Ads #76: OMNI Advertising (1985-86)

You remember OMNI - it was a science magazine with a sort-of unique edge.  It hit the hard sciences like Scientific; however, it often hit UFOs and pseudosciences as well.  I guess it shouldn't be too surprising that it wasn't your run-of-the-mill sci-mag, considering it was launched by the spouse of Penthouse's Bob Guccione.

Each issue had science news (Continuum) and a section with cool photographs (microorganisms, planets) or sci-fi artwork.  Problem was, it was pretty dense and made for tough reading for the younger set.  It probably could have dumbed down a few notches and still been able to hold its head aloof.

In the mid-nineties, the magazine went bye bye.  But here for you today are some resurrected advertisements pulled from its glossy pages.  As you can imagine, these aren't ads for pudding mix and tampons; these are OMNI ads, full of a special 1980s nerdy sci-mojo.  Read on...

Omni went online with Compuserve in 1986.  I'd say that's pretty impressive.

Of course, can you image what downloading a full magazine would have been like with dial-up paying by the minute?  Obviously, it was text based, with little to no graphics.

Have the clouds arrived yet?  Are we still waiting on the mysterious clouds?

Will you be ready for a NASA budget that has been cut to pieces? Will you be ready for the space shuttle cancellation? Are you prepared for a shrinking space program?

"Perhaps the children you help won't go to Mars after all. But all of them will have to live in tomorrow's high tech world.  Unless we do something about it, an appalling 90 percent won't be able to cope. They are graduating from high school today woefully illiterate in science and technology.  They won't be able to operate the computers, robots and lasers that will be standard equipment in just a few short years."

I totally had the Clue VCR game.

It wasn't until 1991 that I finally bit the bullet and bought a CD player.  This ad is from 1985, so I was indeed behind the curve when it came to discarding my cassettes for these shiny new discs.  I still remember the first CDs I bought: U2's Achtung Baby and some Smiths album with an orange cover.

Leonard Nimoy R.I.P.

Remember the Halley's Comet hype?  It was last seen in 1986, and won't come around again until 2061.

"Is that %$#@ you, Jack? Are you #$% using that cordless phone @#$% again?"

Did the Panasonic ad writers not realize that these symbols make it sound like they're swearing?  "Are you f***ing using that f***ing cordless phone again?!?"


  1. The orange cover Smiths album is "Louder Than Bombs". Omni was also co-founded by Bob Guccione and his wife, Kathy Keeton.

  2. I subscribed to OMNI from it's inception until I moved - and forgot to renew in late 1990. I kept every issue, until 9 years ago when I moved again and went through several filing boxes full of them. I checked eBay and there didn't seem to be much value in them at that time, so I donated the majority to Salvation Army. I kept close to 20 that had awesome cover art (and OMNI always had amazing cover art) or cool articles (interviews with Sagan, Arthur C Clarke, etc.) and have them in a closet in proper protectors. Wish I had put them in those plastic sleeves when I first got them. Thanks for jarring my memory!

  3. I subscribed to Omni for a few years, starting when it was first published in 1978.

    The Science Fiction book club looks pretty good but really $32 a book in the early 1980s? $32 in 1980 is $92 now. They were nice looking but not for that price. Now, if they were autographed by the authors instead of the phony auto on the cover page, that would be different.

  4. My older sister worked in a KB Toy & Hobby in downtown Philly for a while in the early-mid 80s. It stayed open for at least 15 years after that, which I found pretty impressive.

  5. Good stuff! I held off on buying a CD player until 1995. First CD was The Best of CCR.