A Blog by Cabel Sasser

The DAK Catalog

The Paper Life-Changer

It’s unbelievable.

When I was little, my favorite thing to read was the DAK Catalog. (Yes, I was an interesting kid.) I’d pore over them, page by page, usually at the dinner table, dreaming the technology inside between bites of Shake ‘n Bake.

Drew Alan Kaplan — DAK — felt like your personal connection to a world of overseas, cutting-edge technology, selling the 80’s to you every month, via direct mail.

Sure, the products were, or at least looked, amazing. But the true star was the catalog itself. Drew wrote every word of every page. Or was that part of the pitch? It doesn’t matter. He sold goods like his life depended on it.

Nearly every product got a full page. The photos were amazing. His copy always clever and concise. The strange, compelling headlines. The “$20,000 challenge” to a radar detector competitor. The electronics that were bargains because of “printing errors” or “missing switches”. You wanted to read it all.

I learned a lot from DAK. So I wanted to share it with you.

World’s Cheapest Time Machine

These catalogs are even more fun in 2012. Fax machines. Shredders. Graphic equalizers. So many phones. So much has changed in a short period of time. We’ve watched it happen.

But I discovered a shocking hole in the internet: nobody had these catalogs online that I could find. So I started buying them on eBay — about one shows up a year, and I am the only person who ever bids. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person who loved these pages. I might be. That’s why I scanned them all for you.

There’s something in here for everyone. If you’re a designer, you’ll appreciate the amazing product photography and layouts. If you’re a technologist, you’ll love seeing how far we’ve come. If you’re a writer, you’ll revel in the crisp copy. If you’re a humorist, you’ll laugh at the bear phone.

I hope you enjoy these catalogs as much as I did, and still do.

Click on any cover to download a PDF of that catalog (about 50MB).

(What happened to DAK? After some troubles with Tokai Bank, the money, and the catalog, went away. His amazing Y2K-special website tried to capture the essence of the catalog but just wasn’t the same. He declined my requests for an interview.)

If you have any DAK catalogs lying around, let me know and I’ll add them here!

Leave a Reply

  1. therontrowbridge

    I remember these! I especially lusted after the graphic equalizers, and wanted the portable EQ unit they had for Walkmen. Totally forgot about it until I saw this post.

    1. frankie c

      i bought the double cassette tape deck that played recorded and dubed,had two mike inputs and was a gas to own i made tapes that my daughter sang along to the tape that was playing on the left and recorded the duet on the right,she 7 years old,now 44 and we laugh like crazy,bertie higgins ,madonna etc. had so much fun!

    2. JT

      I had that portable EQ in high school with my Walkman. I thought I was the sh*t with that setup.
      I learned about digital audio and compact discs from DAK catalogs.

  2. Jot Kali

    My favourite old catalogs are the legendary Bridgestone Bicycle catalogs. Each was beautifully laid out, and had articles on how you didn’t have to buy Bridgestone bicycles by maintaining your own existing bike. It also reverse sold, trying to convince you why their basic bikes were good enough, but if you had to here is why you might want to upgrade to the next model. I highly recommend looking the catalogs up one day and reading them at your leisure.

    1. Patrick Stewart

      Those catalogs sure bring back electronic memories of the 80’s. I purchased quite a number of gadgets from DAK and was never disappointed. Including many dozens of cassette tapes. Loved reading Drew’s catalogs and buying his products.

  3. Bromo

    I know another young boy who is fascinated by LGB train catalogs and, in fact, reads them while he eats. The acorn falleth.

  4. Eric Peacock

    This is awesome! I totally used to absorb the DAK catalog as a kid. As far as I know my family never bought anything from it, but every time I got my hands on one I read it over and over hoping one day I’d be able to get that equalizer, or whatever.

    What’s even more intriguing to me is that no DAK content was online till now. That seems like it just shouldn’t be possible, but there really is a lot of unarchived media out there yet to be posted online. Years ago I found that I had the only surviving digital copy of a racy STNG parody (Cinepak!) when the creator emailed me about it — see my antiquated entry at if you’re curious. Now that has been siphoned off my site onto the usual spam-mirror sites and at least one YouTube account.

  5. Kohan Ikin (@syneryder)

    Each of these magazine cover photos look like they should be the cover of a new Boards Of Canada album.

  6. Scott E

    Oh boy do I remember those catalogs (glad to accidentally stumble on the blog, by the way!). To this day, I remember him writing about why he hated a certain auto insurance company because, I think, of their stance on radar-detectors (this was before the lizard-like mascot made EVERYONE hate them). When I became old enough to drive and choose an insurance company, Drew’s back-page rambling made a real impression.

  7. davidkim

    Hi, Mr.Cabel,
    Can i ask you a question?
    Is this comment form designed by yourself or some sort of plugin?
    This comment form is awesome!

    Marry christmas & happy new year!

  8. Dick

    I bought the blank DAK cassette tapes. As I remember they were cheap but lasted as long as any other.

  9. Andrew S

    I read all of them and never bought a thing from DAK (after all, it’s weird when kids call up to order something using their parent’s CC).

    Remember the days when we read garbage like that because we didn’t have the internet? 🙂

  10. RKflorida

    I purchased quite a bit from DAK. Loved his catalogs. I never got hurt buying from him.

