8 big things that are turning 40 years old in 2020

Happy birthday to the Rubik's Cube and the Yugo.

Hard to believe the Eighties are now four decades old. It seems like pop culture has been steadily mining the era for movies and music ever since.

The decade started with a bang. It was a new era of cable television, cheap cars and chicken sandwiches.

Let's take a look at some of the biggest pop-culture introductions of 1980. Wish them all a happy 40th birthday. Well, maybe not the Yugo.

1. Rubik's Cube

Erno Rubik, a professor at the College of Applied Science at Budapest University, invented his addictive puzzle game in 1974. The Ideal Toy Corporation licensed the product in 1980 and turned it into a worldwide sensation. Four decades later, a supergenius would solve it in 4.22 seconds

2. Big League Chew

The shredded bubble gum has ties to TV, believe it or not. Big League Chew was the invention of a pitcher and a bat boy for the Portland Mavericks, an independent minor-league baseball team. The owner of the franchise? Bing Russell, familiar TV star (Deputy Clem Foster on Bonanza) and father of Kurt Russell. Then, former MLB star Jim Bouton, who turned his baseball career into the sitcom Ball Four, brought the product to Wrigley as an alternative to chewing tobacco.

3. The cassingle

The cassette tape dates back to the 1960s. In 1980, however, some marketing guru thought, "What if we sold cassettes… but with way less music on them?" Enter the cassingle! British new-wave band Bow Wow Wow released the first ever cassette single for its tune "C·30 C·60 C·90 Go." The first American band to sell a cassingle was The Go-Go's, who followed the trend two years later with "Vacation."

4. Post-It Notes

It took 3M years to perfect the Post-It Note, not just as a product but as a brand. Brains at the Minnesota company first thought to put a loose adhesive on paper in 1974. The product was first test-marketed as "Press 'n Peel" in a handful of cities in 1977, but flopped. After changed the name to "Post-Its," sales picked up. In April 1980, the rebranded yellow pads we launched nationwide.

5. 24-Hour News

Ted Turner introduced his brainchild the Cable News Network on June 1, 1980. It was the first channel to offer 24-hour news coverage and the first all-news television channel in the United States. It opened its studios in Atlanta, in the former home of The World of Sid and Marty Krofft, a failed theme park based on the surreal children's television show creators.

6. McChicken Sandwich

The fast-food giant launched its poultry alternative to the burger in 1980. Three years later, McD's introduced the McNuggets. Nobody could predict that in four decades time, people would fight over Popeye's chicken sandwiches. 

7. The McKenzie Brothers

Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas created their stereotypical Canadian characters for SCTV (the Maple Leaf alternative to SNL) in 1980. Bob and Doug were the predecessors to Wayne and Garth. The comedy duo recorded a hit comedy album, The Great White North, which led to a Hollywood movie, Strange Brew, one of the great cult films of the decade.

8. The Yugo

Look, they can't all be winners. The Yugoslavian (now Serbian) automobile began production in 1980. It would take five years to reach American shores, where the subcompact immediately became a Cold War punchline. The tiny hatchbacks sold for about $4,000 — that's a tad over $12,000 in today's money.

 
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

19 Comments

Post a comment
gdporterfield 8 months ago
I like the McChicken and the cassingle begat the CD single.
jholton30062 8 months ago
#5 Some would argue that CNN is still operating in a bizarre fantasy world...
Impossible to tell, in a world overflowing with "reality" shows and
"sports entertainment".
dth1971 9 months ago
One thing that is also turning 40 in 1980: The launch of ShowBiz Pizza Place, a rival Chuck E. Cheese's pizza restaurant chain that would merge with CEC in the mid 1980's.
RobCertSDSCascap dth1971 9 months ago
Chuck E. Cheese was created by former Atari boss and Pong inveter Nolan Bushnell.
Always liked Showbiz better because they had more video games.
Amalthea 9 months ago
The only good use for a Yugo:

RobCertSDSCascap 9 months ago
#3 Don't remember seeing them anywhere but crane/claw machines.
In the early 90s.
RobCertSDSCascap 9 months ago
Cubic puzzles dominated toy sales throughout the 80s.
RobCertSDSCascap 9 months ago
#7- Were they ever funny???
#8- Go, Yugo, go!
No. I was driving A Crown Victoria back then.
Jayme RobCertSDSCascap 9 months ago
Were you a cop? Because you got to tell people who ask you if you are.
RobCertSDSCascap Jayme 9 months ago
Sorry, I am much closer to vigilante than cop!
..............and I was driving on Royal Crown. Not really.
Tempting though. Too bad I have been dry for more than 30 years.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?