Pre Millenium SPARC Banner Ads

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - SPARC Product Directory

I'm a bit of a history nut and whenever I'm reading my 100+ year old copies of the Strand Magazine , in which Sherlock Holmes made his first appearance, I confess that often I'm just as entertained and intrigued by the ads from that time, as by the editorial. Pills and potions which promise miracle cures... Handy gadgets which save you hours of time.... I suppose the reason that many of these products aren't around any more is that the claims were perhaps a bit too spurious. But they offered hope in an age where your lawyers didn't have to prove everything you said in your ads.

As an entertainment, and perhaps inspiration to future chroniclers of the Sun server market, I thought it might be interesting to collect here some banner ads which appeared in our web publication before January 1, 2000.

Although we started selling selling web advertising in 1996, I wasn't a great fan of banner ads in those days. So it wasn't till 1998 I relented to the pressure to let them appear on the SPARC Product Directory web site.


EIS banner ad This was one of the first banner ads we ran in 1998 from EIS. They later changed their name to StarBox Netsystems, and then kind of disappeared.

This was the 2nd banner ad we ran in 1998.

In 1998 (and before) Themis were focused on the embedded SPARC market, and they still are today.

UK Sun VARs were also running banner ads in 1998. This company was later acquired by a company called Torex Services.

Antares was the first manufacturer of 3rd party SBus cards.


In 1999, banner ads didn't look much different. Then, as now, advertisers sometimes got the size slightly wrong.

In 1999, SPARC workstations were still hot products.

Storage products too, were starting to get hot. Interesting to see how prices have changed.

Partnerships have always been important in the Sun market.

SI banner oct 1999 SPARC International ran this banner in October 1999.

The first SPARC systems in 1987 had been VME based. This ad was targeting owners of legacy systems who wanted to upgrade to faster processors.

This company was acquired by Verio.

Then, as now, the environment was a good thing to put into an ad. Cycle was acquired by Tapdole. Cycle's founder later did a management buyout.

Some Sun VARs are older than Sun itself.

legacy Tatung banner from the SPD in 1999 Tatung started its involvement with SPARC technology in 1988 and actively promoted its SPARC workstations and servers upto December 2001.

July 1999 banner CCNY CCNY was an advertiser of ours for many years. Price and service have always been important in the Sun market.

Banner ads still work in 2012!

To see live example see my main site
storage search banner since 1998 my main site has been
. FAQs for connected IT marketers Marketing Views is a list of useful online marketing tips and articles - which I created to help my enterprise marketing customers in 1996
SSD ad - click for more info
SSD news
SSD history
SPARC history
Marketing Views
SPARC Product Directory
Lessons for Banner Ad Designers?
Students of web marketing can learn a lot by stepping back from the immediate process of trying to get leads and business in internet time.

If you click on the banner ads (shown on the left) they won't take you anywhere, because I removed the links, and because many of the web sites no longer exist.

But what can you learn about the companies and products?

A good banner ad will give you information about how to contact the company even before you click. In many cases it may already be a company you know from previous advertising or because you are already a customer.

If the banner ad doesn't give you a picture of what is happening with that company, or their advertised promotion, then the link to the web site is irrelevant. There's a lot more to banner ads than the click.
  • Customers Search Differently - customers (who want to find suppliers and buy stuff) search differently to marketers (who want to promote their companies and sell stuff). That's why most search marketing misses the best targets.
  • What's a Good Click Rate for a Banner Ad? - what you learn from testing banner ads - often results in you having to change the way you talk about your company in other places... your web site, your PR. Leaving this important task in the hands of graphics designers is lunacy. ...Later:- in 2010 - I updated this popular article to compare how banners compare to Google ads.
  • Think of Web Ads as Signposts - they can lead the right people to your destination. But give them a credible message so that the brain follows the mouse click for sound business reasons. Ideally the ad should also signal to the wrong type of customer they can filter themselves out at this point and not waste their time and yours by following this path.
  • Rethinking the Banner Ad - remember it's a guaranteed communication and doesn't have to be an ad. There are 2 sets of viewers who see you banner ad, and you should cater for both. The most important are the 94% to 99.5% who are going to see the banner, but not click on it (at that moment in time). What impression are they left with after seeing the banner?
  • Press Release Errors I see every day - as an editor - I have to disregard zillions of press releases, which vendors have paid good money to their agencies to write and distribute. Here's why.