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Submitted by dream on June 20, 2010 - 08:04.
If you were born between 1976 and 1992 you belong to the so called Generation Y which comes right after the Generation X (1960-1975) and right before the Generation Z (1993-2009).
According to William Strauss and Neil Howe in their book The Fourth Turning modern history repeats itself every four generations; that is, it moves in cycles that each has a length of four generations or eras about 80-100 years according to the country; but this four-cycles pattern can be seen all around the western world with few differences.
The authors of this book say that cycles come always in the same order. The first one is defined as a High one, during which a new order or human expansion takes place replacing the older one. It is followed by an Awakening, which is a time of rebellion against the already established order, it can be defined as more spiritual than the previous. After that, comes an era of Unraveling, during which individualism and fragmentation are basic elements of society, it is defined as a troubled era which leads directly to the Fourth Turning, where crisis dominates society which must redefine its very structure, goals and purposes.
Each generation has its archetypes, the four ones having the following one defined as: Prophet, Nomad, Hero, and Artist.
- Prophets: Mostly moralistic and values-driven, they struggle to the end in order to achieve what they believe in; they have also the ability to convince other people to join them in the struggle. They grow up as indulged children by their parents who belong to a High generation; but by the time they come of age they turn into the generators of the Awakening of society; during their midlife when the Unraveling takes place they are moralistic leaders while they are the wise elder leaders during the Crisis. The Baby Boomers (1942-1959) belong to this generation.
- Nomads: They are considered to be rather adventurous, cynical about established institutions, tough. They are the children who grew up with less protections than their parents during the Awakening generated by the latter. When they come of age they turn into the estranged and rather unwanted young adults of the Unraveling. Once they reach midlife, they become the leaders who must deal with a Crisis. Later they are the tough, post-crisis elders of a High era. An example of the Nomad generation is the Generation X (1960-1975).
- Heroes: This generation is defined as the one with a deep trust in authority and institutions; they are sort of conventional but still powerful. They grow up during the Unraveling with more protections than the previous generation. They believe in team work and thus when they come of age, turn into the heroic team-working young people of a Crisis. During their midlife they are the energetic, decisive and strong leaders of a High era; while they become the attacked powerful elders during the Awakening cycle. The Greatest Generation (1916-1924) belongs to this category. Generation Y is expected to become the next example of this type.
- Artists: They often have to deal with inner conflicts and feelings of being repressed. They are mostly emotional, indecisive but still compromising. They grew up as over-protected children during a Crisis. When they come of age they are sensitive young adults during the High era; turn out to be mostly indecisive leaders during their midlife in the Awakening era. Then they become the sensitive elders during the Unraveling. An example of this type is the Silent Generation (1925-1941). It is expected that Generation Z (1993-2009) is going to be the next example of this type of generation.
GENERATION Y - (1976-1992)
So we will focus on Generation Y and its trends. So if you were born in this period you may find lots of familiar things with those listed in this article.
This generation is also known as Millennial Generation, Generation Next or Net Generation because of the early contact with computers of its members as well as with Internet mostly since their teen years. They are also called Millennials.
This generation is divided into two parts the early and late Generation Y. Those born in the second half of the 70s and early 80s, who spent their childhood in the 80s, puberty in the 90s and entered legal age in the late 90s or early 2000s; belong to the Early stage of Generation Y. Those born during the mid and late 80s as well as early 90s, who spent their childhood during the 90s, puberty during the 2000s and finally entered legal age in the late 2000s or early 2010s, belong to the Late Generation Y.
The Millennials are mostly the children of Baby Boomers (1942-1959) however a large number of Late Millennials are also children of Generation X parents.
This generation is also known as the Peter Pan or Boomerang Generation because of delayed home-leaving trend among young adults of this generation as well as returning with their parents after a brief period of living on their own, they "boomerang" back to their place of origin.
The primary justification for this phenomenon is considered to be economic, mostly generated by the crisis of 2000-2002 in most of the american continent leading to rising unemployment until 2004; as well as by the 2008-2009 crisis. Since they cannot afford to live on their own, moving back home allows them to avoid the burden of paying rent. However eventual home-leaving remains a priority.
Another reason may be the fact of increased life expectancy, whereby all ages have been moved up; thus the former 20s are the current 30s or the former 60s are the current 70s, just to mention some examples. So millennial young adults at their 20s may behave in some aspects as teenagers.
TRENDS OF GENERATION Y THROUGH THE YEARS
So if you belong to Generation Y you may feel familiar with lots, if not most, of the things listed hereupon. First we are going to see what was going on in the world when Early Millennials were born or lived the first years of life (things you most probably don't remember as lived); then we are going to cover the years of childhood of Early Millennials / first years of life for Late Millennials, after that we are going to see the trends of this generation when Early Millennials became teenagers and Late Millennials lived their childhood and finally we are going to cover recent years when Early Millennials became young adults and Late Millennials became teenagers or some of them young adults.
EARLY MILLENNIALS - WHEN THEY WERE BORN OR LIVED EARLY CHILDHOOD BETWEEN 1976 AND EARLY 80s THIS HAPPENED:
You most probably do not remember these things as lived, but it is good to know what was going on when Early Millennials were just babies or little children.
|PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The President of the United States was: Gerald Ford (1974-1977), Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Ronald Reagan (1981-1989).
|PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: The Prime Minister of Canada was: Pierre Trudeau (1968-1979), Joe Clark (1979-1980), Pierre Trudeau (1980-1984).
|THE FIRST ARTIFICIAL GENE WAS GENERATED: This was the first living cell created entirely in a test tube without any other gene as a template.
|THE YEAR 1976 WAS THE BICENTENNIAL YEAR OF THE UNITED STATES 1776-1976: Festivities to celebrate the US 200th birthday took place all around the country with parades, exhibitions, shows and elaborate fireworks displays in the skies of American cities and towns.
|VHS VCRs WERE RELEASED: In 1976 JVC launched the Video Home System, commonly knows as VHS. It was introduced to the public at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago on June 4, 1977 and finally marketed to the public on October 1, 1977. During the 80s and 90s it was the dominant home video format. It would not be replaced until the mid 2000s when DVDs (Digital Versatile Disc) took over the market.
|FIRST HUMAN MADE OBJECT TO LAND ON MARS: The Viking Probe lands on Mars in July and sent back the first pictures of that planet.
|WEST POINT ACADEMY ADMITS WOMEN: In 1976 West Point military academy started accepting women.
|5 1/4'' FLOPPY DISK RELEASED: In 1976 Shugart Associates introduced the first 5¼-inch floppy disk to replace the 8-inch floppy disk.
|APPLE PERSONAL COMPUTER WAS LAUNCHED: On April 1, 1976 Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne established Apple to sell the hand-made Apple I personal computer. It was sold just as a motherboard. It went on sale in July 1976 and was market-priced at $666.66 ($2550 in 2010 dollars). Later Wayne sold his share of the company to Jobs and Wozniak for $800 and finally the company was incorporated on January 3, 1977 under a funding of $250 thousands. On April 16, 1977 the Apple II was introduced at the first West Coast Computer Faire. It came with color graphics and 5 1/4'' disk; the Disk II.
The Apple II was also the first true personal computer, as it was factory built and easy to learn and use; before that, computers were sold as kit microcomputers. It was also the first PC capable of color graphics and easy modem operation.
|MICROSOFT WAS FOUNDED: On November 26, 1976 the company was registered under the name of Microsoft with the Secretary of State of New Mexico. The name was first used in a letter sent by Bill Gates to Paul Allen on November 29, 1975. On October 22, 1979, a U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for Microsoft, being the first U.S. federal trademark filing by the company. On January 1, 1979, the company moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico to a new home in Bellevue, Washington.
The first operating system released publicly by the company was Xenix, a variant of Unix in 1980. In 1981 MS-DOS, was introduced.
|RED DYE Nº2 WAS BANNED: In 1977 after it was found to cause cancer, it was discontinued, leading to a red dye masive scare.
|GARFIELD THE CAT MADE HIS FIRST APPEARANCE: On June 19, 1978 Garfield, the cat who considers himself to be more intelligent than humans and other animals, made his first appearance. It was created by Jim Davis.
|ATLANTIC CITY PERMITS GAMBLING: After approving gambling for Atlantic City in 1976, the first casino in the eastern United States opened on May 26, 1978; soon other casinos were added along the Boardwalk and later in the marina district for a total of eleven as of 2010.
During the late 70s and early 80s when Las Vegas was experiencing a massive drop in tourism due to crime and local mafia; Atlantic City was favored over the sin city in Nevada.
|STAR WARS RELEASED IN 1977: The series of Star Wars began when Lucasfilm released on May 25, 1977 the Star Wars film. It was followed by The Empire Strikes Back, released on May 21, 1980, and Return of the Jedi, released on May 25, 1983.
