Markline Catalog: Holodeck workout

The Amazing ’80s Technology Gems of the Markline Catalog

A few months ago one of my coworkers at Redfin unearthed a long-lost treasure lurking in his garage: The Fall 1983 Markline Catalog. This amazing book contains a cornucopia of cutting edge technology from the early 1980s. I was able to borrow the catalog for a day to take it home and scan the entire thing in glorious high resolution.

Here are just a few of the amazing ’80s tech gems in the Markline catalog…

Credit Card Calculator

If you like calculators, Markline has you covered. Is it a credit card, or is it a calculator?!? Who can say?!?
Markline Catalog: credit card calculator

Wristwatch Calculator

Or maybe you don’t carry a wallet? No problem, strap a calculator to your wrist!
Markline Catalog: wristwatch calculator

Checkbook Calculator

Or perhaps you’d prefer not to flaunt your calculating prowess to the world… how about a calculator in your checkbook?
Markline Catalog: checkbook calculator

Printing Calculator

Maybe you need a calculator that can print tiny color charts? NO PROBLEM!
Markline Catalog: printing calculator

Mr. Disc

Sometimes after a hard day of calculating, you need to take a break. Behold: Mr. Disc!
Markline Catalog: Mr. Disc

Holodeck Workout

Gotta keep in shape, ’80s style, in the holodeck!
Markline Catalog: Holodeck workout

So Much More

The fun goes on and on and on… for over 40 pages. Just a few more examples:

  • Take A Look Into The Future With Casio’s Large Screen Pocket-Sized LCD TV!
  • The Miracle of Remote Control—In A Watch.
  • Any Watch Can Tell Time… Only The Casio TS1000 Can Give You The Temperature Too!
  • Revolutionary Storage Idea For All Your Tapes.
  • Koala Makes Your Graphic Dreams Come True With The Friendliest Innovation In Personal Computing.
  • The Phone Of The Future Is Here Today.
  • How Do You Buy A ColecoVision Virtually For Free?
  • At Last A Rechargeable, Voice Activated Microcassette Recorder.

At last!

Where’s My Fall 2013 Markline Catalog?

When this was brought into the office, another of my coworkers tried calling the toll-free ordering phone numbers mentioned throughout the Markline catalog. Unfortunately, one number was disconnected and the other went to some other company who had never heard of Markline.

So what happened to Markline? I dug around online a bit and was able to find this article, published about 10 years after this particular catalog hit the presses.

Catalog Age | October 1993: Markline ‘disappears.’ (Markline International goes out of business)

WEYMOUNT, MA—By all indications, gifts cataloger Markline International is out of business. Markline’s phone lines are either out of order or they go unanswered. Sources close to the company say it has ceased doing business, and “disappeared off the face of the earth,” according to founder and former owner Herb Klein. Klein still runs a business called Markline Business Products in Weymouth, MA, where Markline International had been based.

Gene Bellotti, whose direct marketing agency Harper Bellotti produced catalogs for Markline, says owner Robert D. Montague has “stopped mailing [the catalog], and he’s trying to sell it.”

Sad times.

But fear not! You can still enjoy the entire Fall 1983 Markline Catalog in convenient pdf format by downloading below or simply browsing the embedded version below.

January 2015 Update
I had the good fortune this month to receive the following email, reproduced with permission of the sender.

My daughter found your posting of the Markline catalog online. I was the vice-president of catalog planning (77-85) which included merchandising the catalog. I left the company before they were sold.

It probably was the most fun job I had during my career. Finding new and unusual items. In fact, we introduced the Sony Walkman in the U.S. We imported it from Hong Kong because Sony U.S. didn’t think it would be a hit. They changed their mind after they saw how many we sold. I’ve kept several different catalogs including the one you posted.

Thanks for the memories,


The Incredible Shrinking PAX Medals

A few weeks ago I attended my eighth consecutive PAX Prime. While there are many things to love about PAX, one of my personal favorites has become the PAX medals. All weekend long there are various tournaments and contests you can participate in to win a medal.

I have won a PAX medal at each of the last three PAX Prime events that I have had the pleasure of attending. In 2011 I got one for placing second in a Pac-Man Championship Edition DX tournament. In 2012 I won one for having the second-best pitch at the Pitch Your Game Idea panel. This year I won a high score contest for the Super Nintendo game Tin Star, using the SuperScope.

PAX Medals: 2011, 2012, 2013

As I was enjoying my PAX medals, I noticed something odd. Each year, the PAX medals are getting slightly smaller.

Time to break out some measuring tools.

PAX Medals: Ribbon Length

First up, length of the ribbons:

Ribbon Length Comparison of PAX Medals: 2011, 2012, 2013

That’s 4cm of ribbon loss in just two years. At this rate, PAX medals will be a 15cm choker by 2020.

PAX Medals: Medal Height

Let’s check the height.

Height Comparison of PAX Medals: 2011, 2012, 2013

The shrinkage of the medals is even more dramatic than the ribbon shrinkage. If it keeps up at the same rate they’ll disappear completely by 2020.

PAX Medals: Mass

Finally, let’s weigh these suckers on my kitchen scale.

Mass Comparison of PAX Medals: 2011, 2012, 2013

The loss of mass is the most extreme, with an average loss of 3.5g per year putting the medals on a path to vanish entirely by 2018. Also, apparently PAX medals are not very nutritious.

PAX Medals: Shrinkage Summary

Here’s a summary of my findings:

Year Length Height Mass
2011 33.0cm 0.76″ 25g
2012 30.5cm 0.66″ 20g
2013 29.0cm 0.58″ 18g

There is one category in which PAX medals are getting measurably better: back-side engraving. The 2011 medal just had a generic number. The 2012 medal still had the number, but they added a bit about what the medal was for. In 2013 the number was dropped entirely and the font got a sweet upgrade.

Back of PAX Medals: 2011, 2012, 2013

Anyway, this is all apparently interesting enough for me to write a 333-word blog post, but despite the shrinkage, I still enjoy my PAX medals.

Horse Head: Three-Time PAX Medal Winner!

Video Games + Home Improvement = Porch Launch

In honor of the launch home improvement network Porch (my employer), I created this Internet-meme-ish slideshow that ties together video games and home improvement.

Enjoy… OR ELSE.

[slideshare id=26285361&doc=11-classic-video-games-130917164657-phpapp01]

P.S. – I also posted it to BuzzFeed, if you’re more into reading these kinds of things in a flat format.

“Double Stuf” Oreos Actually Only “1.89x Stuf”

Here’s another great story about data, this time on a small scale.

Dan Anderson is a high school math teacher. As part of a class exercise, he had his kids measure the “stuf” content of regular Oreo cookies, “Double Stuf” Oreo cookies, and “Mega Stuf” Oreo cookies.

According to his kids’ calculations, the “Double Stuf” Oreos contained 1.86x as much filling as regular Oreos. Oops.

After his original blog post blew up on the internet, Dan did a more extensive experiment of his own and came up with similar results: “Double Stuf” Oreos contained just 1.89x as much filling as regular Oreos.

The experiments got quite a bit of attention online, and even drew an official response from Nabisco, as covered by ABC News:

A spokeswoman for Nabisco told the company’s Double Stuf Oreos are made to have double the creme filling as the original Oreos.

“While I’m not familiar with what was done in the classroom setting, I can confirm for you that our recipe for the Oreo Double Stuf Cookie has double the Stuf, or creme filling, when compared with our base, or original Oreo cookie,” the spokeswoman said.

And yet… That’s not what the data actually shows.

Data-driven observations: 1
Nabisco: 0

via BoingBoing