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“Found In The Attic – Atari: Bringing The Computer Age Home”

In the early 1980s, as the world was slowly advancing beyond the original video gaming systems toward the exciting start of the personal computer age, Atari realized that it needed to get with the times.  It needed to bring out a computer, so in 1981 they brought out two — the Atari 400 and 800.
In the attached brochure you can see their marketing efforts for this new technology that not many people understood, but a growing number of people felt they wanted.  Under the slogan “We’ve brought the computer age home”, Atari boldly entered the personal computer arena.  Ultimately it wasn’t enough to help Atari survive, but it was a good effort nonetheless.
The brochure says that the Atari 400 has a large capacity 16K memory and a pressure-sensitive keyboard.  The 800 also has 16K of memory but is expandable to a whopping 48K, and it also features a typewriter keyboard!  The brochure also says that you can play the ultimate in computer games, teach yourself new subjects and skills, balance budgets — even write your own computer programmes (not a selling point today, but back then it was important).  For the home office, it promises that you can follow investments, chart stocks, analyze bond yields and compute interest rates — advanced stuff for 1981 (especially with the internet still about 15 years away)!
Atari was ahead of the game with it’s selection of optional peripherals.  The brochure lists a tape drive, a disk drive, a printer, and an interface module that you can connect to digitizers, plotters, controllers, and sensors.
Finally, the brochure proudly mentions that their computers connect to any tv, produces 16 colours (compare that with over 16 Million today), has a 320×192 screen resolution, and more.  The photo makes it look really enticing too.
All-in-all, a great effort from Atari who needed to be seen as more than just a video game console company.  If they could have gotten more of these early computers into more peoples homes they potentially could have remained a powerhouse.  Unfortunately they didn’t, and some other poor launches (like the historically awful ET:The Extra Terrestrial video game) caused the company to disintegrate.
More 2 come…

In the early 1980s, as the world was slowly advancing beyond the original video gaming systems toward the exciting start of the personal computer age, Atari realized that it needed to get with the times.  It needed to bring out

“Found In The Attic – The Vectrex Arcade System”

Here is a brochure from one of the most incredible and revolutionary consoles from the glory days of gaming systems — The Vectrex Arcade System.  I can still remember seeing this system in the stores.  These were the days of Atari & Intellivision … 8 bit systems that had to be connected to your tv.  Then along came Vectrex, with it’s own screen (making it theoretically portable) and featuring hi-tech vector graphics.  I was stunned.  Of course, it wasn’t cheap (I seem to recall a figure of $600 back in the early 80s), so I could only dream about owning one.
I had forgotten about the Vectrex until seeing one in a vintage gaming shop about five years ago.  Now I find this brochure stored away in my folks’ attic.  These experiences brought me right back to the day I saw Vectrex in stores.
I still think the Vectrex is a very important console in the history of gaming & computers, and here is the brochure that shows it off.  Enjoy!

Here is a brochure from one of the most incredible and revolutionary consoles from the glory days of gaming systems — The Vectrex Arcade System.  I can still remember seeing this system in the stores.  These were the days of

“Found In The Attic – The Little Sears Card”

Are you old enough to remember when Sears had that small credit card?  It was only about 2/3rds the height of every other credit card out there, which made it unique but also hard to store in a wallet.
The attached photos shows what the card looked like in 1981 — simple blue & white, with the standard Sears logo.  The photos show a pretty woman with big teeth happily showing the card.  There is also a photo of a family exiting a Sears store – the father wearing a bright blue 70s-style leisure suit.  The other photos highlight people ordering from Sears over the phone (very popular back then) as well as ordering in store from their well-known catalog. All-in-all, not a bad flyer for 30+ years ago.  More 2 come…

Are you old enough to remember when Sears had that small credit card?  It was only about 2/3rds the height of every other credit card out there, which made it unique but also hard to store in a wallet.The attached

“Found In The Attic – Star Wars Action Figures (Part 4)”

Okay here’s the final part in the Star Wars Action Figures brochure series, featuring three more toys and three more kids being teased with the hottest toys of the age.
First we have a radio-controlled R2D2.  The photo makes it look huge, almost life-size.  The text however makes it known that it is only 20cm tall.  That kid with the Art Garfunkel afro looks pretty happy though.
The second toy, the Creature Cantina, is bizarre.  Does the cantina in the movie, while really entertaining, merit an entire playset?  The photo doesn’t make it look very good and the text doesn’t make it sound good either.  The kid playing with it once again looks delighted.
The final toy has to be the coolest of the three – Darth Vader’s Tie Fighter.  With this kids can pretend they are the dark lord and try to destroy the rebel alliance … what fun!
So that’s it for Star Wars action figures and playsets from 1979.  I wonder how much George Lucas made from these?  It’s unknown, but what is known is that the merchandising mania only got stronger when the next movie came out in 1980.  More 2 come…

Okay here’s the final part in the Star Wars Action Figures brochure series, featuring three more toys and three more kids being teased with the hottest toys of the age.First we have a radio-controlled R2D2.  The photo makes it look

“Found In The Attic – Star Wars Action Figures (Part 2)”

Part 2 of the Star Wars Action Figures flyer shows three larger vehicles in George Lucas’ ever-expanding merchandising empire. 
The first one is the “Land of the Jawas” playset.  As I mentioned in the previous post, the Jawas were barely in the original movie so getting their own vehicle in this lineup is pretty impressive, especially since the final time this vehicle is seen in the movie it has been burned by the Storm Troopers and everyone onboard has been destroyed.  What fun for kids to re-enact this!!
The next vehicle simply kicks butt.  If I could have had any vehicle in this flyer (part 3 and 4 to come later), it would be this — the Millennium Falcon.  Just look at that thing!  It has everything — the cockpit, the satellite dish (for picking up interstellar ESPN), the hidden cargo hold under the floor boards, and more.  It even has the game table for pretending to play that holographic chess game from the movie!  Awesome.
The 3rd vehicle on this page is bizarre.  Call me crazy, but I don’t recall a van in the movie!  The flyer invites you to “join in the custom van craze”.  What are you supposed to do with this, put your action figures in it and pretend to drive around?  Very strange.
The other thing that gets me about this page is that it must have been a huge tease for the two kids in the photos to play with these toys/prototypes during the photo shoot and then have to leave them behind.  Seriously, these were THE toys in the late 70s, and seeing something like the Millennium Falcon would have almost made your head explode.  Then to have to leave the toy behind would have been brutal.  More 2 come…

Part 2 of the Star Wars Action Figures flyer shows three larger vehicles in George Lucas’ ever-expanding merchandising empire. The first one is the “Land of the Jawas” playset.  As I mentioned in the previous post, the Jawas were barely in

“Found In The Attic – Star Wars Action Figures (Part 1)”

Oh boy this takes me back!  The attached image shows the first part of a flyer for original Star Wars figures from the late 70s.  This was about the time that George Lucas started to become more interested in merchandising than movie-making, which seemingly continues to the present day.
Anyway, the first few pages of this flyer show the action figures available at that point in time.  Most are about 30cm tall, except Darth Vader and Chewbacca (38cm) and R2-D2 and the Jawas (20cm).  It’s strange that the Jawas are even offered as action figures as they were in the movie for probably less than 10 minutes.  Same goes for Boba Fett — he wasn’t even in the first movie!  The flyer says he is “soon to be a major character in the Star Wars sequel”.  Not in my opinion.
Also here are the Storm Troopers, probably the least accurate shooters in movie history, and Han Solo who is listed as the “cynical and over-confident pilot of the Millennium Falcon”.
I’ll be honest, I had a bunch of these action figures and loved them!  I also had the X-Wing Fighter which we’ll see in the next post.  More 2 come…

Oh boy this takes me back!  The attached image shows the first part of a flyer for original Star Wars figures from the late 70s.  This was about the time that George Lucas started to become more interested in merchandising

“Found In The Attic – Glory Days At The Zoo”

Here’s another quick one from the history of the Toronto Zoo, and sadly it’s a site that won’t be seen there any longer.  The attached file shows a postcard of a large herd of eight African Elephants strolling around their new home at the zoo.  As you may know, the elephants have recently left the zoo, likely never to return.  It was finally decided that the cold Canadian winter was particularly detrimental to the elephants, as was the need to keep them indoors all winter.  So, these mighty beats, and my favourite animal, have left the zoo.
The postcard lists a series of summer events at the zoo, including public feedings of many animals and the chance to meet some of the animal keepers (I think they still do this).  The prices of tours are listed, and once again it shows how far inflation has affected our lives.  The price of a zoomobile ride (which they still have) was $1.
Strangely, the photo was taken by a photographer from Ireland, and the postcard was printed there too.  Didn’t we have any photographers and printers in Toronto back then?!  More 2 come…

Here’s another quick one from the history of the Toronto Zoo, and sadly it’s a site that won’t be seen there any longer.  The attached file shows a postcard of a large herd of eight African Elephants strolling around their

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Swing Bridge

 

Swing Bridge  

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Union Station (Toronto)

 

Union Station (Toronto)  

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