Google uncovers Asimov's switch to the TRS-80

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

Pity the poor print magazine. So many have been killed off lately that there's even a death pool site devoted to which will die next. But at least yesterday's magazines—which include a ton of sci-fi pop culture—will live forever, thanks to Google's new digitized newsstand.

And one of the coolest things we uncovered thanks to the company's latest project of scanning entire magazine back issues, ads and all, is the moment when science fiction Grand Master Isaac Asimov finally left his typewriters behind and entered the computer age.

An article we dug up from the June 18, 1982 issue of InfoWorld tells how Radio Shack converted Asimov "by leaving a TRS-80 Model II on his doorstep."

"I may be a coward," Asimov said. "But if you force me, I can use it."

Asimov ended up becoming a pitchman for the product, even appearing in an ad we found in the September 1982 issue of Kiplinger's.

When asked during the ad shoot how close that computer came to the one he described in the first volume of his Foundation triology, Asimov repled "This is it."

The biggest sign of how far we've come in the 27 years since? In the ad, Asimov says that getting 16K in memory for $98 less than the previous year was like "like having the cosmos at your fingertips."