Sunday, September 21, 2014

From 1982: William Shatner peddles Commodore's VIC-20

Roughly 991 days ago, I had a post featuring advertisements and other goodies from the March 1982 issue of Creative Computing magazine. One of the advertisements was for Commodore's VIC-20, which was available to fledgling computer geeks for $299.95.

The March 1982 advertisement had featured a lovely rainbow.

That apparently wasn't enough to motivate the geeks to buy.

It was time to bring out the heavy artillery.

It was time for Shatner.

The May 1982 VIC-20 advertisement features William Shatner, aka James Tiberius Kirk, Thomas Jefferson Hooker, airline passenger Robert Wilson and that guy named Rack who comes to a bad end in Kingdom of the Spiders.1

Shatner is quoted as stating the following about the VIC-20: "The wonder computer of the 1980s. Under $300." (Whether he actually uttered those words is another question.) It's also possible that this part of the advertisement can be attributed to Shatner, as it also appears in quotation marks: "The best computer value in the world today. The only computer you'll need for years to come."

Commodore also ups the ante by showing some of the games and applications that run on the VIC-20, including:
  • Vic Super Alien
  • Sargon II Chess
  • Draw Poker
  • Personal Finance I and II
  • Midnight Drive/Road Race
  • Radar Ratrace
  • Casino-style Blackjack
  • Spacemath
  • Jupiter Lander
  • Superslot
  • Vic Avenger
  • Biorhythm Compatability
  • Blue Meanies From Outer Space

Those all sound nice. But it was obviously Shatner who was the big draw here. I'm surprised, in a way, that his photograph isn't featured more prominently in the advertisement. This was published just before Shatner's new movie, a little something called Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, hit theaters on June 4, 1982. It was a very Star Trek summer. And it was a watershed time for home-computer users. The VIC-20 is still discussed every day at, among other places, a forum on a website called VIC-20 Denial.

1. William Shatner was also recently featured in perhaps the Greatest Selfie Of All-Time, this gem posted on Twitter by actor LeVar Burton on August 24.

Shatner, 83, is himself very active on Twitter. His @WilliamShatner account has more than 21,000 tweets. Former co-worker Lyzz Jones and I were fortunate to take part in a short conversation about boy bands with him back in August 2013. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

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