19 November 2011

Flash Back 1984 - What Happened?

by Diane Carlisle

In the summer of 1984 I worked in an ice cream parlor. Times were as bad, if not a little worse than today, but as teenagers back then, we didn't worry about our futures. It wasn't beneath us to work in fast food or customer service. I served chili dogs and soft serve ice cream. I even made milkshakes in those mixers that always spun the glob of ice cream to the top, splattering milk all over the place. But I was happy to collect my $52.00 paycheck at the end of the week.

I applied for student loans and attended Coastal Carolina Community College to try and better myself so I wouldn’t have to work in the fast food business for the rest of my life. I worked late at night at my mother’s restaurant and lounge. After “last call” I had one hour of cleanup and two hours all to myself to get my homework done.

The closest thing we had to console games was a downhill skiing game produced by Activision. A stick figure would move down a snow capped mountain in a pair of skis that resembled a perpendicular equal sign which, when manipulated by the controller, would turn slightly to the left and then the right in order to simulate the side to side motion you might imagine happening when someone is actually skiing down the side of a hill.

The most entertaining part of the game was when the skier would crash into a tree or a flagpole and the equal sign turned into what looked like a 'V', made to resemble a mangled set of skis. Game developers had to be creative with what they had back then.

Still, we'd get bored and head out to the local gaming arcade. Tempest, Asteroids and Galaga were much more entertaining, had better graphics and they only cost one token. By the way, a token back then wasn't $.25. You could stay in the arcade all night if you had a couple bucks. That was our entertainment and social outlet.

So what's the difference today? The unemployment numbers come out and we gasp. Our children are coming home from college with no jobs. Yet, in America, the obesity rate is skyrocketing and our economy is crashing to an all-time low.

Credit and technology is what happened.

Want that new console game that's coming out next month? It only costs $59.95 and you'll probably beat it in less time than I spent on a Friday night with friends at the arcade. I know arcades sound lame to kids today and who needs to be part of a social group when we have Facebook and Twitter? Work at Burger King? Fuck that. Our kids eat fast food, they don’t serve it. They'll just wait around until someone offers them a desk job where they can sit around all day and surf the internet.

Reflect a little. So tell me, what were you doing in 1984?


  1. Oh no, Desert! From the looks of your sunshine avatar, that was a good thing?


  2. 1984 I had 3 kids and a job that paid 85 cents a mnth more than my monthly expences. And you are right about kids today, they are a little bit spoiled, and expect too much. Kinda like Our parents probably thought we were.

    I lke this post very much.

    Cranky Old MAn

  3. Yea, I know. I sound like my father. :D

  4. I got married in 1984 and a year later had a baby so the rest of the 80's are a big blur to me.

  5. I was not long out of university and enjoying my first job as a COBOL programmer.

    Home computers were still an extreme rarity. I had one (home-built from a kit) which I used to write games. You certainly did have to use your imagination back then because the graphics available were so limited. The biggest challenge for me was programming that 2 MHz 8-bit processor to do clever things inside 32kB of memory. Happy days!

  6. Had my first baby in 1988!!! :)

    Botanist, my programming career started with RPG. I now thoroughly hate he green screen! You've given me a wonderful topic for another blog, so thank you!

    And thanks for stopping by, all. If I'm not having coffee in the morning and reading and conversing with you, I'm having a beer in the evening and doing it. Haha.

  7. I think that was my Freshman year in high school, actually. Loved Duran Duran and was being bullied. Lived through it, though, and went on to better things, for sure!

  8. They allowed you to work when you were six?

    In 1984, I worked at a radio station and a small supermarket and got my head together. I averaged working about 70 hours a week and decided that was stupid and went back to school at SUNY Plattsburgh for Political Science. I got a 3.91, which was more than the previous two semesters combined.

    My dad brought home our first VCR, a Panasonic with a tethered remote. The first thing I taped was the episode Magnum where he drove a power blue VW, just like the one I had (except mine wasn't a convertible).

    But my parents said the same stuff then about 1984 versus when they were about the same age and working. The good old days are always better when you look at them from 3 decades away.

    My daughter is going to the school of her dreams because she worked her ass off and she's gonna help make tomorrow's world better than today's. I'm good where I am.

  9. Duran, Duran! Had only one bully, got over it. Woot!!

    Chris, our first VCR was the BETAmax. ACK!!! Big mistake.

    My weakness was Boone's Farm Tickle Pink and Country Kwencher. :) Of course my parents thought I'd never be successful in my chosen career because I was too much of a social queen. lol

  10. Killer thing is, that VCR still works 27 years later. Meanwhile, we've probably been through six other VCRs and four DVD players that don't work. Go figure.

  11. Gosh, I don't think I can remember that far back :) It was four years after the Winter Olympics in the Lake Placid; I can remember all the celebration that went on after the US hockey team defeated the Soviet Union's team.

  12. Wow, I remember that. Figure skating became my dream back then. :)

  13. 1984: I got my first postcollege job- it was entry level. I wanted to live alone but couldn't afford it so I had a roommate. A couple years later I got a better job and moved into my own place.

    Notice so many "occupiers" are demanding high paying jobs and loan forgiveness...this post helps me realize why I feel so dang aggravated by the OWS thing! Golly, the American Dream takes work.

  14. Amen, Lynn! Both my kids are working. One is working in the kitchen at Boston Market and going to college at night, and the other is working at a local dry cleaners, part time because she's still in high school. It's not great pay, but they are proud to be working!

    Thanks for stopping by.


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