Digi-Paint: Personal Computers in Color
Although both images and text are used to represent what Digi-Paint offers in this advertisement found in Amazing Computer Magazine’s August 1987 issue, the images are the first thing that draw a reader’s attention. Imagery is especially necessary for this product since it is meant to be used for producing digital images, so the collection of images in this advertisement showcases the artwork and designs that can be created with Digi-Paint. These images are colorful and eye-catching, representing the creative potential of the digital painting, graphic design, and photo effects that can be accomplished using Digi-Paint. The goal of the images chosen is to display the full range of color and vibrancy that Digi-Paint offers, as the software’s main purpose is to allow users to create images with better color resolution than previously possible on their personal computer.
The language used is more formal than colloquial, largely due to the number of technical features listed. Based on the target audience of the magazine this article is featured in, the advertisement targets a more tech-savvy and knowledgeable audience of people who are interested in getting the most out of their Amiga computers. This advertisement associates personal computers and the services that come with them as enablers of creativity, and software is depicted as a way to get the most out of a computer, with lines like, “finally realize the potential of your Amiga with Digi-Paint’s advanced features.” Digi-Paint is framed as a multi-purpose program, not confined to commercial or personal use alone. In the collection of images in the advertisement, there is a professional-looking TIME magazine cover design in the midst of whimsical drawings and surreal art.
The feature list implicitly defines the limitations of the program – for instance, Digi-Paint can do better than the previous limit of 32 colors, but it cannot work with more than 4096 colors simultaneously. Other technical limits are mentioned in the text as well, such as maximum resolutions of image processing. Similarly, Digi-Paint is designed only for users of the Amiga personal computer and its operating system.
The Amiga was a personal computer from Commodore released in 1985 with “leading-edge color graphics features” that was “designed for home and graphics-oriented business use,” as explained in an August 1985 article from Computerworld. The machine could handle a palette of 4096 colors, enabling software developers to create products such as Digi-Paint that could harness this expanded color palette. Amiga machines allowed a maximum resolution of 640 by 400 pixels, although not all software or monitors could take advantage of this – Digi-Paint could only produce images with a maximum resolution of 320 by 200 pixels or 320 by 400 pixels according to the advertisement in Amazing Computer Magazine. Such features and other features that were planned as of 1985 created a vision of a future where developers would be able to “intertwine such standard features as four-channel audio, digitized images, animation, video synchronization and a palette of [more than] 4,000 colors” (Computerworld) using Commodore’s Amiga computer.
One thing that strikes me the most about these advertisements and articles is the cost of personal computers and their programs. For instance, a new Amiga in 1985 was sold for $1,295 without an RGB monitor, and Digi-Paint in 1987 was sold for “only” $59.95. These prices are comparable to those of relatively high-end personal computers and software today, but after adjusting for inflation it becomes apparent that access to basic personal computing was much more expensive than the advanced devices we have today, not to mention the increased power of the modern Internet compared to what could be done in the 1980s. This contributed to the exclusion of groups of people who often could not afford such systems. Yet, there were enough people in the 1980s adopting these machines to warrant multiple magazines covering new versions of computers and their software products. I think that a likely reason for the excitement surrounding personal computers at this time was how they were represented as the new frontier of technology, pushing the boundaries of what people could create digitally, which is the notion that advertisements such as the one for Digi-Paint were trying to promote and that would eventually lead to the surge of people later embracing the Internet.
(August 5, 1985). Graphics-oriented Amiga debuts. Computerworld. https://advance-lexis-com.proxy1.library.jhu.edu/api/document?collection=news&id=urn:contentItem:3S8G-G810-000C-T0M0-00000-00&context=1516831.
(August, 1987). Only Digi-Paint Can Do All This. Amazing Computer Magazine. https://archive.org/details/amazing-computing-magazine-1987-08/page/n1/mode/2up?view=theater