Computer Store Photo Dump: Celebs at CompUSA

I’m not actually sure where any of these pictures originally came from on the web and I can’t find them anymore. So for the sake of preserving important computer history, here are photos of famous people at CompUSA. If you would like more, here’s some pictures from Getty Images of Bill Gates signing copies of Windows 95 and a couple of Steve Ballmer. Depending on your definition of famous, here’s some of Richard Garriott and Warren Spector at Egghead Software. So uhhhhh, enjoy!

picture of Emmanual Lewis giving a thumbs up next to an employee
Emmanual Lewis from the show Webster
Andre 3000 standing next to an employee at the store.
Andre 3000 from Outkast
Steven Seagal shaking hands with an employee
Steven Seagal, actor and Russian propoganda tool

Computer Store Photo Dump: Computer City in Hawaii

Sometimes between the time when I posted this to my computer store social media account a few years ago and now, most of the archives for this newspaper went down so I thought I would repost the Wayback Machine link for the Star Bulletin reporting in 1998 that the Computer City stores in its Waikele and Kakaako locations closed pending a $275 million acquisition by CompUSA. I just realized now that this lines up with when my local Computer City in Northville, Michigan had closed after only being open for two years. From browsing Wikipedia, it sounds like CompUSA had no interest in keeping the Computer City brand and either closed the stores (mine was fairly close to a CompUSA) or converted them to CompUSA stores.

a man and woman pushing boxes on a cart out of a Computer City store
From the Star-Bulletin: “Dr. Doug Johnson of Kaimuki is assisted by Computer City
associate Nancy Tapia, while he carts off the very last computer
system sold at Computer City’s Victoria Ward store. The store
is now closed, making way for Pier 1 Imports.

I also came across this article about a Computer City opening.

Sales associates John Powell, left, talks with Edmund Chu and his brother, Richard Chu, about Apple computers in the new Computer City store on Auahi Street, across from Ward Centre in Kakaako.
Photo by Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin

Computer Store Photo Dump: State Street Computer

Here is a series of ads for a place called State Street Computer in Ann Arbor, Michigan showing the initial excitement for the Amiga, ads selling the computer, and then the final ad for the store showing their liquidation sale. I don’t have dates for all the ads because I saved these images a while ago and didn’t take notes then, but I can guess that it’s roughly from the mid 80’s to the very late 80’s or very early 90’s. These images came from looking through local newspapers and also from the Ann Arbor District Library website.

There’s a few other ads that I found as well. I’m guessing the freedom of the press one is aimed at college students looking to start their own zines or newspapers since this was right next to the University of Michigan.

Unfortunately I cannot find any images of the actual store. I looked up the location of the store on Google Maps and it would have been a high traffic spot near the University of Michigan.

Google Street Screenshot from 2011 showing the Nickels Arcade area of downtown Ann Arbor

If you have any photos of the store, I would love to see them posted somewhere.


Egghead Software

A weird but fun thing I like to do is post photos of old computer stores on Cohost and Mastodon, which means that I have found a ton of random things over the last couple of years. I’m going to start posting more organized collections here in case something happens to either place, since that account is now the only source of some photos after the sources have gone down (see my CompUSA post here).

One I’ve always loved finding more photos and documents of has been Egghead Software. If you’re feeling nostalgic for computers in the early 90’s, or specifically the Egghead Software store chain, check out their quarterly reports that have been archived here. For some reason it’s a chain that doesn’t have a ton of photos like other computer stores do, so it was fun finding these. I also thought it was interesting reading the reports in the later years and watching the slow decline they were going through.

My other favorite source of photos of Egghead Software is obviously this set of photos taken of Warren Spector and Richard Garriott to promote games by Origin.

photo of Richard Garriott in a store holding a copy of Ultima: Martian Dreams

I’ve also found a lot of random photos of now closed computer stores by checking out Facebook groups that former employees post in. I’ve only gone in public groups but there’s been a lot of interesting things that employees kept from the store like these items. Unfortunately the groups seem to randomly disappear, probably from Facebook constantly making changes, so there’s always a feeling I have to grab the photos before they’re gone forever.

A Tribute to the CompUSA in Novi, Michigan

One of the goofier things I do on social media is run an account called Computer Store Visuals. It is an account where I post pictures of computer stores, mostly old ones, that I’ve found on the internet and have saved. I suppose I could make some sort of intellectual explanation why I do it, like I’m trying to preserve a part of computer history that’s disappearing. I guess that’s maybe true, but I mostly do it just because I like to look at old computer stuff. I don’t think things were better back then (they weren’t), but I do have fond memories of going into my local computer stores and picking up games and I have fun doing it so why not. It’s a fun excuse to post goofy pictures too. Once active and surprisingly popular on Twitter, I’ve moved it to Cohost and Mastodon after Twitter was purchased by Elon Musk and instantly became less usable. 

One of the stores I had a fascination with was my local CompUSA in Novi, Michigan. It was where I went to get most of my games from the beginning of the 90s until it closed in 2007. There weren’t many photos of it that I could find online except some posted in a Facebook group for employees from this store.  I saw that the Facebook group is now gone, motivating me to write one of the silliest things that will be on the website. Here is a tribute to the CompUSA in Novi, Michigan and possibly the only existing photos of this store online.

My first memories of the store are of seeing the game Superhero League of Hoboken being demoed on one of the computers when you entered, looking at the shelves of games, a demo of Prince of Persia 2 playing on a monitor, and a customer asking an employee if they had Leisure Suit Larry. It was also where I first saw games like Doom and picked up most of my adventure game collection. Whenever we went here, my dad would usually walk off to look at the computer magazines and books that were located at a section to the immediate right when you walked in, while I would run over to the computer game section on the left, try whatever game was being demoed that day, and then check out the aisles of games. The store also featured its own Edutainment area that had computers loaded with educational software and games for kids.

This was also the only time I ever tried the infamous Zelda games for the Philips CD-i, since this was the only store chain that seemed foolish enough to stock them and even have a demo station to play the games. Even at the time I didn’t enjoy them and was baffled by how a Zelda game could be so bad.

The store itself was in a shopping center called the Novi Town Center which also featured a Borders bookstore and Egghead Software, making it a nerd shopping utopia for me for most of the 90s.

For the last five years of the store, it was clear to even teenage me that the store was struggling. The industry had changed a lot and sales of boxed computer games weren’t as great in the early to mid 00s, even before Steam came along. CompUSA also waited too long to push their online store and had tried to pivot to being more like Best Buy, but with little success. The chain eventually closed in the late 00s and computer retail stores mostly don’t exist in the United States except for Micro Center and some smaller stores.

But I still have a lot of fond memories going there to pick up computer games and trying out the latest software at their demo stations. As promised, here are the only images I could find of the store. If you have any of the Novi, Michigan CompUSA, or the Borders and Egghead Software that I mentioned in the article, I would love to see them. If you would like to see more pictures of computer stores, I also post on Cohost and Mastodon.

This first batch is a set of photos from a Halloween party and people working at the store during Halloween.

These next two photos are of an employee that would intentionally make a mess while eating powdered donuts and apparently also walked around the store like this and would offer some to customers.

I have no context for the rest of these photos and they’re the only other ones I could find for this store.