Rewind to 1980
1980 wasn’t just about shoulder pads and hairspray – the Olympics were held in Moscow (with 64 countries boycotting it, including the US) while in London the Iranian Embassy was stormed by the SAS after it was taken over by terrorists (well worth catching it on YouTube). Elsewhere, things were more peaceful, but no less exciting…
Game – Pac-Man
While Space Invaders and Asteroids were already popular, Pac-Man took the sci-fi out of gaming and replaced it with cutesy ghosts and a loveable hero who could be identified across an amusement hall. The game mechanic was simple but engaging, and thousands of games since have stood on its shoulders. A bona fide game-changer.
Album – AC/DC, Back in Black
A new era in disco and pop had dawned, but AC/DC were having none of it. For them, a band was about driving guitar riffs, big drum beats and screeching vocals. For guitarist Angus Young, it was also about wearing school uniform, but the less said about that, the better. To this day, there are few people who can hear You Shook Me All Night Long without reaching for an imaginary axe.
Movie – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
At the time, the sequel to the first Star Wars film got mixed reviews, but that didn’t put off sci-fi folk wanting to gorge themselves on more of Lucas and Co’s canny cinematic effects and memorable characters (we met Yoda in Empire Strikes Back). It didn’t deter anyone else, either, and became the highest grossing film of 1980.
TV – Dallas
Who shot JR? That was the question posed by CBS’s slick and sequinned Texan soap in March 1980. Thanks to a series break and an actors’ strike, no one would find out until November. But mass hysteria pervaded every workplace and home for the duration, and ‘I shot JR’ tees competed with Sue Ellen-style shoulder pads for top summer fashion.
Gadget – Game & Watch
The original Game & Watch – godfather of portable consoles and precursor to Nintendo’s DS – landed in 1980. As suggested by the name, the device announced the convergence of time-telling and game-playing abilities. The first editions had a single screen (the first dual-screen was 1982’s Donkey Kong), but they invented pocketable button mashing – and that’s good enough for us.
Computing – HP-85
It might be a bit of a stretch to accuse HP’s first Series 80 personal computer of being a laptop, but at the time this was as portable as computing got. It had a five-inch CRT display, a drive for tape cartridges and a built-in printer. While its 625kHz processor is laughable by today’s standards, it was comparatively powerful in its day.
Car – Audi Quattro
When the rules of rally car racing were changed to allow four-wheel drive, Audi wasted no time in developing the Quattro, which in turn wasted no time in trouncing every other car for the next two years. Better still, its Germanic no-nonsense design looked the business. Its enjoyed a recent boost in popularity thanks to Gene ‘fire up the Quattro’ Hunt from TV’s Ashes to Ashes.
Toy – Rubik's Cube
Erno Rubik's invention took the world by storm when it hit the shelves in 1980 and now over 350 million cubes have been sold worldwide. We all knew plenty of people who owned one, but few who'd solved one (without peeling off stickers or pulling it apart, that is).
CNN launched and pop music lost a couple of gems – Led Zep skinsman John ‘Bonzo’ Bonham and Joy Division’s inimitable Ian Curtis. Too depressing? Cheer yourself up with the thought that in 1980 computer hard disk storage sold for around £135,000 per gigabyte. Ouch.