The year 1984 provided a boatload of technological achievement and geeky infamy. The media will revisit them one by one over the next 12 months, but here they are today, neatly alphabetized.
1. AT&T disintegrates: In 1974, Uncle Sam decided AT&T was a monopoly … 10 years later, Ma Bell’s empire was dismantled.
2. BETAMAX saved: The famous Supreme Court “Betamax case” was all set to go against movie watchers until Justice John Paul Stevens pulled two votes out the fire.
3. It’s a bouncing baby CISCO: Like many career couples, Len Bosack and Sandy Lerner decided their lives were incomplete without having a router company.
4. CRACKBERRY in motion: BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, which sounds like it should be the name of a geek boy band, was founded in the Canadian city of Waterloo, which sounds like it should be an ABBA song.
5. CRASHING a jet for science: Fitzhugh Fulton must have enjoyed his job of remote-control pilot as NASA conducted its “controlled” demonstration crash of a Boeing 720.
6. Neuromancer popularizes ‘CYBERSPACE’: William Gibson’s science-fiction classic won all kinds of awards … and also brought the word “cyberspace” into the lexicon.
7. Dude, you’re gonna be DELL: College student Michael Dell had the idea of selling computers directly to customers, much like his classmates might peddle pot out of their dorm rooms.
8. DISCMAN takes off: Two years after mass production of CDs commenced, Sony released the first portable CD player, the Discman. It was the size of four CD cases.
9. ABCs of DNA FINGERPRINTING: British researcher Alec Jeffreys stared at a batch of X-ray film and recognized a method for putting bad guys behind bars.
10. Your ELEPHONE’S ringing: Willy Wonka’s “last major invention (1984) was the Elephone, a telephone that works in an elevator,” says “Wikiality, The Truthiness Encyclopedia”.
11. Future of FACEBOOK: Mark Zuckerberg was born on May 14, 1984, to Karen and Edward Zuckerberg of Boca Raton, Fla.
12. FLASH memory: Fujio Masuoka, a Toshiba researcher, invented flash memory.
13. ‘Who you gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS’: A staple on “funniest movies ever” lists, “Ghostbusters” opened June 8 to great reviews.
14. Bernie GOETZ: Geek with a gun: Hero? Trigger-happy racist? Whatever your view, there’s no doubt Bernhard (“Subway Vigilante”) Goetz was a geek.
15. 2600 The HACKER Quarterly debuts: A friend calls it “the hacker’s Home & Garden.”
16. Hi to HASSIUM: Just don’t touch. A synthetic element (No. 108) was discovered by German scientists; it’s nasty stuff.
17. K250: ‘Isn’t she lovely’: That was Stevie Wonder expressing his man love for Ray Kurzweil and the Kurzweil K250, an electronic synthesizer he had asked for two years prior.
18. ‘Hello, I’m a MAC’: Two days after its now iconic TV commercial, dubbed “1984,” aired during the Super Bowl, Apple’s Macintosh went on sale.
19. MATHCOUNTS kicks spelling-bee backside: The first national MATHCOUNTS competition was held. 20. Go NTU: National Technological University was the first accredited “virtual” university. It beamed courses via satellite to the likes of IBM, HP and Motorola.
21. Voila! BB84 QUANTUM cryptography: Charles Bennett and Gilles Brassard developed the first quantum cryptography protocol.
22. ‘Looks like a ROBOTICIDE, captain’: On July 21 in Jackson, Mich., the nation’s first fatal robotics accident killed a 34-year-old diecast operator.
23. Out for a SPACE WALK: Shuttle Challenger astronaut Bruce McCandless became the first to fly in space with neither a craft nor lifeline.
24: ‘The TERMINATOR’: Now that’s network trouble: Kyle Reese: “Defense network computers. … Decided our fate in a microsecond: extermination.”
25. TRANSFORMERS grow up, too: That’s right, Hasbro’s robots in disguise have been more than meets the eye since 1984.