Obsolete Computer Book Covers

I have some vivid memories of random computer books kicking around the local library around the time I was in High School. Most of them were about a decade old at that time, dating back to the early 80s. Many were obsolete, but for some reason they were all readily available to loan out, whereas more relevant material was nowhere to be found. I always wondered if computer nerds had donated these books to the library the minute they became useless to them. I also recall thinking how strange it was that these books looked both old and new to me at the same time.

There seemed to be no hard rules when it came to creating cover art for these kind of books: computer generated images, drawings, paintings, photography…they were all in play.

Back then, I knew nothing about computers at all, but the covers of these books always piqued my curiosity. Some were awesome, some were pretty awful, but they all rocked an 80’s vibe. The personal computer boom of the 80’s led to an enormous amount of published material on everything from basic learning to programming languages. The internet hadn’t even been invented yet, but there was a sense of “living in the future” that created a kind of innocent excitement I can’t quite explain.

15 Comments

  1. Great post, thanks for sharing!

    It’s interesting to see how vivid and colourful these books are. I certainly remember the Commodore 64 Graphics and Sounds book and it amazes me how inspirational these books must have been when looking at some contemporary designers work.

  2. most of these are extremely ugly and unpleasant. but I think that adds to their mystique.

  3. This is a fine collection… I know some of this book… a long time ago… good old times…

  4. Love the feel of this.

  5. Ben

    These bring back such fond memories for me. Hours in front of the television, waiting for the cassettes to load. We didn’t get floppy drive until much later.

    This is still imprinted in my mind, however :

    Load *.* ,8,1

  6. What a great cover to the “Complete Commodore 64″ – good memories! :-)

  7. Neil

    I actually owned all those C64 books, and many more besides. Still have a couple somewhere. Sad that even though we have the old C64 it fails to work due to a fried VICII.

  8. Do you notice how that “welcome” cover works with the motion of your own blog scroll? It’s Alive!

  9. GaryG

    more than a few memories there… :) My favourite was always the ZX81 Basic manual; the scifi nerd in me loved the Bladerunner feel (even though BR wasn’t even out then…)

    http://uknet.com/gallery2/d/16341-2/076_Sinclair_ZX81_Manual.jpg

    Also interesting to think real computer graphics probably weren’t used in the vast majority of these books, not advanced enough at the time. Had to rely on an artists interpretation of what computer graphics should look like.

  10. Rob

    unfortunately Cobol is still widely used in the business world(especially banking and finance), so that one is still probably valid, unfortunately no one is learning Cobol these days….

  11. snoball

    The covers for the ZX Spectrum and it’s various add-ons were pretty badass as well.
    http://www.retrogearuk.co.uk/images/uploads/zx-spectrum-manual-3rd-ed.jpg
    http://www.speccy.org/trastero/cosas/manuales/Microdrive&Interface1Manual.jpg
    Though from the 128 onwards they went with a more conservative white-letters-on-a-black-background look.

  12. dwh

    The complete commadore 64 bookcover was obviously done by a fan of the movie Tron.

  13. Monty

    Had at least three of these books on my bookshelf until probably 1992.

  14. Some great covers there. I even have a couple of those books in my collection.

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