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Media Inc: 25 Years of Technology, July 2006 

From MS-DOS to the Cancer Cure
by Ann Jensen Warman, brandUNITY

Twenty-five years ago, the first IBM-PC hit the market, starting the revolution that integrated computers into our everyday lives. With16 kilobytes of memory, expandable to 256 k, and two optional floppy disk drives, you could also opt for a pricey color monitor. Driven by MS-DOS, you had to keep your crib sheets of text key commands next to your keyboard, in order to remember a complicated sequence of nonsensical commands.

There had to be a better way, and Apple offered it with a graphical user interface on the Lisa desktop computer in August of 1983. Icons, pull-down menus, mouse with pointer, clickable buttons, drag and drop, these were the visual communication tools that defined user-friendly in those days.

The Apple Lisa and its successors, Lisa 2 and the popular Mac XL sold until 1986, with initial price set at $9,995. Windows 1.0 began shipping in November 1985, Pagemaker hit the market in 1987, followed by Excel in 1988. Cell phone subscribers grew to one million during those years.

While the 1980’s marked the unleashing of the desktop computer, the internet was cast into the populous in the 1990s. Tim Bernsers-Lee distributed the first graphical browser during 1991, making it easy for anyone with internet access to view and contribute information. In 1993, the White House got its own URL,, and for the first time, businesses and media got a glimmer of what the internet would eventually do for their modus operendi.

The following year, the first online banner ads begin to appear, noted on, for the beverage Zima and for AT&T. Real Audio released internet audio streaming capabilities and in 1996 the domain name sold for $15,000. Back then, new releases of Netscape and Microsoft Internet browsers were distributed quarterly, in a hot, competitive battle for browser market share. In 1997, the domain name sold for $150,000.

Paralleling the desktop computer revolution and the emergence of the internet, the cell phone market, in some ways, unfolded more slowly. Motorola brought the16-ounce DynaTAC cell phone to commerce in 1983, priced at a hefty $3,500 per unit. Though the first cellular phone call ever made was placed in the United States, European countries have far surpassed us in the third generation cellular ride during this new century – if only for the moment.

In Japanese and Korean cultures, talking in public on a cell phone is frowned up, hence the upsurge in text messaging and email by cell phone.

Currently forefront are phones using QR codes, a form of barcode that allows the phone subscriber to make purchases by swiping their cell phone over a product. Live streaming radio and television, real-time conferencing, music downloads, and more made the cell phone into a sort of iPod that gives you everything.

It’s a no-brainer that reception areas will increase worldwide and that whatever can go faster will. Cell phones are becoming much more like PDAs, with calendars, address books, list management tools built-in, capable of interacting with appliances, turning on the lights, starting up the microwave, having dinner ready by the time you get home.

For advertising, between now and 2010, technology will open up new ways to reach customer touch points. Visit a website and click on a streaming video ad to see more information about a product or service. Find out which song is being played on the radio by holding your phone up to a speaker and have the service figure it out for you.

Recently PQ Media reported that combined spending on blogs, podcasts, and rss news feeds, rose by 198% in 2005 to a total of $20.4 million. The American Association of Advertising Agencies predicts that internet video will grow this year by 55%, podcasting by 30%, and blogs by 20%, ultimately reaching a $757 million combined market by 2010.

The Advertising Research Foundation’s new definition for terms of engagement explores the process of moving a prospect to brand adoption by addressing buyers within their specific digital environments. Through data personalization, the message is individually tailored to the target buyer’s needs and personally delivered, like never before.

Change is opportunity, and certainly life is more productive with gigbyte capacity versus 256 K. But who would have guessed that 25 years ago? Possibly the best science fiction writers and a few absent-minded technology geeks. Now, let’s look forward to the cure for cancer, we seem to be almost there.

Ann Jensen Warman is principal at brandUNITY, a branding, print & web design, and marketing firm. Visit our blog on new technology, marketing trends, and fine art at www.brandUNITY.

Content of Article in July 2006 Media Inc Page 86, additional images page 100 >>

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