Sunday, August 6, 2023

Inflation in 1983 must have been horrible

File this under fun things you never noticed before in your magazine collection.
"Elephant Never Forgets" was the exceptionally entertaining slogan of Elephant Memory Systems, one of computer manufacturer Leading Edge's brands, and their line of floppy disks and magnetic media. Originally intended in 1980 for the mass market with its bright, eye-catching pachyderm logo and stark yellow-orange colour scheme, Elephant disks developed an excellent reputation and eventually became a premium product. We had some of those back in the day, though being a bit of a 5.25" connoisseur, I always favoured old-school Memorex in the brown paper sleeves myself.

In October 1983, Creative Computing ran the ad I've got on top on their back cover. Elephant sold what they called "The Book" as a marketing gimmick for a cool "earth dollar" to tell you, in eighty pages of purple prose, all those obvious things like don't touch the disk, do keep it in its sleeve, don't feed it to alligators, parrots or small pets, and do make backups (on Elephant disks, of course). Today in 2023 that $1 would be a little over $3. In more pedestrian terms this would have been like sending in a nominal fee for their catalogue and marketing material. I never got that book myself but I bet it was epic.

In November 1983, the very next month, Creative Computing ran almost exactly the same ad in the same place on the back cover — except now, "The Book" cost you a cool Earth dollar and four bits. That's right: in just one month, the cost of EMS' flagship promotional item increased by a whopping 50%. When you have to pay fifty percent more to just get the same advertisements, that's some inflation, pal.

Leading Edge hit hard times in the mid-1980s as the PC market got cutthroat and sold off Elephant to Avery Dennison, the office supply manufacturers, who gradually phased out the brand prior to exiting the floppy disk manufacturing market entirely in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, those and other divestments weren't enough to save the company; Leading Edge went bankrupt anyway in 1989 and was subsequently acquired by Daewoo.

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