  11. Jim

    SWEET!!! Loves the DAK!!!

  12. Case

    Loved that catalog… I had that EQ *and* those speakers !
    DAK catalog was to my teenage years like the Sears Wishbook was to the little grommet days.
    I used to drive out to their warehouse store in the west valley all the time, that was my candy store 😉
    Thanks for the post and bringing up some good memories.

  13. Don Davies

    Thanks so much for posting these. They brought me right back. When I was a teenager, I would read it all cover to cover and marvel at all the cool stuff. I don’t think I ever bought anything from Drew though. Wonder what he’s up to these days.

    Thanks again. I’m so glad I found your website.

  14. Ted M. Young

    Weird, I was just thinking about the DAK catalogs the other day. I remember poring over them in the same way. I’m sure me and my friend growing up (we used to read the catalogs with each other) spent hundreds of hard-earned/saved dollars on stuff from that catalog (the “Sound Barrier Streaker” was my first CD player). sigh. I bet I still have some of the catalogs buried in my stuff at my parents (if they haven’t thrown them out).

  15. fbueller

    You’re forgetting about the awesome DAK store in the valley. They had returns, scratch n’ dents, etc. there for even cheaper than their catalog. We used to make pilgrimages out there from UCLA to buy up cheap gizmos. I still have the DAK breadmaker, and it’s gone up in price since then because it’s a collectible!

  16. adam gordon

    This is awesome , thanks for creating this post and for all the catalogs. I too loved these as a kid . Read them over and over. My dad purchased lots of stuff from them speakers, phone, more phones and blank cassettes for sure . This really took me back !

  17. erik krieger

    i bought a pair of speakers and an equalizer from DAK, and got many years of enjoyment out of them. Always loved the catalogs as well.

  18. justMike

    As a young, emerging geek, I loooved the DAK catalogs. I spent my paltry teen dollars very carefully, and DAK never ceased to thrill me with their products and enrage me with their idiosyncrasies (like the radar detector that pegged at 50% strength whenever the car’s interior temp approached 74deg).

    Drew was (and will always remain in my heart) The Man!

  19. aardvarks

    Dubbed more than a few cassettes on the Emerson boom box you pictured at the top…loved that thing. Probably the only purchase I (my mom) ever made, but I read the catalogs cover to cover.

  20. Robert J. Masiello

    I remember the DAK catalog! In fact I bought the bread machine he advertised! I don’t know about the other products but the bread machine was awesome! I bought it in the early 90’s and used it often until it finally died on me just a few years ago. Yes, it lasted almost 30 years! I actually still use the bread machine recipe booklets with my new Japanese bread machine. (Sorry Drew!) I enjoy how he personally wrote his stories about using the bread machine with his family. Great memories!

    1. Jeffrey krupke

      Can find them at thrift stores I found 3 of them lately.

  21. Jeffrey krupke

    I just picked up a DAK bread maker from a thrift store. I bought the first one in the 80s for my mom as she would spend hours making bread on the weekends. And it lasted forever. I hope the used one I picked up is as good as I remember.

  22. Newman

    I bought a DAK breadmaker in 1990 and it still works fine. Parts are somewhat hard to find though. I also have 2 breadmaking catalogs from DAK. The machine is the one with the glass dome, get to watch the bread being made.

  23. zoltan43

    Awesome!! Thank you so much for these memories. I have 2 DAK catalogs I’ve managed to hang on to over the years. I also collected my other favorite catalogs from the same period; The Sharper Image. I’d read both front to back and completely loose track of time. I’m STILL using my BSR EQ 5000! Do they EVER break?! Ah the good ol’ days . . .

  24. Keith Edwards

    I bought an 18″ passive sub-woofer from a 1990’s DAK catalog and am still thumping to this day! Loved the DAK catalogs!

  25. Kent Wilke

    2022 and still drawing views! I was trying to remember the model number of a Sansui receiver I bought from DAK in the 80’s and your site solved the mystery! The Z-9000x. I may still have a DAK catalog or two lost in the shuffle that you do not have and if I find them I will be sure to send you an electronic copy. Those catalogs still have the most amazing ad copy of any I recall reading. Thanks for making these available!

  26. Howard

    I used to get those catalogs every few months and also loved reading the descriptions of his electronic audio products. He has a way of making the experience of listening to a CD set of Classical music come alive, enjoying the natural timber of the flutes and oboes, etc. And before the internet became widely used there was his short wave radio and being able to pick up broadcasts from other countries. With the bread maker machine I could almost smell fresh baked bread varieties. A greater variety of products than The Sharper Image with palpable enthusiasm in every issue.

  27. Patrick Stewart

    Here is a link to one of the catalogs
    Hope it opens for you. A trip down memory lane. I purchased a few items from this particular catalog.

  28. Steven Shore

    I still have (and use) quite a few of his bread recipe booklets. I’m fact, I just used one for my new Cuisinart bread maker. Its recipes don’t work as well.

    1. Tim

      Did you ever find the DAK catalog that advertised the Gelatissimo?

      1. Steven

        Hi Tim,

        I don’t have any old catalogs, with the exception of the Breadmaker ads with recipes. I saved all the recipe books when I moved a few times.

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