As an 8-9 year old boy, my main interests were Showbiz Pizza on special occasions, the Transformers cartoon series (after school!) and MTV in 1984.
It’s common knowledge that many 30-something dudes are walking around now, still amazed at how awesome the Transformers toys and accompanying cartoon were. As someone that has never seen the new movies, perhaps I can relate this without too much dilution. Hell, even the toy commercials were really cool back then. Just seeing the overall design of everything from the futuristic-looking, multifaceted toys to the way the robots morphed (what was that sound?) into cars and airplanes on the animated series was nothing less than dumbfounding. Besides Lego blocks, Transformers was about as cool as it could get. There was just too much totally radical stuff going on, from home gaming systems (I went with the 2600 since my cousin had one that I got to play sometimes. Thanks Grandma D!) to Showbiz Pizza. I recommend seeing the documentary about the Rockafire Explosion if you haven’t viewed it yet.
1984: The Quickening
As for new video game systems, Atari started to lose the market pretty quickly once the NES was released. I of course wanted an Atari 7800 to upgrade from my 2600 (which I had many cartridges for, Berzerk and the Empire Strikes Back game were my favorites). However, most of my friends were getting a Nintendo Entertainment System, or were about to in a year or two. Because every kid should be able to play this at home:
That pretty much changed the veritable video game game. Eventually, once adventure games like the Legend of Zelda were released in gold cartridge form, it was a done deal. It’s impossible to say which system I feel more nostalgic for since the 2600 and NES were both classics and I gamed the hell out of them… but I probably got the most mileage out of the Nintendo. Although today, I find the idea of playing a bunch of old Atari 2600 games most appealing (something about mindless button mashing and entering initials for record scores seems like a wonderful excursion).
By this time, computer graphics were evolving beyond home gaming systems. Check out this sweet Japan computer graphics lab demo reel circa 1984:
Warning: contains crazy upbeat electro radness!
Did I mention Van Halen earlier? Oh yeah, radical awesome time! I first discovered Van Halen in 1984, while my grandma in the nearby city of Moline, IL would babysit my brother and I during the summer. We would hang out with one of my cousins and play with vintage jumbo size GI Joe action figures.
Grandma B’s house (which had an attic with a collection of old toys from past generations) was a great change up from living out in the country with no cable tv. While conducting super radical car races with vintage Matchbox toy cars…
…I’d be watching some MTV which seemed amazingly cool at the time, being out of the cultural loop somewhat (lived on a dirt and gravel road where Rural Route 3 divides corn fields and marshland near the Hennepin Canal and the Green River in western IL). While RR3 did have its perks (like 5 acres of land to explore), getting to hang out in a more urban area was much cooler since I had plenty of exposure to the great outdoors. Anyway, the video I saw most then since it was my cousin’s favorite was this:
Yeah, seeing that kind of ridiculousness every once in a while is not so bad, right? It’s pretty freakin entertaining in video form (& I admit, still a very catchy well-crafted tune).
While rock was getting pretty glossy and MTV’d, more and more punk bands were starting to trace new sounds in between the lines of metal, punk and whatever other genre seemed to make sense. DRI are still kicking around and blazing through shows, but they were still quite raw and viciously quick in 1984:
But perhaps not as quick as the Chrysler Laser, who’s logo stupendous logo is 80’s boiled down into a rad future of awesome. Not to mention, James Earl Jones making it sound that much more bad ass… “make it fast, give it fuel injected turbo power. we did.”
“Give it a brain. We did.” I have the feeling this is the car that Darth Vader would drive:
Who was perhaps even quicker than a Laser in 1984 was Michael Jordan. In his rookie season, he already had some amazing games and gained the nickname Air Jordan while his dunks from the freethrow line became legendary. His Airness’ first 40+ point game was vs the Spurs just 9 games into his pro career:
While I didn’t know much about basketball at that time, I did become a big Jordan fan and would have several friends over for something we called 21 battle ball in high school. Basketball was much bigger at the time than it is now. But anyway, watching one of the greatest athletes of all time in his rookie season was a great find (I am constantly amazed at the depth of excellence that is youtube).
I don’t have too many clear or delineated memories from 1984, just some snippets and general impressions… but I remember it as being a very fun time. Now all I have in my possession from that year (besides maybe some vinyl) is this beautiful sounding device: