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Flojomojo

A bunch of PC ads from December 6, 1994

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CompUSA used to be one of my fav shops. I considered it the kingpin in a 1sq mile area which also had a BestBuy, ComputerCity, Software ETC, Newegg, and 2 mom'n'pop shops. Add in a TigerDirect and MicroCity if you expand the area a little.

 

Today I would need to drive like 50 miles to get something as innocuous as a network card. Or go online and wait a day to have it delivered.

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My parents over the years had accumulated savings bonds given to me by various relatives and turned them over to me when I turned 18. Being the responsible *cough* young person that I was, I immediately went out and bought a Pentium 75. The sysop of my favorite local BBS ran a 486DX/100 and was super jealous. I felt like a rich kid for once.

 

It came with 8mb of RAM and I wanted 16mb for the upcoming Windows 95, so I scoured computer shopper for the cheapest memory.

 

Fun times.

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I wanted to jog my memory about how expensive it was to play DOOM properly on a decent PC with a sound card. These are snips from the New York Times business section on Tuesday, December 6, 1994, just after the Macintosh, Sega 32X and Atari Jaguar ports came out, and as holiday sales would be starting up. The Tuesday Times always had a lot of computer store ads like this; I just snipped the first few interesting pages, but it went on and on. To help place this in cultural context: a few pages later, there are movie ads for The Lion King, Pulp Fiction, Star Trek Generations, The Professional, and others. Movies hung on for a long time back then.

 

Remember that with inflation,

$1.00 in 1994 = $1.68 in 2018 money (actually lower than I would have thought)

So you can multiply these prices by 1.68 to get a modern equivalent of how expensive things were on this day.

Or basically double it to account for sales tax and the extra stuff you inevitably needed when getting a new computer back then (blank media, surge protector, mouse pad, printer cable, modem, and so on).

 

  • The "Apple Tax" was real and in full force back then, despite this being the time of many Road Apples. Lots of Performas.
  • IBM 386 compatibles were still an option (perhaps to provide an anchor price at the low end), despite being obviously obsolete
  • Multimedia was costly, Pentium even more so, laptops more than that, color laptops outrageously so. There was a ThinkPad for $6149!
  • Storage was generally offered in hundreds of megabytes
  • RAM was in the single digit megabytes
  • DOOM ran best on a 486 with at least 4MB of RAM. The official specs said it could work on a 386, but that was only true if you made the window small and were tolerant of slide-show frame rates.

...]

At about that time I upgraded my 386sx to a 486slc2; that's the ibm chip not the slower cyrix chip of the same name. It was a relatively cheap upgrade and Doom might have been one of the reasons for it. Computer hardware was a big investment in those days but we saved on software so it balanced out.

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Comp USA used to be an outfit called Soft Warehouse based in Addison, TX (one town over from my hometown). It was a small retail store in an industrial park-like area. We bought lots of software for our PCs there. I might still have a Soft Warehouse mouse pad. It was amazing to witness their growth into Comp USA.

I used to go to the Soft Warehouse too. I loved that store... I heard that they had to change their name because of some other company with the same name suing them. Once they turned into CompUSA and started growing, I was hooked. I remember waiting in my car for a computer they had in their Black Friday ad in '93. I was like #2 or 3 in the store and I thought I had won the lottery!

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Remember the "Computer Shopper" magazine in the 90s? Every month it was the size of a phone book, full of ads like these. My friend and I would dive in to find the latest prices on things.

 

If I explain that to younger people today, they are like "What's a phone book"? :_(

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I totally remember Computer Shopper, except I was too cheap to buy them. So I went for the free tabloid versions, Computer Currents and Microtimes. Always looked forward to the Hi-Tech USA ad, which had this huge matrix of PC prices by CPU and peripheral combinations. Every issue I would study up on it, drooling.

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I regret using Computer Shoppers to wipe my ass. But(!) it was one of the things I did to save to get the 486.

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Is there an ignore function on this board? I've no tolerance for assholes like this, who think they can just make life unpleasant for everyone, and everyone just has to take it. F that. And you.

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