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Supercomputers as impulse shopping items?

by Critical Commons Manager

The prominence with which the Burroughs B205 computer is displayed in these scenes from The Angry Red Planet brings to mind the carefully staged product placement strategies of more recent Hollywood films. But, unlike the consumer goods (cars, sodas, electronics) that dominate 21st century product placement, a Burroughs supercomputer seen in the background of a Roger Corman production would hardly inspire impulse buying among viewers. What, then, was the purpose of displaying the brand names of these computers so prominently? One answer is consistent with the overall corporate strategy of familiarization, which was actively practiced by IBM and others during this period. The coming age of computing technology was viewed as a threat to existing social and economic structures throughout the 1950s and 60s. The increasing ubiquity of computing technology in many films seems designed to reinforce a teleological narrative about the inevitability of computers in the workplace, home and other institutions.

Burroughs supercomputer product placement montage from Angry Red Planet

The Burroughs B205 is prominently displayed in the background of multiple dialogue scenes in Angry Red Planet

from The Angry Red Planet (1959)
Creator: Ib Melchior
Distributor: MGM
Posted by Critical Commons Manager
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