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16 January 2013

Somehow, through the magic of the Internet rabbit hole, I found several hundred volumes of old TV commercials on the YouTubes. They’re kind of fascinating to watch — the oldest ones I’ve found are from 1980, which means they were all in my lifetime. Some of them are from times that I remember, and some of them are actually commericals I remember.

I often think about (and thus blog about) time travel, because it’s an interesting brain exercise. But with things like the above-mentioned YouTube channel, time travel exists after a fashion. You can go back and revisit a period in (recent) American history and see the culture through the eyes of people who were trying to sell us spaghetti sauce, primitive computer games, and sweet audio component systems.


You can see news promos about the Iran-Contra scandal, or Ronald Reagan’s first 100 days in office. You can see how the Navy and the Marines would try to recruit you back in the day. You’ll see ads for shows that you don’t remember existing, right next to shows you thought you used to watch all the time. And all because a few people decided to sift through their collection of VHS tapes, pull out the commercials, and collect them all in a repository online.

I (obviously) think there’s something cool about that. Like them or hate them, commercials are a part of our cultural heritage. We’re a capitalist society, and how we try to sell goods and services to each other is reflective of who we are as a people. It’s a window to our past, and one that, thanks to the Internet, will probably be preserved well into our future.

Besides, it’s funny to see what the all-new Hyundai Elantra cost back then (it was less than $7,000).

So, long story short, I ended up spending far too much time watching commercials for products that probably haven’t been available in 30 years. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve found in the Internet rabbit hole?

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