Thanks to Dave O for posting a blog reminding me about the Beagle Brothers. I remember those all-too-well, from the days of Byte and Nibble? magazine(s).

Before the internet, there were BBSes. Rather than 1 computer calling every computer in the world, 1 computer called JUST 1 computer. But that was advanced stuff; that didn’t happen for me until 1988. And I never physically met another human being that did this (outside of planned gatherings) until 1992 or so. But what about my computer years of 1980-1988? How did you download back then?

Well, you bought a huge book full of programs, and spent up to a month typing one in (I did this with Eliza, then promptly accidentally deleted the file. At age 8, this damaged my spirit permanently.) Or you’d look in the last page of Byte or Nibble magazine for their “oneliners” section (and later, “twoliners”). These were programs that were one line long (256 characters), that did all kinds of amazing things. You could type one up in 2-3 minutes — faster than many files I download today.

But of course even these only came once or twice a month!

Enter the Beagle Brothers. Their advertisements used stylized 19th century figures (Dave posted an example on his blog). It was an interesting marketing tactic, because back then, computers may as well have been in the 19th century! I had to save 3 months’ allowance to get a 16K memory upgrade. That’s 0.0015% the size of the gig of RAM most machines have now. I would have had to save my allowance for 16,384 years to get a gig of memory back then, and it would fill a room.

Anyway, the Beagle Brothers ads sometimes had oneliners of their own incorporated into the ads! To date, these are the only advertisements I’ve ever seen that were, in a sense, “downloadable content” (unless you count CueCat barcodes, but those never caught on). The only ads ever that were actually programs. Check out the 2 examples HERE. Other nostalgic memories of these ads are posted on the Beagle Brothers webpage HERE. Thanks for reminding me of the memories, Dave! And thanks being cutting-edge (in the 1980s) with the magazine subscriptions, Dad!