The story takes place in a fictional galaxy, where space travel is common and various species of alien creatures, humanoids and robotic droids (mostly built to serve their owners) are depicted. Many planets in the galaxy are members of a Galactic Republic, which later was reorganized as the Galactic Empire.
|FIRST IN VITRO FERTILIZATION TEST TUBE BABY WAS BORN: On July 25, 1978, Louise Joy Brown, the world's first successful "test-tube" baby was born in Great Britain. Though the technology that made her conception possible was heralded as a triumph in medicine and science, it also caused many to consider the possibilities of future ill-use.
By the way, she is a millennial too. So this is the first generation benefited by this technology.
|THE WALKMAN WAS RELEASED: Sony released the first comercially available Walkman on July 1, 1979, the TPS-L2 model. It was first built in 1978 by audio-division engineer Nobutoshi Kihara for Sony co-chairman Akio Morita, who wanted to be able to listen to operas during frequent long plane trips.
In the US it was initially marketed as the Soundabout and the Stowaway in the UK. In Japan the marketing name was Walkman from the beginning, though Morita hated that name and asked that it be changed, he finally changed his mind when being told by junior executives that a promotion campaign had already begun using that brand name and that it would be too expensive to change at that moment.
It would become one of the symbolic inventions of this age, as it changed the way of listening music as well as it opened the access to media while doing activities outdoors and without the need to have the device plugged in the electrical outlet. It can be considered as the first portable media device.
|MARGARET THATCHER BECAME BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: On May 4, 1979 she became the first woman to take office in the UK (under a democratic system, since queen Mary I Tudor of England was the first female ruler in 1553). The Conservatives had taken over the Parliment and she was in office until November 28, 1990; becoming so one of the symbolic international leaders of the 80s.
|THE WHO CONCERT TRAGEDY IN CINCINNATTI:On December 3, 1979, during a tour in the United States of the british band The Who, 11 people were killed when the Riverfront Coliseum entrance doors were opened, a bottleneck situation ensued, and with so many thousands trying to gain entry, the crush became deadly. This happened in part due to the festival seating arrangement, in which seating on the floor is unassigned, so the first to enter the venue get the best place. After that incident, the city of Cicinnatti passed a by-law banning festival seating and general admission.
The following evening in Buffalo, NY Daltrey told the crowd that the band had lost a lot of family last night and this show's for them.
|JOHN LENNON ASSASSINATED IN 1980: John Lennon was shot in the back four times by Mark David Chapman at around 10:50 pm on 8 December 1980, soon after he and Ono returned to the Dakota, the New York apartment building where they lived, at the entrance of the building. Earlier that evening, Lennon had autographed a copy of Double Fantasy for Chapman. Lennon was taken to the emergency room of nearby Roosevelt Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:07 pm.
|RONALD REGAN ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ronald W. Reagan took office on January 20, 1981 and served also in a second term, thus being in office until January 20, 1989. He won the election, receiving 50.7% of the popular vote while the Democrat Jimmy Carter took 41%, and Independent John B. Anderson (liberal Republican) received 6.7%. Since he was in office for eight years, he is also considered as one of the symbolic international leaders of the 80s.
|THE CUBAN MARIEL BOATLIFT: In 1980, 125,000 Cuban refugees left Cuba through the port of Mariel, where an improvised flotilla of exiles from Miami in small pleasure boats and commercial shrimping vessels brought Cuban citizens who wished to leave Cuban to the United States. These immigrants are known as Marielitos
|SMALL POX ERADICATED: In 1980 Small pox is considered eradicated by the World Health Orginization.
|GENETIC ENGINEERING OF INSULIN BEGAN CLINICAL TRIALS: The first genetically-engineered, synthetic "human" insulin was produced in a laboratory in 1977 by Herbert Boyer using E. coli. The first clinical trials took place in 1980 and by 1982 it was first commercially available as biosynthetic human insulin under the brand name Humulin. The vast majority of insulin currently used worldwide is now biosynthetic recombinant "human" insulin or its analogs. Until then purified animal-sourced insulin was the only type of insulin available to diabetics.
|THE FIRST SPACE SHUTTLE WAS LAUNCHED IN 1981: On April 12,1981 the first space shuttle was launched. It returned on April 14, 1981, after orbiting the Earth 36 times, landing on the dry lakebed runway at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Its first operational mission, with a four-man crew, was launched on November 11, 1982.
|ASSASINATION ATTEMPT ON RONALD REAGAN: Assasination attempt on Ronald Regean on March 30, 1981 by John Hinkley
|THE DELOREAN WAS INTRODUCED: In October 1976, the first prototype DeLorean DMC-12 was completed by William T. Collins. DeLorean eventually built the DMC-12 in a factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, a neighborhood a few miles from Belfast city centre. Construction on the factory began in October 1978, and although production of the DMC-12 was scheduled to start in 1979, engineering problems and budget overruns delayed production until early 1981.
The DeLorean Motor Company went bankrupt in late 1982 when John DeLorean, the designer, was arrested in October of that year on drug trafficking charges. He was later found not guilty, but it was too late for the DMC-12 to remain in production.
Its engine produced a 170 horsepower (130 kW) output emissions regulations required that parts such as catalytic converters be added causing a 40 horsepower (30 kW) reduction to the vehicle's power output, a loss which seriously impeded the DMC-12's performance thus decreasing its popularity in the American market. DMC-12 could achieve 0–60 mph (0–96 km/h) in 8.8 seconds, very good for the early 1980s, but the American version of the car achieved that speed in 10.5 seconds.
It had a retail price of $25,000 (the equivalent to about $60,000 today). Approximately 9,000 DMC-12s were made before production stopped in late 1982. Today, about 6,500 DeLorean Motor Cars are believed to still exist. It would be later featured in the popular Back to the Future films trilogy (1985-1990).
|MICHAEL JACKSON'S THRILLER RELEASED: Michael Jackson's Thriller was released on November 30, 1982, selling around 110 million albums to become the largest selling record ever. It is by far the top selling album followed by the AC/DC album Back in Black with over 49 million albums.
|OZZY BITES THE HEAD OFF A BAT: Ozzy Osbourne bites the head off a live bat thrown at him at a January 20, 1982 performance.
|FALKLANDS WAR (GUERRA DE LAS MALVINAS): It started on Friday, 2 April 1982. The war lasted 74 days, and resulted in the deaths of 257 British and 649 Argentine soldiers, sailors, and airmen, and three civilian Falklanders. It is the most recent conflict to be fought by the UK without any allied states and the only external Argentine war since the 1880s.
The conflict was the result of a diplomatic confrontation regarding the sovereignty of the islands. Neither state officially declared war and the fighting was largely limited to the Falkland islands territory. The initial invasion was characterised by Argentina as the re-occupation of its own territory, and by the UK as an invasion of a British dependent territory.
|LIPOSUCTION WAS INTRODUCED: In 1982 Liposuction using blunt cannulas and high-vacuum suction was introduced and demonstrated both reproducible good results and low morbidity. During the 1980s, many United States surgeons experimented with liposuction, developing some variations, and achieving mixed results.
THE 80s WHEN EARLY MILLENNIALS WERE CHILDREN BETWEEN 6 AND 13 WHILE LATE MILLENNIALS WERE BABIES, TODDLERS OR LITTLE CHILDREN
If you were a child of the 80s you must remember:
Millennials are the last one who played and enjoyed playing with most toys in their physical format without the need of converting them to a videogame or digital format. Nowadays Generation Z kids play with the same games and toys of the Generation Y children but in their virtual digital format, so today the basic idea is if no screen no deal.
|RUBIK'S CUBE: Another famous toy of the 80s, the Rubik's Cube. Though it was invented in 1974 by Erno Rubik, under the name of Magic Cube it didn't become popular until 1980 when it was licensed by Rubik to be sold by the toys company Ideal Toys in the American market. During the 80s it became a worldwide success and an iconic toy of the decade, it is the world's top-selling puzzle game and widely considered to be the world's best-selling toy.
Since 1980, all kind of Rubik's Cube competitions started to take place all around the world.
It measures 2.25 inches (5.7 cm) on each side, consists of a 3x3x3 assortment of 26 coloured squares. The puzzle is simple (to understand), you must end up with only one color on each side by twisting the rows of squares around; now the taugh part is solving it.
Each of the six faces is covered by 9 stickers, among six solid colours white, red, blue, orange, green, and yellow. A pivot mechanism enables each face to turn independently, thus mixing up the colours.
If you are a child of the 80s you most probably played with it or you have seen a friend of yours trying to solve the maddening puzzle.
|SIMON: Another pop culture symbol of the 80s, Simon. Despite having been launched in 1978, it is a pop culture symbol of the 80s as it was very popular during that decade. So millions of children of the eighties had one or played with one.
It was designed by Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison and its name was based on the old children's game Simon Says. The marketing slogan of Simon was: Simon's a computer, Simon has a brain, you either do what Simon says or else go down the drain.
It is an electronic game of rhythm and memory skills, it consists of four large buttons, one each of the colors red, blue, green, and yellow. The unit lights these buttons in a sequence, playing a tone for each button; the player must press the buttons in the same sequence. The sequence begins with a single button chosen randomly, and adds another randomly-chosen button to the end of the sequence each time the player follows it successfully. The game ends when the player makes a mistake or when the player wins by matching the pattern for a predetermined number of tones. The Red button (upper right) plays an A-note or La, the Green button (upper left) plays an A-note or La but an octave higher than the Red button, the Blue button (lower right) plays a D-note or Re, and the Yellow button (lower left) plays a G-note or Sol.
There were lots of clones and re-releases of this game; including one with translucent case rather than plain black, a two-sided Simon, Pocket Simon, an eight-button Super Simon, a wriswatch version, a themed version featuring Star Wars sounds and a handheld Atari arcade named Touch Me (Actually the latter was a re-release of the 1974 version of the homonymous Atari game; since the company tried to take advantage on the success of Simon). But no one was so successful as the original.
OPERATION THE GAME: Though it was invented in 1962 by John Spinello and first marketed in 1965 by Milton Bradley; the game became very popular during the 80s.
The game consists of an operating table, with an embedded image of a patient named Cavity Sam with a large, red rubber coated light-bulb for his nose. In the surface are a number of openings, which reveal fictional and humorously-named ailments made of white poly-plastic.
The game is for 1 or more players, it includes two sets of cards -Doctor and Specialist cards-; the Specialist cards are dealt out evenly among the players at the beginning of the game, while to pick Doctor cards they must take turns, which offer a cash reward for removing a particular ailment, using a pair of tweezers connected with wire to the board. If a player successfully removes the ailment they'll win the amount shown on their card, but if the tweezers touch the metal edge of the opening during the attempt, a buzzer sounds, the patient's nose lights up red, and the player loses their turn. The player holding the Specialist card for that piece then has a try, getting double points if they succeed. The winner is the player with the most money after all the pieces have been extracted. The game can become sometimes difficult due to the shapes of the plastic ailments, and the fact the openings are just a little larger than the ailments themselves.
This is a dexterity game for an aproximate age range of 6 to adult and has an average playing time of 10 minutes. You most probably have played with, heard of or seen it, when you were a child in the 80s.
|MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: There is almost no child of the eighties who cannot remember He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. This is a toyline created by Mattel featuring different action figures including He-Man and Skeletor. The He-Man concept, later renamed the Masters Of The Universe, was originated and developed by Roger Sweet in early 1980. The concept was followed by the original minicomics by Donald F. Glut which came with each of the figures; these stories involved the character it came with.
Later in 1983 the production company Filmanation released the cartoon series for TV. The production company focused more on the lighter, humorous elements of the story rather than the violent ones featured by the toyline and the minicomics to make it more suitable for the children's TV audience.
However the basic idea behind the cartoon was controversial since it was created to market the line of toys. In the UK, advertising regulations forbade commercials for He-Man toys to accompany the program itself. To lower the negative comments against the cartoon, a "life lesson" or "moral of the story" at the end of each episode was included. Orko, the small alien magician, was introduced in the series as he was not one of the original characters of the toyline.
The action figures were mostly repeated patterns of the same body model, with head variations and repaints. Originally there were few molds; two chests, hairy and smooth, one belt/pair of shorts, and three sets of arms and legs (smooth muscular, evil 'claw' fingers/toes, and hairy). Teela had her own mold, which lated was used for Evil-Lyn. Later when Masters of the Universe became a complete success and a second wave was released, some new molds were added to the toyline, including Ram Man who had an exclusive format, Man-E-Faces and Trap Jaw are some examples.
He-Man action figures were sort of heavy as they were made of a rubbery plastic and some had a spring-loaded action. This action would enable He-Man or Skeletor to be able to throw a punch. He-Man action figure included a shield and sword for He-Man while Skeletor included a battle-axe.
The original line was released between 1982 and 1983 including He-Man, Man-At-Arms, Skeletor, Beast Man, Zodax, Teela, Mer-Man and Stratos. After becoming a complete success among children, Mattel decided to release a whole new batch in 1983 adding Faker I, Tri-Klops, Trap-Jaw, Evil-Lyn, Man-E-Faces and Ram-Man to the toyline.
Different spaceships as well as buildings were included. But the top point of the line was Castle Greyskull; the kind of 80s toy a child would always dream to have, making it almost a luxury due to the high price and size.
Mattel continued making the He-Man figures until 1987. So if you were a child during the 80s (Early Millennial) you probably played with He-Man figures and if you were lucky enough you had the Castle Greyskull too.
|TRANSFORMERS: Another one that hits the hall of fame. This toyline's prehistory can be found in the 70s (as it happened with many other toys of the 80s) in a previous toyline first designed in 1974 by the Japanese toys company Takara that was branded with the name Microman. It was a line of miniatures of the Henshin Cyborg. The first series, Microman Zone, consisted of four figures and several vehicles that had to be assembled. All the Microman toys could be attached to another toy to form new sets of toys by special connectors.
Later in 1980 they launched another toyline, Diaclone, consisting of transforming vehicles and robots piloted by miniature, magnet-shoed figures spun off from the prior Microman line that were in turn known as Inch-Man. In 1982, the line added the Car-Robots set of transforming robot toys. The Car-Robots added the feature of the robots being able to transform themselves into late 20th century-era contemporary vehicles. Meanwhile they launched a subline of Microman named MicroChange featuring toys that transformed into vehicles or robots which could be used with the Microman figures.
Finally in 1984, the American toys company Hasbro licensed the both the Diaclone Car-Robots and the Microman "Micro Change" toylines from Takara merging the two series for the American market and thus creating the Transformers. During the first two years they reused the Diaclone and Micro Change molds; including some early models made of die-cast metal, which later were discontinued.
Some of the figures of the previous lines became part of the new one; for instance, seven MicroChange robots were released as the Autobots Mini-Cars. Megatron was originally a black-and-brown Walther P-38 who turned into a robot wielding a laser gun and a sword. CassetteMan, a recorder that turned into a robot, was converted into the Decepticon Soundwave the robot that was capable of carrying a number of other robots who turned into actual-sized micro-cassettes.
The Constructicons were the first "gestalt" team in the Transformers line, but were different from most subsequent gestalt teams in that they consisted of six members instead of five. The Autobot Jeltfire was a repainted version of VF-1 Valkyrie, a character of the Macross Anime series, it later was renamed Skyfire in the animated television series program for copyright reasons.
In 1986 when the Transformers animated movie was released, and during the run of the film, a pamphlet came with certain figures, whereby you could order by mail (the good old real mail ) certain transformers, like Optimus Prime among others; they came in a standard brown mailer box, with items, booklet, and a limited Edition Movie certificate and sticker.
Due to changes in the movie and the TV series where they leaped ahead twenty years to the year 2005, in 1986 the line featured another big change, when the majority of the figures were conceived as futuristic vehicles and bore little resemblance to present-day machinery. According to many fans this change might have been what signaled the beginning of the end for the Transformers (at least the first generation), as part of the novelty of the first lines was the realistic vehicles that turned into robots.
However they did well until 1989 in the USA and 1993 in the UK. Later newer generations were released, as well as video games and even the new feature films.
We can say lots of things about the Transformers, but one is clear, they are one of the top toys of the 80s.
|TALK N ' PLAY: Playskool's educational toy, Talk 'n Play was a tape player with storybooks that you played along with by pressing the large red, blur, yellow and green buttons. The toy itself was a large and white player/recorder with images, it came with stories including Sesame Street, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Muppet Babies, songs and games as well as some simple audio editing features, making it one of those toys that children of the 80s loved to have. Maybe not suitable for children nowaday who are used to digital edition programs (actually they can almost achieve in their homes the same things professionals of the film edition of the 80s could do, kind of strange, think about it). Anyway, this was another one of the BIG ones of the 80s.
|TEDDY RUXPIN: An animatronic talking bear first produced in 1985 by the touys company Worlds of Wonder. Since it was an animatronic it could move his mouth and eyes while reading stories played by an incorporated audio tape in his back, played by Phil Baron. It also came with a companion figure named Grubby which could interact with Teddy via a cable that connected them. There were other non-animatronic companion figures too, including hand puppets like the bird-like Fobs and Wooly What's-It, a Tweeg puppet and an L.B. Bounder puppet.
