10 extremely Eighties products introduced in 1982
Lordy, Lordy, look who's 40 — CD players, Diet Coke and Ms. Pac-Man!
It was a pretty awesome year for movies, music and television in 1982. Cheers, E.T., Thriller, Blade Runner, Tron, Tootsie, "Little Red Corvette," Knight Rider, Toto's "Africa," Captain Kirk yelling "KHAAAAN!" The sayings "I pity the fool" and "Just say no" both entered the vernacular. The Eighties fully became THE EIGHTIES that year.
There was also a lot of, well, stuff that year that made that decade one of the most fondly recalled in history.
Colas, action figures, sneakers, computers, scents…
Let's turn the clock back 40 years and take a look at 10 memorable introductions.
1. Bud Light
Originally branded Budweiser Light, this lo-cal quaff went with the shortened "Bud Light" two years later. The beer then introduced Spuds MacKenzie, the bull terrier who became a pop sensation. At the end of the decade, in 1989, Bud Light was battling Budweiser — literally — in Bud Bowl ads during the Super Bowl.
2. CD Players
The temporary death of vinyl began here. (Vinyl has had the last laugh. Well, until CDs become cool again?) When introduced, Compact Disc players were insanely expensive, upwards of a thousand bucks. They sold nevertheless. The Sony CDP-101, seen here, was the first commercially released CD player, hitting electronics shops in '82.
3. Commodore 64
For many Gen-Xers, the Commodore 64 was their first personal computer. It is said that between 12 and 17 million units were sold. The 64 stood for 64 kilobytes of RAM. We just typed that sentence on a computer with 16 gigabytes of RAM.
4. Diet Coke
The original wave of diet colas splashed into supermarkets in the Sixties. Pepsi had its Patio, which it quickly renamed Diet Pepsi. Coke offered up Tab. It would be another 15 years or so until Coca-Cola decided to just sell "Diet Coke." Which do you prefer?
5. Drakkar Noir
Ah, the smell of so many teenage dates. And college.
Image: Guy Laroche
6. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
Boomers had their G.I. Joe, the foot-tall "America's Movable Fighting Man" dolls introduced two decades earlier. Their kids would play with the far more fantastic miniatures, now dubbed "A Real American Hero." The Joes now had their adversaries, Cobra. The cartoon would follow a year later. The more you know…
Image: Sears / Hasbro
7. Ms. Pac-Man
The first sequel to the global sensation Pac-Man arrived in 1982 — and gave the yellow ghost-chomper a lover. Ms. Pac-Man improved on the game in every way — more warp tunnels, bouncing fruit, smart adversaries. It was a banner year for video games, the peak of the first wave of gaming. Also arriving in arcades and cartridges that year were Q*Bert, Pitfall, BurgerTime, Dig Dug, Zaxxon and so many more.
8. Nike Air Force 1
Sneaker freak culture arguably begins here. The Air Force 1s (yes, named after the President's plane) remain a coveted icon in basketball and fashion. It was that Velcro strap, you know?
9. Pepsi Free
Most know of Pepsi Free because of a moment in Back to the Future. Marty finds himself back in a diner in 1955. He asks for a "Pepsi Free." The disgruntled chef spits back, "If you wanna Pepsi, you're gonna pay for it." It still exists today, in a way. It's simple Caffeine Free Pepsi. But Pepsi Free just sounds cooler. Maybe too many people weren't paying.
Hot take: The banana is our favorite. There. We said it. Fight away. When the candy launched in '82, they came in banana, cherry, strawberry, orange, and lime flavors.
Blue Larry Blue: "I just drank a Bud Light. I'm happy as a lark. I'll never sing the blues again. Let's go dancing in the park. I'm so happy!"
(From an actual 1980s Bud Light radio commercial.)
While it was still a "thing" I attended a church party where they had several punch bowls with different kinds of soda pop. I do not like Coke or Pepsi (not judging others who do, it's just my preference) but I love root beer, and in the dim light I found it necessary to the young lady hovering over the drinks what was in the first punchbowl with brown liquid. She said "it's Coke, but it's Coke Free!" I said "then I don't want it, I don't like Coke" but she kept insisting "but it's Coke Free!" She just didn't get it that I hated the TASTE of Coke and didn't care whether it had calories or sugar in it (I suspect she bought too much and didn't want to have to take it all home is why she was being so pushy). I finally managed to get away from her and choose a different punchbowl, but I never did get around to telling the silly girl that "Coke Free" wasn't even a thing! :D
The last record I bought was in 1986, an old recording newly released. After that it was cassettes. I wasn't buying much music at that point, so maybe it was convenience rather than no more vinyl. Someone gave me CD at some point, I couldn't hear it until someone I knew got a boombox with CD player for Christmas, I think 1989.
I didn't get a CD player until 1997, a used and very cheap one. The cost of players was down by then, but I still hesitated over the cost of CDs. I used the CD clubs like Columbia House to get tye best deals from then on.
Nuclear Disarmament was also big in 1982.
I don't think I ever tried Pepsi Free. I did take the Pepsi challenge once, when I was in college (in the early 80's.) 🥤🥤
I have to take issue with this comment. "More fantastic miniatures"?!
I much prefer the bigger GI Joe's with the "real-feel" hair and beard. They were more fun to play with and maneuver as well. It was like you had your own little mini soldier with you, not some little plastic toy.
And I still use Drakkar Noir lol
Don't recall Pepsi's Patio, but Royal Crown's diet version was called "Diet Rite" (recently re-watched Nancy Sinatra's "Movin' With Nancy" special from 1967 which was sponsored by RC).