Monday, April 12, 2010

Still Benefiting . . . After All These Years.

Back in the glory days of print and mail advertising, around 1982 or thereabouts, I received a piece of mail selling a small set of nuts and bolts. Included were the requisite assortment of screws, nuts, bolts, washers, lock nuts and some-such, plus a plastic cabinet with drawers. I think it sold for around $15.95. I bought it thinking it might come in handy and save me a few trips to the hardware store.

Whoopee-do, I know, but hang in there while I digress to the even less interesting.

At the time, magnetic data storage on hard drives and "mag" tapes had spawned a new way to reach people at home and work, and a better way to "target" potential buyers. Almost overnight the modern mailing-list industry was born and the "renting" of names and addresses of subscribers, buyers, donors, and owners. I had probably been "targeted" as a new home buyer in my direct mail piece.

To put this in the context of other computer products: the personal computer boom was beginning. The IBM PC had landed on desktops with its floppy drives and green monochrome monitors (man they were ugly). Microsoft was selling MS/DOS 1 (boooring) and still 4 years away from their initial public offering. Apple was producing the Lisa Desktop unit (dud), but the first Mac was two years away, as was the first HP laser printer (the miracle machine). Thirty years now, into the popular electronics boom and "Direct Mail" is no longer the best way to target an audience for most companies, the web is, and web-marketing develops in different ways almost daily.

Back to my non-point. I still have the nuts and bolts set purchased in the mail and have just used about 20 of the washers for a shelf I am building. At the cost of gas today I figured it just saved me another five bucks. But the money saved is not what interests me now. It's that I am still finding use for a pretty lame nuts and bolts kit I bought in the mail almost 30 years ago. That, in a old-guy-dad kind of way, is kind of fun.


Lynn said...

I have a container like that; it is filled with sequins, beads, pearls, etc. And I used return address labels and my computer to label each tiny drawer, so that when I need to spangle a project, I can go right to the drawer I need: "red bugle beads", "black matte sequins", white opalescent seed beads", etc. I will not empty it during my lifetime, unless I live to be as old as Methuselah, or his wife.

Francis Shivone said...

Didn't Methuselah live to be a thousand or something? Surely the beads would be used by then.