Disclaimer: The images on this page are from the "Electronics Boutique 1996 Spring CD". This was a promotional CD catalog given out at Electronics Boutique & Waldensoftware stores in early 1996. The images are only 256 color because that was the depth of the source files (keep in mind this was 1996).
PC Accessories (Page 1)
When I started working at Electronics Boutique in 1992 the product mix was split roughly even between "useful stuff" and "fun stuff". By 1996 the company took a sharp turn towards the "fun stuff" direction. Go into an EBGames today and I doubt you'll find anything other than games. I can't fault them for going that direction. Anyway, back then we sold all the various PC accessories and junk you'd find at an office store today. The most interesting thing in this section are the ludicrous hardware prices. If you want to understand the impact of Chinese industrialization, especially in the technology manufacturing arena, look no further.
's a crappy little CD holder, next...
Hey, it's a crappy little 3.5" disk holder, next../
Wow, a 3.5" disk box, next...
OK, enough of the disk boxes, next...
Alright, now here's the good stuff.A 25-pack of 3.5" disks for $18.99. As of the time of this writing you can get a 1gb USB flash drive for slightly less.
For the flight-sim geek it's the CH Pedals for $58.99. In the "gallery of annoying customers" there's a big space reserved for the dude that just has to tell you about the ultra-realistic flight-sim console he has at home. Too poor for flying lessons yet just enough money and time to create a cockpit in their den.
Now we enter the realm of insane prices. What's that? You though $60 for pedals was insane? How about $119.99 for the Gravis Grip Fighting Machine? It was an 8-port adapter for the PC. Since most PCs are sitting on a desk and not in the den (in 1996 at least) there wasn't much demand for something like this.
Here we have the Teac Internal IDE 6X CD-ROM Drive for $244.99. This is a only a reader, not a writer. Last time I ordered hardware a 6X DVD writer went for ~$30. For the record, the prices at Electronics Boutique/Waldensoftware weren't just unusually high. This is pretty much what hardware went for in 1996.
There was no Google in 1996, Webcrawler was around but mostly returned links to pr0n. Early web surfers had to settle for things like the Internet Yellow Pages. After leaving Electronics Boutique/Waldensoftware to go back to college I worked as the night-manager for a Super Crown bookstore. They carried even more varieties of books like this.
The companion to the Internet Yellow Pages is the World Wide Web Yellow Pages. It contains a CD of "hyperlinks" that work with something called "Mosaic".
Yeah, for a few short years Netscape the dominant web browser. Although simple to use I guess some needed Netscape and the World Wide Web for Dummies. Go into any used bookstore and you should be able to find this for $1.
The Sportster High Speed Modem retailed for a whopping $229.99. Now I literally couldn't give one of these away.
If you didn't want to crack open your PC, and wanted to save $30, there was the Cardinal 28,000 bps External Modem for $194.99.
At $154.99 the Best Data 28,000 bps Internal Modem was the only one we sold with any degree of frequency. Of course for every one we sold we were guaranteed a call that night for support. I'm not kidding when I say customers somehow expected the dude making nothing at the store to be able to talk them through installing a modem. Back in the day the concept of "plug and play" didn't live up to the expectations. Chances are you'd have to dork with some IRQ/DMA settings to get new hardware to work.
I use the modern equivalent of the Logitech TrackMan Marble only for $90 less than the price of the original.