Boom-era WIRED magazines, part 2

23 Sep

My anthropological thoughts are centered around medical anthro this week (inspired by thought-provoking pieces like Race and the immuno-logics of Ebola response in West Africa from Somatosphere), so you’ll just get another retrofuturist look at the old WIRED magazines I saved from my basement flood.  This time, June 1997:


  •  pg 2: a Philips Magnavox ad – “From Hollywood to Main Street, it’s being heralded as the beginning of a home entertainment revolution. It’s called DVD Video.”
  • pg 22: a Digital Equipment Corporation ad featuring Jeff Bezos (looking chubby and with quite a bit of hair), the CEO and founder of, “the world’s largest, most prosperous on-line bookstore.”
  • pg 42: a blurb mentioning that two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize were disqualified for being digital, as the prize was limited to print sources only. The rules wouldn’t change completely for another eleven years after this issue.
  • pg 65: an ad for an Olympus digital camera that shoots in 640×480 resolution, holds up to 80 standard photos (lower resolution), and costs a mere $599.
  • pg 67: a short profile of Bruce Schneier and his Blowfish cryptography algorithm. 17 years later, his blog Schneier on Security remains a must-read.
  • pg 109-110: a button-pushing opinion piece by Nathan Myhrvold, CTO of Microsoft at the time, about cloning, with some controversial thoughts like, “If humans have a right to reproduce, what right does society have to limit the means?”, “Fear of clones is just another form of racism”, and “The most upsetting possibility in human cloning isn’t superwarriors or dictators. It’s that rich people with big egos will clone themselves. … So what?”
  • pg 114 and beyond: 101 Ways to Save Apple. How amusing to read this while some are in iPhone 6 delirium, especially when the very first item in the list is, “Admit it. You’re out of the hardware game.” Some of the tips were actually on point, suggesting that Apple exploit their talents at UI, get a better ad agency, and focus on better case design. Maybe they took the challenge of #31 to heart, though they can’t meet the suggested price point, “Build a PDA for less than $250 that actually does something: a) cellular email, b) 56-channel TV, c) Internet phone.”
  • pg 124-129: preview of big summer f/x movies: Spawn, Titanic, Batman & Robin, Men in Black, and Anaconda.
  • pg 138 and beyond: a couple of related articles about the increasing spread of the Internet in China (and concern about what would happen in Hong Kong after it reverted to Chinese control that month). I worked on an attempted ISP expansion into China a few years after this and many of the issues in the article — government control, bureaucracy, piracy — were stumbling blocks for us, and others who followed.
  • pg 153: a short review of 3 speech-to-text programs. The author’s favorite retailed between $99-$1695 (based on vocabulary size).
  • pg 158: on the music review page, a review of Lamb’s debut album, which featured what remains one of my favorite songs:
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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Side Topics


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