Unlike normal cassettes, the Teddy Ruxpin cassette used the two tracks differently: the left track containing the audio, while the right track encodes the toy's movements. A special hole in the top of the cassette tells the teddy bear that the right track contains movement data.
Due to the temporal success it was adapted to a television series named The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin that ran from 1987-1988.
Though it was very popular for some time, it turned out to be just a fad. At the beginning with the success and sales record; Worlds Of Wonder’s incomes rose well beyond its assets, however after some time and some stock investment wrong "strategies" by some of the officers of the company and the consequent investors withdrawal; the company issued Non-Investment Grade Bonds, also known as junk bonds, which did not help that much on saving the company which filed for bankruptcy in 1988 going through a series of layoffs and the final liquidation in 1991. Though the toyline's rights were purchased by Hasbro which produced it until 1996 and other successive companies later; the 1985-1987 success of Teddy Ruxpin could not be repeated so far.
No matter the financial troubles behind this lovely toy, lots of children of the 80s loved Teddy and still remember him.
|MY LITTLE PONY: Most probably every little girl's dream, this line of toy ponies was produced by the toy company Hasbro. They had colorful bodies and manes as well as a symbol or series of symbols on one or both sides of their haunches; they are always named after the aforementioned symbols.
This line was launched in 1983 following the previous My Pretty Pony toyline released in 1981; becoming one of the most popular toys of the eighties. My Little Pony line's ran during the period 1983-1992 in the US and 1983-1995 internationally. Its success led to the creation of two animated TV series as well as a feature film.
The toyline was launched with Earth Ponies in 1982, featuring plump, colorful ponies with flat feet; later My Little Ponies would have their feet more concave resembling actual horse feet. After the Earth Ponies they released Pegasi and Unicorns. Flutter Ponies were much smaller than Pegasus ones, they included fragile wings. Windy Wing and Summer Wing Ponies were even smaller but had larger wings. Sea Ponies resembled the mythological hippocampus. There were male ponies too, the Big Brother Ponies featuring slightly larger bodies.
Many sets and versions were produced, starting with the Rainbow Ponies in 1983; the So-Soft Ponies, covered entirely in flocking, Twinkle-Eyed Ponies; Twice As Fancy Ponies, with their bodies covered mostly with sigils (magic symbols); and Brush n' Grow Ponies, with a longer tail stored inside the body that could be drawn out when brushed.
The first My Little Pony cartoon was the prime time special Rescue at Midnight Castle in 1984. It was followed by a similar special, Escape from Catrina. In 1986, the ponies appeared in their first feature film, My Little Pony: The Movie with mediocre box office results, grossing almost $6 million in the United States mostly negative reviews. It was followed by the more popular My Little Pony TV series. The series promoted a great many of the toys available in 1986-1987, featuring a large regular cast of Earth, Pegasus, and Unicorn Ponies with guest appearances by new lines such as Flutter Ponies and Princess Ponies. The theme song of the series was the same featured in TV advertisements for the brand.
After many successful years during their 10th anniversary the little ponies had their last release in 1992. Later in 1997 Hasbro decided to launch a second generation of My Little Pony as well as a third generation in 2003; but they did not achieve the same level of success of their 80s counterparts; thus they are popularly related or connected with the eighties.
|CARE BEARS: This toyline started out as fictional greetings card characters of American Greetings (one of the largest greeting cards company) in 1981. Later in 1983 they were turned into plush teddy bears by Kenner Toys, thus entering the toys world.
Care Bears were initially created in 1981 by Those Characters From Cleveland (TCFC), the Licensing Division of American Greetings. Muriel Fahrion, was the first concept artist of these characters. She designed the first six bears, creating the best-selling greeting card themes for their belly graphics. Elena Kucharik became the primary artist for the Care Bears creating hundreds of full color illustrations for cards, books other products. Muriel's sister, Susan Trentel, designed the plush version of the bears.
In 1983, the Care Bears were announced as a toyline for production by Parker Brothers and Kenner Toys and in 1983, they entered the toys market. The same year they starred The Land Without Feelings, their first television special, also produced by Kenner Toys. In this special the first villian of the series, Professor Coldheart, made the first appearance. In 1984 another special was released, The Care Bears Battle the Freeze Machine, in which Professor Coldheart's assistant Frostbite is introduced. Later Lexington Broadcast Services Company distributed a miniseries based on the toys. Three new Care Bears named Grams Bear, Baby Hugs, and Baby Tugs were introduced as well as a spin-off line, the Care Bear Cousins.
In 1985, the Bears and Cousins starred in their first movie, The Care Bears Movie; becoming the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film of the time. Later that autumn, a 22 episodes television series was made.
In 1986 a second movie entitled Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation was released by Columbia Pictures; featuring a new villain, Dark Heart, and introducing Harmony Bear, True Heart Bear, and Noble Heart Horse. The same year a TV series titled The Care Bears was released on the ABC network, lasting two seasons and consisting of over 70 episodes. It introduced a new villain; the evil wizard No Heart and his sidekick Beastly. In the second season, No Heart's niece Shreeky was added to the list of villains.
In 1987 their last theatrically-released film, The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland, was released. The 1988 film Care Bears Nutcracker Suite was decided to be launched as a direct-to-TV movie after the previous film's failure at the box office; premiering on the Disney Channel.
Throughout the 80s, almost every little girl's bedroom had a Care Bear in it; with over 40 million Care Bears having been sold between 1983 and 1987; over 70 million greeting cards were printed by American Greetings during the decade; and in whole, the sales of their merchandise reached over $2 billion during the eighties, thus becoming, together with Transformers and My Little Pony one of the top-selling toylines of the time. By the end of the decade however their popularity was gone together with the eighties, giving place to new kind of toys and games.
The bears reached 13-inch high, and their personalities were sort of described by their names. Among the most popular ones were Funshine, Good Luck, Cheer, Tenderheart, Friend, Grumpy, Wish, Bedtime and Love-a-lot.
There is no doubt about their right to be included in this list of popular toys of the 80s.
|CABBAGE PATCH KIDS: This one is a marketing mystery of how it became another one of the top-selling and most popular toys of the 80s; actually they were kind of a fad peaking in the1983-1985 period. The year of 1983, could be named the year of Cabbage Patch Kids craze, when people were literally fighting to get one. At their popularity peak they were a must-have toy for Christmas; and parents across the United States flocked to stores to try to obtain one for their children, with fights occasionally erupting between parents over the hard-to-find dolls
It is probable that these characters became so popular thanks to a great marketing campaign rather than the attention the product itself created. It can be called a marketing miracle, since they appeared in many other Cabbage Patch merchandising products ranging from animated cartoons, to board games.
They were created originally as dolls called Little People by Xavier Roberts with the help of four other women and inspired by Tennessee artisan, Martha Nelson in 1978. In the beginning, they had been the subjects of an art exhibition of Roberts. He used German fabric sculpting and quilting methods to produce the so called Little People, which he'd sell at various arts and crafts fairs to substitute his art school fees.
Later Roger Schlaifer secured the worldwide licensing rights to Little People and changed their name to Cabbage Patch Kids. In 1982 they attracted the attention of toy the company Coleco, thus negotiating with Roger L. Schlaifer on behalf of Schlaifer Nance & Company, the exclusive worldwide licensing agency for Roberts' company.
who began mass-production immediately after that, giving an unexpected boost with an appearance on the reality TV show Real People in the US.
Roger Schlaifer was responsible for originating the name, designing all of the graphics and packaging. Together with his wife Susanne Nance, co-authored The Legend of the Cabbage Patch Kids. The story was reproduced, in abbreviated version, on every Cabbage Patch Kids product from 1983. Parker Brothers published the original story retitled Xavier's Fantastic Discovery in 1984 and their Parker Records produced a Gold Album using the characters.
The Coleco Cabbage Patch Kids (1982-1989) had large, round vinyl heads, (originally of a different, hard plastic), and soft fabric bodies, and were produced at a factory in Amsterdam, New York.
It was such a success that in 1984 they generated over $2 billion in retail sales. Total sales during the Schlaifers' tenure exceeded $4.5 billion. Later SN&C sold its exclusive licensing rights to Roberts' company, to Hasbro and a succession of other toy companies. Since the rights sale, the sales incomes of the dolls and other licensed products declined precipitously. However the dolls have become a one of the few long-running doll brands in history.
In 1988 Coleco Industries filed for bankruptcy but the dolls continued to be made by Hasbro and Mattel. Despite their popularity decline the Cabbage Patch Kids were named the official mascot of the 1992 US Olympic team and each member of team had a doll version. In 1999 they were selected as one of the 15 commemorative US postage stamps representing the 1980s.
Despite their popularity remains a mystery, they were also one of the symbols of 80s pop-culture.
|THUNDERCATS: Produced by the toys company LJN between 1985 and 1987, they are included in the list of representative characters and toys of the eighties. This toyline was based on the animated series. Each figure had different action features and the toyline included a laser light-up feature that interacted between the Cats Lair set, some figures as well as some accessories. For example Lion-O's eyes illuminated when a special key ring that came with the figure was pressed into a slot in their backs.
In 1986 some figures were packaged with PVC companions, for instance WilyKat with Tygra, WilyKit with Cheetara, Snarf with Lion-O, and Ma-Mutt with Mumm-Ra. The PVC companion figures were also produced as full sized articulated figures.
Lots of children of the 80s, fans of the series, had the figures and most probably reproduced, while playing, the famous words Thundercats, Thundercats, Thundercats, Ho!
|LEGO: Back in the eighties it was normal to find in a house where children lived, those little bricks scattered all around the place, vehicles made out of bricks, structures of all kind made out of bricks, entire cities constructed out of these little bricks! But of course we are talking about LEGO (or "Legos" as they were called colloquially in the US leading to the company to put a request on the packaging asking people to call it Lego). Kids and their friends who came over used to spend hours playing with it, and then their parents, family or adult friends of the family would marvel at the creations of their children.
Though this famous toy was created back in the 40s it could be easily admitted that it reached its peak during the 80s and 90s. In 1932 Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter in Denmark, with a lack of normal carpentry jobs, started producing toys, many of which were wooden pull toys. In 1934 the company was named LEGO after the phrase leg godt, meaning "play well" in Danish. Then in 1949 Lego started producing similar plastic bricks, called "Automatic Binding Bricks."
In 1958 the current type of bricks was designed, featuring a much more improved format to allowing a better binding ability as well as compatibility. Thus a 1958 brick can bind with a LEGO brick produced nowadays fitting exactly and tightly.
Since 1959 LEGO entered the international market selling its products in other countries including Norway, Germany, Switzerland and the UK. In 1961 started selling in the United States and Canada through a license agreement with Samsonite Corp. By 1968 the first theme park is opened in Billund, Denmark. In 1969 the Duplo system focused on younger children, which used larger bricks was launched. Later in 1974 the famous LEGO figures were introduced and by the second half of the 70s the most popular core themes were introduced, starting in 1977 with LEGO Town and Technic, in 1978 LEGO castle and space, and in 1979 Fabuland.
By the 80s LEGO touches its popularity peak in sales and growes to 5,000 employees worldwide in 1985. In 1980 according to a survey 70% of all Western European families with kids under fourteen owned LEGO bricks; in the United States, despite being lower the percentage was still very high. It was so popular that the LEGO Club was established in 1987. Later in 1989 a new theme was added, LEGO Pirates.
During the 90s the popularity keeps steadily high and by 1997 it s estimated that 180 billion Lego elements have been made and over 300 million people worldwide play with them.
During the 2000s the marketing system of LEGO changed and despite still creating basic sets, or LEGO City sets, they are less popular and the company is more focused on developing themed play sets based on popular films such as Star Wars, Toy Story or Harry Potter while lots of classic themes have been discontinued. The company has been also focused on the videogames format of LEGO bricks having released since 1997 over 35 games and more are to come in the future. Thus, LEGO too as in the case of so many other companies, during the last decade became more commercial.
So, though they were sort of expensive, children of the 80s could just go and buy loads of LEGO blocks, and make whatever they could dream up.
|PLAYMOBIL: If we mentioned LEGO it is fair to add Playmobil in this list too. It is for sure that there is almost no child of the 80s who does not know what a Playmobil is or who never played with one at least once.
The idea for the Playmobil system came to mind after the 1971, and it was developed by Hans Beck (1929 – 2009) who worked in the company Geobra Brandstätter developing model airplanes. But then the owner of the company, Horst Brandstätter, asked him to develop toy figures for children instead. It took him three years to develop the famous 7.5 cm tall figures and different scenarios for them. Earlier figures had arms of one piece without hands rotation, but later they added that too.
The initial idea was to build vehicles that would be accompanied by very basic action figures, secondary to the vehicles in importance and were only meant to be static add-ons to the vehicles. But later Hans Beck's focused more on the figures instead. The figures were designed to be ideal for a children's hand, and in such a way that the scenarios constructed around them would still fit into a children's room.
Finally the Playmobils were introduced at the International Nürnberg Toy Fair in 1974 and in 1975 it began to be sold worldwide. The first sets were themed on Native Americans, construction workers and knights. At the beginning the figures were called colloquially Klickies due to the typical clicking sound a figure makes when it is handled during play, but later in the eighties the term was discontinued. During the 80s and the 90s this toyline became famous to the point that no child did not have at least one small set.
Its success was big, despite being expensive and for some reason became the biggest competitor to LEGO. Their marketing system was similar and they were always put next to each other in toystores. The Playmobil toys are usually realistic, and present accurate representations of arms, armor, costumes, and tools from a recognizable time period.
Though it is less popular in the American continent, it still sells well. But nothing compared to the popularity it reached during the eighties when children of that generation, could still have a nice time without the need of a screen and a console or computer to have fun, despite lots of them already had their Colecos, Ataris or Commodore 64s.
|CONNECT FOUR: Despite the first consoles like Coleco or Atari and personal computers like Commodore 64 or Amiga were slowly becoming popular; the 80s were also good years for board games among children, making them a good alternative during rainy days. One of those famous games of the time was Connect Four.
It is a two-player game in which the players first choose a color and then take turns dropping their colored discs from the top into a seven-column, six-row vertically-suspended grid. The pieces fall straight down, occupying the next available space within the column. The object of the game is to connect four checker pieces of one's own color horizontally, vertically or diagonally before the opponent can do so.
Despite being launched in 1974 by Milton Bradley, it remained popular all throughout the eighties.
|REMOTE CONTROL CARS: Radio-controlled or Remote Control cars are usually considered as either toys or a hobby. The 80s saw an explosion in the popularity of the hobby, most notably in the 1/10th scale off-road category. Most children of the 80s had one or knew someone who had a RC car. This was an era when you could expect to see 400 competitors in a major race.
The eighties, when game consoles and computer did not reproduce real world as close to the reality as it gets, cars, trains and planes modelling was at the peak of its popularity. In the case of RC cars, they were launched in the 60s, grew during the 70s and touched the peak of popularity during the 80s. In 1976, Tamiya Inc. released their very first RC car, the 1/12 Scale Porsche 934 Turbo. This was powered by an electric motor with a pan chassis and direct drive transmission.
RC Cars of the 70s were designed to run on-road, such as smooth parking lots. After Tamiya released the Tamiya Rough Rider in 1979 it brought a new dimension to the hobby. The car was capable of running in off-road conditions such as dirt, rocky terrain, and water. It had a die-cast suspension system and large rubber tires.
The 80s also were the years of the first World Championships, held every two years, for the 1/12th scale on-road electric cars. There were also some control car clubs were kids as well as hobbyists could go and race them.
By 1988 there was a new class of RC cars, the 1/10th electric on-road racing cars. These lightweight cars had incredible power-to-weight ratio, capable of circling oval tracks at speeds in excess of 40mph (65 km/h).
Despite its popularity during the 90s it cannot be compared with the peak it reached during the 80s; while currently the hobby is experiencing a dwindle in interest as well as a slow growth.
|STAR WARS FIGURES: Almost every kid of the 80s loved these toys. Lots of children had them. The Kenner toy company produced the Star Wars figures based on prominent characters of the original Star Wars movie trilogy. Over 90 unique action figures were produced and sold from 1977 to 1985 and over 300 million figures of the toyline were sold during that same period. After the big success of sales of these figures, other action-adventure movies took the example and marketed their films producing their own action figure lines.
Their size usually was smaller than 4 inches but they featured different aspects. They were produced along with vehicles and playsets. They used to come with product cards that promoted all available action figures, upcoming figures as well as other related products.
Despite the line was relaunched in 1995 under the name of Power of the Force (By Kenner as a subsidiary of Hasbro 1995-1998 and 1999-2000 by Hasbro) and later again up to this day with collections reproducing all Star Wars films (Hasbro) it never reached the same levels of popularity of the 80s and making the first series the most sought-after by collectors of the line.
|POCKETEERS: They were introduced in 1975 but kept being highly popular during the first half of the 80s. Tomy was the company that produced these great toys. There were about 72 to choose from, all with different subjects covered. They were some kind of non-electronic handheld "video" games or pocket games that slowly were replaced by the 80s popular handheld LCD electronic games like the Nintendo Game & Watch series. Nevertheless they were really entertaining for children of the 80s either with electronic games around or without them, and they used to have a nice time playing with these toys.
|BIG TRAK: If you are an 80s kid you have to remember this one. It was a programmable electric vehicle and unlike RC cars it was controlled through a keypad on the top to programme a pre-defined path to follow.
