Alan Alda for Atari XL computers

Alan Alda for Atari XL computers, 1983

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In the early 1980s it seemed to be a common occurrence for computer companies to enlist celebrities for their ads. Commodore had William Shatner for the VIC-20, Tandy had Isaac Asimov for the TRS-80, and Atari…they chose Alan Alda. Now Alan Alda was certainly a well known celebrity and probably the most famous of all of these at the time. However, it would seem to me that going with sci-fi icons to advertise your computer was a much better way to go. But maybe it was the ringing endorsement of “It’s going all the time!” that sold Atari.

Ultimately, it was Commodore that won the 8-bit computer war. However, I think it had less to do with William Shatner than with their ability to beat out the competition on price due to their vertical integration.





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