Posted on 12/12/2014

1980s: When technology shot to the stars

The 1980’s set the benchmark high from the get go. With the launch of the Space Shuttle, the team at NASA were orbiting their way to success and preparing for take off. If that wasn’t enough, Kodak were storming ahead with the release of the Camcorder, the very first of its kind.

The Space Shuttle

After the missions to the Moon in the late ’60s and early ’70s, NASA committed themselves to developing a new vehicle that could venture into space and return home safely. The ground breaking result was the Space Shuttle. The engineers designed it to be more than just vehicle for transportation; the Space Shuttle would become an orbiting scientific laboratory, designed to increase our understanding of the universe.

The first Space Shuttle launch was the Columbia in 1981. The mission lasted a little more than two days. The Columbia returned home safely and gave NASA valuable information about the design of the shuttle, allowing adjustments and improvements to be made.

Since the 1981 launch, there have been more than 130 Space Shuttle missions, and the program has inspired many to study science and dream of space exploration.

The Camcorder

The camcorder was first introduced by photo giants, Kodak, in 1984. The device contained both camera and recorder in one unit, hence its appropriately given name. Before this, the two components were completely separate instruments; they were also bulky and heavy to carry.

A year after Kodak introduced their product, Sony were on their tails and introduced the first HandyCam model. Video cameras were originally designed for broadcasting television images.

When camcorders were first put on the market they were large devices that required a person to support the bulk with their shoulder. Usually it was the right shoulder, but some cameras were designed for either left or right handed people.

Cabbage Patch Dolls

The Cabbage Patch Kids originally started as dolls called “Little People”, created by Xavier Roberts and inspired by Tennessee artisan, Martha Nelson.

The name change to Cabbage Patch Kids was instigated by Roger Schlaifer before he secured the worldwide licensing rights to “Little People”, and was the basis of the story co-authored in 1982 by him and his wife, Susanne Nance Schlaifer. An abbreviated version of the story was reproduced on every Cabbage Patch Kids product from 1983 onward.

The dolls attracted the attention of toy manufacturer Coleco, which began mass production in 1982. The Coleco Cabbage Patch Kids had large, round vinyl heads and soft fabric bodies.

Wilson Gunn