled from museums, university archives, and private collections to illustrate the evolution of the computer from its early days as a hulking piece of machinery to its current state as a handheld device.

Accompanied by two essays—one by cultural anthropologist Ryan Mungia and the other by graphic design historian Steven Heller—and including five different decade-long timelines that highlight some of the most influential moments in computer history, this fun yet meaningful volume is a unique look at the computer and how it has shaped our world.

Do You Compute? is a recommended resource for visual historians, graphic design scholars, and anyone interested in the evolution of tech-related advertising.

Edited and designed by Ryan Mungia
Cover design by John Zabawa

Co-published by Hat & Beard Press and Boyo Press

Hardcover, 240 pages, full color, 8 × 10 inches

ISBN: 978-0-99-161982-5

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