It was a six-wheeled tank with a front-mounted blue photon beam headlamp, and the control keypad on top. This toy was a marvel for the time, it could receive up to 16 commands which it then executed in sequence.
It was sort of a programmable vehicle that you could set to follow specific patterns, like go forward five units, turn left, go forward eight units, fire you guns, etc.
The commands included the following orders and keys Forward/Backward, Left/Right, HOLD, FIRE to fire the light bulb or "laser" simulator, CLR to clear the orders, CLS to clear the last step, RPT to repeat or loop a certain number of orders, TEST to run a short test program, etc.
The catalog of this toy announced: Let Big Trak's electronic memory treat you to an absolutely spectacular performance. Just punch in your program of commands and watch Big Trak carry them out: moving forward, backward, left and right, up to 99 length units! Order Big Trak to picot into a sharp or wide-angled turn, full circle, or even beyond that.
It also included an optional trailer that could be attached to Bigtrak, as well as be programmed to dump its payload. There were little differences between the American and British versions; like the gray plastic that covered the American version was white in the British one; as well as having different keypads.
This toy was innovative and different from any other since it added the "programming" component, it was of the kind every children dreamed of back in those days and in case one of your friends had it you would spend hour, days and weeks in their home playing with it and thus quenching your thirst of having it.
|HANDHELD ELECTRONIC GAMES: Almost no child of the 80s did not have one of these miniature, portable electronic games; or at least did not play with one. During the 80s there was a huge mania of handheld games. Every child dreamed of having one, since they allowed them to have all kind of adventures and play them anywhere they wanted. Just like today lots of children carry their cell phones, kids of the eighties used to carry with them their handheld games. They came in all sizes and formats; widescreen, multiscreen, watch-format, tabletop, etc.
They were introduced in the market in 1976 when Mattel released Auto Race and Football in 1977; both of them were the first ever all-electronic handheld, using no moving or mechanical parts (like the aforementioned Pocketeers), just electronic components, it was a complete innovation for the entertainment industry. Soon other companies like Coleco, Parker Brothers or Milton Bradley among others entered the handheld electronic games market.
However this first generation of electronic games used LED (light-emitting diode) technology instead of screens. So the real boom did not begin until the 80s after LCD displays became inexpensive, thus replacing LED displays in handheld games.
In 1979 the LCD-based Microvision line by Milton-Bradley, became the first handheld game console and the first with interchangeable game cartridges. Since then everything would change; and the handheld electronic games would become another symbol of the pop-culture of the eighties.
In 1980, Nintendo entered the electronic games market through the famous Game & Watch games; probably the most successful line of handheld games. These LCD-based games included a digital time display in the corner of the screen. In later versions Nintendo added, more complicated Game & Watch games, featuring for the first time a cross shaped directional pad or "D-pad" for control of on-screen characters. This kind of directional pad was included on the Famicom game console's controllers too. This kind of controllers soon became standard on game console controllers and ubiquitous across the video game industry as a replacement for the joystick.
The graphics of these games are fixed in place, so every possible location and state of game objects or characters is preset and they are usually visible when resetting a game. The movement effect is created by sequentially flashing objects between their possible states or positions. The backgrounds are static drawings, layered behind the "moving" graphics which are transparent when not in use.
Other companies like Casio and Tiger Electronic would enter the market too becoming the biggest competitors of Nintendo.
Among the most famous games there are from the Nintendo's wide screen Game & Watch line: Parachute, Manhole, Octopus, Popeye, Chef, Donkey Kong Jr.; from the Nintendo's multiscreen Game & Watch line Oil Panic, Donkey Kong, Mickey & Donald, Donkey Kong Jr.; Casio's Hungry Dragon, Crazy Bee, Funny Bar, Western Bar. Of course they are just a few of hundreds of electronic games that could be mentioned.
These games would slowly evolve into more powerful systems like the Nintendo's Game Boy and other mini consoles. So the boom of electronic games during the eighties would introduce a new style of entertainment and the children of the 80s or early millennials were the first to experience with this kind of entertainment since childhood years; as much as Generation Z children are the first ones to experience with cell phones, iPods, Pendrives and other handheld digital media devices since the same age.
NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND TRENDS:
During the 80s there were a number of new technologies introduced to the market that changed people's lives, representing the thresshold to the current new era in which people have access from their homes to all kind of media. It was the transition decade to our current lifestyle in which anyone can do almost everything from their homes; rent, buy or watch movies without having to leave your place; download media, get info of all kind, work at home, buy and download games, through internet; send messages, SMS, take pictures with cell phones and digital cameras; everything at affordable prices. But before the development of the new era took place, there was a precursor time during which the way towards the new technologies was paved and that happened during the 80s.
Here is a brief list with some of the new technologies and trends that paved the way to new lifestyles which changed our lives forever:
|THE VCR: Since the release of this machine everyone has the possibility of watching at their favorite movies, sports events, concerts, etc. over and over again whenever they wish to and from home. During the 80s there was a boom of VCRs becoming almost a necessity rather than a luxury, almost at the same level of TV sets. By the late 80s early 90s almost every home had a VCR under the TV.
Since the release of this electronic appliance, people could record their favorite tv programs, watch movies; also if they missed a program or an episode of their favorite series they could program the timer of the VCR in order to start recording at a certain time, thus being able to watch it later. This changed the media and entertainment world forever.
During the 60s there were already different video recorders and formats, however they had several drawbacks; they were expensive for the home consumer market, they had limited recording time.
In 1971 Sony introduced the world's first commercial videocassette format U-matic system, using a 3/4-inch (1.9 cm) tape and with a maximum playing time of 60 minutes, later extended to 90 minutes; together with them Sony introduced the VP-1100 videocassette player and the VO-1700 videocassette recorder; however its high cost made it available only to television newsrooms, educational institutions, businesses or TV networks.
In 1972 Philips released a new format confusingly named VCR or N1500; it used square cassettes and half-inch (1.3 cm) tape, mounted on co-axial reels, with a 1-hour recording time. Nevertheless it was expensive too, making it unsuccessful in the home market. It was followed by the N1502 in 1975, featuring a digital timer and later in 1977 by the N1700 or VCR-LP (Long Play). The latter sold quite well to educational institutions.
However it was not until the second half of the 70s that the VCR started to become a mass market consumer product, when Sony released the Betamax in November 1975, JVC the VHS in September 1976 (July 1977 in the United States) and Philips de V-2000 (Video 2000) in 1978.
At the beginning there was a commercial battle between Betamax and VHS; but since the latter allowed a 2 hours recording time and 4 hours in the long play format (introduced in September 1977 with the RCA SelectaVision models), while the former was limited to 1-hour recording time; the consumers gave preference to the VHS system. Later Sony introduced the Beta-II and Beta-III to allow a maximum recording time of over 5 hours, but by that time VHS had the 6, 8 or 9 hours per tape.
The V2000 had two sides having to be flipped over halfway through their recording time just like an audio cassette and a recording time of 4 hours per side (later extended to 8 hours per side). But due to the poor reliability of early models it gained a bad reputation plus by the time it was released the battle between VHS and Betamax was well installed, resulting in poor sales and the consequent discontinuation by mid-80s.
In the early 1980s, the film companies of the USA fought to suppress the VCR in the consumer market, citing concerns about copyright violations. Some of them compared the VCR with a criminal citing that "it is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone". Finally in the case Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that it was allowed only for private use. However, by the time the film companies would experience higher incomes thanks to VHS and making their films available on this format for sale.
By the mid-80s the VHS had already taken over the market, becoming the prevalent format for the next 20 years when it was overtaken by the DVD, but just for playback of prerecorded videos (DVD rentals fist surpassed those of VHS in June 2003), since the digital video recorders did not drop in price until the second half of the 2000s.
Therefore the VHS can be considered as the format of the millennials, since it dominated the market during the childhood and adolescence of both early and late millennials for over two decades.
The VHS also gave birth to a new type of business, the video rental. Thousands of video rental stores opened during the 80s and 90s all across the American continent from Canada to Argentina and Chile; including the video rental chain of Blockbuster.
What child of the 80s (as well as of the 90s) does not remember going to the closest video rental store to rent movies like The Goonies, Back to the Future trilogy, Star Wars trilogy, Die Hard trilogy, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, among other successful films of the time.
|VIDEO RENTAL / BLOCKBUSTER: The great success of the VHS VCR-format brought a new type of business, the video rental. During the 80s thousands of video rental stores opened all across the American continent.
Having the possibility to choose what you wanted to watch instead of waiting for a film to come on at the cinemas or TV. This new business also affected and lowered the price of going to the movie theaters.
