Right after college I joined an IT consulting firm. Our business was based on clients. So I traveled 100% to client sites all over the country implementing a corporate financials software suite called PeopleSoft. So, during my eight years as an IT consultant I became very familiar with airplanes and flying across the country. Because I was flying nearly every week I picked up one of the first commercially available portable DVD players on the market back in 1999, the Panasonic DVD L-50. I still have it and it still works. I literally just let my nearly 4 year old son use it a few weeks ago when the family flew to Colorado.
Because I was on planes 50 weeks out of the year I also became intimately familiar with the in flight magazines. Namely, the SkyMall Catalog. It offered interesting products the likes of which you wouldn’t see unless you walked into a Brookstone in the mall. It was fascinating every month to check out what oddball items were being offered that you could order directly off the Airfone.
During my recent family trip to Colorado I thumbed through the current magazine and thought back longingly to the old catalogs from back in the day. What would they look like now? Well, I got an old copy of the catalog so let’s take a look at the treasures contained within.
The SkyMall copy I have is from mid 1996 and is stamped Southwest Airlines.
Each airline had their own version of SkyMall, the main difference being that there were a few pages in the back that sold clothing and items emblazoned with the airlines’ logo. But they all had the same awesome merch and (now) vintage technology.
So let’s get started.
This ad for a concierge company looks like the cover of a 90s video game simulator called something like Rich & Famous where you play as a wealthy CEO. I imagine it’s a game like Aerobiz.
There are several things that are guaranteed and written into the laws of nature. Death, of course. Taxes. And companies will never stop trying to develop the “perfect” exercise machine. And they’ll all make you look equally ridiculous when you use them (I’m looking at you, Health Rider).
Another guaranteed truth. Companies will always try to design new “gimmick” sunglasses that vaguely perform some “new, cool” function but they look like rejected props from a DEVO video. Or any 60s movie that features people from the future.
This pop up hot dog cooker/bun warmer is STILL sold in SkyMall magazine today. With nearly the exact same picture. Either it’s a best seller or they sold out 20 years ago and just forgot that it was still in the catalog.