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How to get a digital hairdo preview in 1988

In the pre-Snapchat era, it probably seemed pretty high-tech to the viewers watching at home.

'At the touch of an electronic pen, you can experiment with different styles'

Using a computer to look for a new look

34 years ago
Duration 1:20
A computer program that lets you see what a new haircut could look like.

In the pre-Snapchat era, it probably seemed pretty high-tech to the viewers watching at home.

In 1988, a Montreal beauty salon was using a computer program to show clients what a new 'do would look like on their own head.

"At the touch of an electronic pen, you can experiment with different styles and colours," the CBC's Gisele Seto reported, in a report that aired on Midday in September of that year. 

Customers had a photo taken at the start so they could compare their current hair with their future self. The cost was $40 — the equivalent of just over $75 in 2020, according to the Bank of Canada's online inflation calculator.

'You're less afraid'

A Montreal beauty salon was using a computer program in 1988 that let customers get a sense of what they would look like with a different hairdo. (Midday/CBC Archives)

Hairstylist Denis Parent said the computerized preview helped give customers the confidence to consider a change in their look.

"You're less afraid to talk with the hairdresser ... because sometimes you want a change, but you're always scared," he told CBC.

In just five months, Seto said, more than 1,000 customers had tried the program out at Donald Proulx's salon — the only place in the city with the service at that time, according to Seto.

"Hairdressers here say it is so successful, they're even looking into expanding the concept and eventually setting up a computer system that will help you co-ordinate fashion with different hairstyles and colours," Seto said.

Hairstylist Denis Parent believed customers could be more confident to make a change in hairstyle if they could see a preview of it first. (Midday/CBC Archives)

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