The millennials were the first children to experience the possibility of watching whatever they wanted whenever they wanted, at home and as many times as they wished to, of course for a small due according to the number of days they rented a film for; but for a 24 hs. rental they could watch a 2 hours film entirely 12 times! (of course who could stand that?). But it was something different, an alternative to movie theaters.
There was one particular chain of video rental stores that became highly popular all around the world; Blockbuster Entertainment (later known as Blockbuster Inc.). The first Blockbuster store opened in Dallas, Texas on October 26, 1985 and was founded by David Cook. Soon Scott Beck and John Melk started buying every Blockbuster franchise they could, opening on average, during a period, a video store every 17 hours. In the 1990s Blockbuster bought out their major UK rival Ritz Video and renamed every store of that chain to Blockbuster, turning into the biggest video rental store in the UK.
By 1995, it was sold to Viacom for $8.4 billion and in 1996 it changed its name from Blockbuster Entertainment Corporation to Blockbuster, Inc. Later it was separated from Viacom in 2004. It reached its peak of popularity during the 90s and the first half of the 2000s. However with the advent of Internet, films piracy, movies downloading, online movies websites, etc; the company experienced a high decline of incomes.
Thus it started closing down lots of stores all around the world and operations in many countries. In 2007 it closed 282 stores only in the United States and on March 17, 2007 it issued a bankruptcy warning after continued drops in revenue. As of 2010 it had a debt of around $1 billion. Nowadays to save the business it is more focused on online rental and sales of films, games and other kind of entertainment.
It is clear that the video rental era is reaching the end nowadays, you can realize that just getting out an taking a stroll around your city to see that lots of video stores have just disappeared, meanwhile Internet is filling up with online videos and films websites. No wonder what is to be blamed for the end of the era of the video rental stores; another symbol of the pop-culture of the 80s (as well as the 90s and early 2000s).
Early millennials experienced the surge, peak and decline of this almost three-decades business while late millennials can easily remember its peak and decline.
We should face it, new trends and lifestyles in our times are short-lived compared to past ones due to high speed new technologies are being developed at.
|WALKMAN: It was released in 1979 and changed the way of listening music, it also paved the way media access through portable devices, while doing activities outdoors and without the need to have the device plugged in the electrical outlet. It can be considered as the first portable media device.
Though it was mostly used by Generation X young adults and teenagers; but lots of children of the 80s also had theirs. Back in the days Internet was ignored by regular citizens and it was only available to scientists or universities; young people used to wait with their finger on the record button while listening to the radio to capture their favourite songs so they could listen to them on the walkman the next day.
Sony released the first comercially available Walkman on July 1, 1979, the TPS-L2 model. It was first built in 1978 by audio-division engineer Nobutoshi Kihara for Sony co-chairman Akio Morita, who wanted to be able to listen to operas during frequent long plane trips.
In the US it was initially marketed as the Soundabout and the Stowaway in the UK. In Japan the marketing name was Walkman from the beginning, though Morita hated that name and asked that it be changed, he finally changed his mind when being told by junior executives that a promotion campaign had already begun using that brand name and that it would be too expensive to change at that moment.
They were a big success, among the most sold electronic devices in the market; before the era of mp3s, flash memories and other digital storage portable audio player devices, having a walkman was the only way of listening music with a portable medium. It was also a cultural device of young people as well as part of their fashion.
|COMPACT DISC / CD: Another technological breakthrough of the 80s was the release of the CD, the medium that would change the way of music and data storage almost for the next three decades.
During the second half of the 80s and all the 90s, the popularity of this medium would grow, replacing the audio cassette.
In September 1976 Sony, first publicly demonstrated an optical digital audio disc. Then in September 1978, the company demonstrated a 150 minute playing time optical digital audio disc with a 44,056 Hz sampling rate and 16-bit linear resolution. Later in 1979, Sony and Philips Consumer Electronics (Philips) set up a joint project to develop a new digital audio disc.
Finally the first test CD was pressed in Hannover, Germany, by the Polydor Pressing Operations plant in 1981, containing a recording of Richard Strauss's Eine Alpensinfonie (An Alpine Symphony). The first public demonstration was on the BBC television program Tomorrow's World when The Bee Gees' album Living Eyes (1981) was played. Finally the first CD to be manufactured The Visitors (1981) by ABBA. The first album to be released on CD was Billy Joel's 52nd Street, reaching the market together with Sony's CD player CDP-101 on October 1, 1982.
Since March 2, 1983 CD players and discs were released in the United States, thus starting off the era of digital audio. Due to its higher capacity than other mediums and sound quality it took over the market by the second half of the 80s and becoming the leading audio storage medium in the 90s, replacing cassette players from homes and cars.
As the price of CD-players lowered the popularity grew; making it the preferred medium in the rock music market. By 1985, Dire Straits, was the first band to sell a million copies on CD format with the release of their album Brothers in Arms. David Bowie was the first artist to convert all his albums to CD format in February 1985.
Despite it was first designed as music medium, in 1985 it was also made available for digital data storage; so Philips and Sony launched the CD-ROM and later in 1990 the CD-Recordable. During the 90s more optical disc formats were released like the DVD. Until mid-2000s when the Mp3 and other digital storage/player devices became popular the CD was the leading storage medium; nevertheless during the second half of the 2000s CD sales dropped increasingnly.
There is no doubt that the CD is another technology with which the millennials grew up, being so natural to them as Internet to Generation Z children and teenagers.
|DISCMAN: Before the introduction of the CD, cassette tapes were the leading audio storage medium and the walkman the leading portable audio player.
The Sony CDP-101 was the world's first commercially released Compact Disc player; so the company worked on the development of a new player reduced in size, cost as well as the power and number of parts needed. It was the CD CD Project (Compact Disc Cost Down Project). The original idea was to produce a CD player one-tenth the CDP-101 which by the time was converted to a portable device.
The result was the development of the D-50, introduced in November 1984. It had the same capabilities of the regular player CDP-101 but half its cost. The release of this portable player helped by the popularity of the walkman but the better quality provided by the CD, boosted the Compact Disc sales and its popularity. Before long it became a success continuously growing in sales.
Due to its similarity to its predecessor, the Walkman, it was known as the Discman, but Sony named it CD Walkman.
Those early Discmans came with a battery that could last 2 hours on a charge. One problem they had was their read speed, unlike current ones it was only x1, so if you tapped the top of the player, it took about 10 seconds to recover or if you didn't hold the player exactly level, it wouldn't play a thing. At the beginning it was also expensive, by 1985 it could be purchased for $800 in the United States; but with the increasing popularity of the CD the prices started to go down. By 1987 you could buy one for $300- $400. After a few years (by the early 90s) the Discman would replace the Walkman for good.
|CABLE NETWORKS: Cable TV existed in the United States since the beginning of Television, to enhance poor reception of over-the-air tv signals coming from hundreds of miles away in mountainous or geographically remote areas. So, Community antennas were erected on mountain tops or other high points, and homes were connected to the local antenna towers to receive the broadcast signals. However in the 60s the importation of distant signals was viewed as competition by local television stations, so the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) placed restrictions on the ability of cable systems to import distant television signals, leading to a “freeze” effect on the development of cable systems in major markets until the early 70s.
Due to the adverse financial effects caused by the restrictions that limited the ability of cable operators to offer movies, sporting events, and syndicated programming; since 1972 gradual cable deregulation ensued resulting in the continued lessening of restrictions on cable throughout the decade.
In 1972, Charles Dolan and Gerald Levin of Sterling Manhattan Cable launched the nation’s first pay-TV network, Home Box Office (HBO). But the HBO was a signal subscribers were required to pay extra to receive. So Ted Turner, the owner of the local Atlanta, Georgia WTCG channel; decided to offer his station nationwide through satellite, enabling WTCG to be received nationwide, so becoming known as the first superstation and changing its name to WTBS (TBS standing for Turner Broadcasting System).
This led to the creation of a national satellite distribution system that used a newly approved domestic satellite transmission. Satellites changed the business dramatically, paving the way for the huge growth of thematic program networks that would take place during the 80s.
In the 80s the Cable Act established a more favorable regulatory framework for the industry, stimulating investment in cable plant and programming on an unprecedented level. During the decade the industry spent more than $15 billion on the wiring of America, and billions more on program development.
During the 80s all kind of cable program networks started to spring one after the other; Nickelodeon (1979), ESPN (1979), CNN (1980), MTV (1981), Disney Channel (1983), A&E (1984), Discovery Channel (1985), FOX (1986), TNT (1988), Cartoon Networks (1992). By the end of the decade, nearly 53 million households subscribed to cable, and cable broadcast networks had increased from 28 in 1980 to 79 by 1989. In the 90s the growth would continue and by 1998, the number of national cable video networks had grown to 171.
So the millennials or Generation Y are the first ones who grew up in a world with a television which allowed them to choose from a wide variety of quality programming according to their favorite subjects; science, movies, cartoons, sports, news, etc.
|CAMCORDERS: At the beginning video cameras (unlike movie cameras, that record the images on film) were developed for use in television studios. These cameras were very large devices, divided in two sections. The camera section held the lens and tube pre-amps and other necessary electronics, and was connected with a cable to the recording section of the camera, usually mounted in a rack in a separate room or a truck. This established the standard operation in the field of a two person news crew, one operating the camera, and one the recorder.
By the 70s thanks to miniaturization, out-of-studio video recording was made possible by means of compact video cameras and portable video recorders. Thus, the recording unit could be detached from the camera and carried to a shooting location.
However it was not until the 80s that the first cameras with an on-board recorder were brought to the market. Moreover since then, anyone could afford a videocamera, so just like in the case of other technologies, this was another one that became available to non-professionals.
In 1982 Sony released the Betacam system with a single camera-recorder unit, improving the freedom of a cameraman and soon becoming the the standard for both news-gathering and in-studio video editing.
In 1983 Sony released the first consumer camcorder—the Betamovie BMC-100P which could not be held just with a hand and should rest on a shoulder. Meanwhile JVC released the first camcorder based on VHS-C format. In 1985 Sony released its own compact video cassette format, the Video8.
In 1985, Panasonic, RCA, and Hitachi started producing videocameras that could record directly to VHS cassettes. These ones became the favorites of video professionals and students.
During the second half of the 80s the miniaturization process would take place as well as the introduction of digital cameras. In the 90s the DV format was introduced and by the 2003 the first tapeless camcorder would be introduced to the market by Sony.
But it was not until the 80s that this technology was available to everyone, they could shoot whatever they wanted and connect it immediately to a VCR and see the results on a TV set.
Now people could build their own mini-studio just with a camcorder, a VCR and a TV.
So camcorders is one more thing that millennials take for granted, since they grew up with the existence of them, with the possibility of owning one and even knowing how to use them since childhood.
|FAX MACHINES: Before the era of digital communications, Internet, email, chats, SMS, and messengers where we can contact anyone, no matter their location and send them whatever we want from a simple message to a whole movie file; there was a technology that just two decades ago was considered among the most top-notch one of the time, the FAX.
The history of the fax machine goes back over 160 years when Alexander Bain invented the first one in 1843; it consisted of two pens attached to pendulums connected by a telegraph wire. The pendulums passed over chemically treated paper and made stains when an electrical charge was sent down the telegraph wire. In 1860 Giovanni Caselli patented a “Pantelegraph” in France which eventually became the first commercial fax machine. Later in 1888 the American inventor, Elisha Gray patented a process whereby handwriting could be transmitted between distant points over a two-wire circuit. This was the first fax machine that used standard stationary paper.
Throughout the 20th century different technologies were developed around the facsimile using telegraphs, radios but they were all expensive, large and difficult to operate and limited large companies, organizations and government.
So it was not until the 80s that smaller, faster and easier to use fax machines were designed and they could be hooked up to existing telephone lines. They became so popular during the that decade that in the 70s there were around 50,000 fax machines in the United States; by the end of the 80s the number grew to over 4 million fax machines in use.
With a fax machine, people could send a sheet of paper to someone, anywhere, complete with a signature, in a matter of seconds. There was a Fax mania and people faxed almost everything; from ads and brochures to lunch orders, personal letters and legal documents once they were signed.
Now they have been largely replaced by new digital Internet related technologies, but during the 80s and the 90s they were the most used medium to transmit images and documents.
|ANSWERING MACHINES: The 80s saw also the answering machine boom, prior to that they were already but you had to rent an them from the phone company and have it installed; moreover they were expensive.
But after the communications deregulation in the United States and the breakup of AT&T the were made affordable to everyone and they could buy an answering machine and plug it right in.
The machine had two cassette tape decks, one for the answering message and one to record all the incoming calls. A microprocessor controlled everything so that you could listen to your messages, skip from one to the next and erase them. The two-cassette model then got simplified to a single cassette, and eventually the whole thing was simplified even more by using computer memory.
Soon after that manufacturers started producing cheap machines and the answering machines boom had just begun.
By the mid 80s everyone had an answering machine and it also established new social habits and popular phrases like: leave your message after the beep.
|CORDLESS TELEPHONES: Just a few years before the boom of cell phones cordless telephones had their chance, and indeed became a sort of fad.
Teri Pall, a jazz musician, invented the first version of the cordless phone in 1965 but could not market her invention because its two-mile range caused radio signals to interfere with aircraft; so she sold her rights to the cordless phone in 1968 to a manufacturer who modified it for practical use.
Meanwhile in 1966 George Sweigert, an amateur radio operator and inventor from Cleveland, Ohio submitted a patent application for a full duplex wireless communications appartus. He proposed directly coupling consumer electronics, including his invention to the AT&T-owned telephone lines, but this wasn't possible until the 80s when the communication deregulation and AT&T breakup took place.
Theses phones used the standard 27 MHz and 49MHz frequencies that walkie-talkies and baby monitors use. Its functionality was similar to that of walkie-talkies, actually it was like the combination of two walkie-talkies in a case. One handled your voice, while the other handled the voice of the caller.
Due to the frequencies they used they worked on short distances causing also a enough interference to have your calls listened by your neighbors.
These devices became so popular most probably because you could get rid of the cord and walk around the house while talking on the phone and if you were lucky enough even get outside to the front porch and show off to your neighbors.
|CELL PHONES: Maybe nowadays it is hard to imagine a time when people did not have a cell phone and the ability to make an instant phone call; a time when people were just disconnected.
Since the 60s just a few had in-car radio phones. They had a big 25 watt radio transmitter/receiver in the trunk, and a handset inside the car. But they were incredibly expensive and only rich people or businessmen required or could afford one.
In 1956 the first automatic mobile phone system, called MTA (Mobile Telephone system A), was developed by Ericsson and commercially released in Sweden; it had a weight of 40 kg (90 lb) but later was improved by the MTB with a weight of 9 kg (20 lb). However it was not popular since by the time it shut down in 1983 it just had 600 users. The first person in the United kingdom to have a mobile phone in the car was Prince Philip in 1957.
The origin of modern non-vehicular cell phone can be traced back in 1973 when a Motorola researcher and executive, Martin Cooper, the inventor of the first practical mobile phone for hand-held use, after a long race against Bell Labs for the first portable mobile phone, made the first call on a hand-held mobile phone on April 3, 1973 to his rival, Dr. Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs.
The idea behind the cell phone technology was that a city was break up into many small cells. Each cell would have a tower holding the antennas, and that tower would be able to transmit only two or three miles. Inside each cell there would be about 100 different radio frequencies in use, allowing about 50 simultaneous calls. Then, those frequencies could be reused in cells across the city by spacing things out properly. The system had huge capacity compared to the radio telephone system. Instead of one tower with four channels serving a 40-mile radius, this new technology offered dozens of cells in a city with 50 callers in each cell. Since the towers were always just a mile or two away, the phone could get by with a one-watt transmitter.
The first commercially automated cellular network (the 1G generation) was launched in Japan in 1979, in the metropolitan area of Tokyo. By the mid-80s the network had been expanded to cover all of Japan, becoming the first nation-wide 1G network.
In 1981, it was followed by Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, becoming the first mobile phone network featuring international roaming. The first 1G network in the USA was Chicago based Ameritech in 1983 using the Motorola DynaTAC mobile phone. Several countries then followed in the early 1980s including the UK, Mexico and Canada.
At the beginning the system for a city was expensive, because companies had to build all those towers in each city. The first real, portable, battery-operated handheld cell phone was called the DynaTAC by Motorola with a $4,000 cost, it was as big as a brick (25.4 cm / 10 inches) and had a weight of 0.8 kilograms / 2lb. The cost per minute was a dollar or more. So it was mostly used rich people who really needed the service, and could afford it. So back in the early 1980s, if you saw someone using such a handheld "brick" cell phone, you knew you were seeing a "rich person".
But soon prices started to fall. However cities were isolated to each other, and it was not until prices fell dramatically and thousands started subscribing, nationwide roaming and free long distance became possible.
Later in the 90s and 2000s 2G (Second Generation) and 3G (Third Generation) were developed respectively, allowing digitalization of cell phone systems and turning them into what they are nowadays; handheld mini-computers that can be used to call people, surf on the net, send messages, download files, take photos or shoot videos, among other services; all in one plain, small and light device.
By 1990 12.4 million people worldwide had cellular subscriptions as of 2009 that number grew to over 4.6 billion, thus becoming one of the most widespread and fast growing technologies of the last 20 years worldwide.
This is another technology that grew up together with the millennials; who cannot almost remember, let alone imagine, a life without cell phones.
Continues in Part II
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