Star Wars

Star Wars

When George Lucas spent $11 million to produce a little labor of love called Star Wars, he likely had high hopes for the ambitious science-fiction film. It is hard to imagine that he came even remotely close to envisioning the impact or success that the film would go on to achieve. In terms of box-office numbers, in terms of successful sequels (and prequels,) in terms of a massive marketing machine, in terms of astounding special effects, the film simply has few rivals. And if you were one of the first to stand in line in 1977, the first to see the text scroll up the screen, you likely remember the experience as if it were yesterday. Continue reading...

The Facts of Life

The Facts of Life

It all started with the 70s sitcom Diff'rent Strokes. When daughter Kimberly Drummond’s school’s housemother quit her job at Eastlake Academy the day before the campus play, disaster was imminent. Who would make the costumes? Edna Garrett, the Drummond’s maid, rises nobly to the occasion. In fact, she so impresses the school that Steven Bradley, the headmaster, asks her to be the new housemother permanently. With a fond farewell to Arnold, Willis, and Kimberly (who continued to go to Eastlake, even though she was seldom seen in this new spinoff), Mrs. G took her place in The Facts of Life, one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1980s. Continue reading...

Rainbow Brite

Rainbow Brite

Rainbow Brite had one goal in life – to bring color back to Rainbowland. Along with her friends, the Color Kids and the furry Sprite animals, a world of black and white stood no chance. Meanwhile, back in realityland, Rainbow Brite toys were quite popular in the 80s and spawned a sizable multimedia franchise that lasted well into the next century. Continue reading...

Back to the Future

Back to the Future

Every teenager knows that his or her parents must have been geeks when they were seventeen, but Back to the Future gave one teen a chance to see for himself. Directed and co-written by Robert Zemeckis (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Forrest Gump), this mid-80's time-traveling romp became the highest-grossing movie of the year, and it helped transition Michael J. Fox, then best known as orthodox conservative Alex P. Keaton on the popular sitcom Family Ties, into a genuine movie star. Continue reading...

Life Savers

Life Savers

Perhaps you once heard that Life Savers were invented because the famed candy maker’s daughter died after choking on a hard candy. You might also have heard that the hole in the middle is to prevent more deaths due to suffocation, thus the name Life Savers. It's a believable story, as are most urban legends, but it isn't true. Here is the real story behind this iconic candy that's been around for over 100 years. Continue reading...

Pong

Pong

Pong wasn't the first commercial video game but it sure was the most successful, ushering in the first generation of electronic arcade games. Developed by video game guru Nolan Bushnell, Pong became the foundation for Bushnell's legendary Atari company and ground zero for an industry about to explode. Continue reading...

Frisbee

Frisbee

The concept is simple, but the history of the iconic Frisbee is a bit more complicated. Throwing discs is a tradition that dates back centuries, one that eventually led to the plastic recreational toy that we've carried with us to parks and beaches and backyards and tossed with reckless abandon for over sixty years. Continue reading...

Clarissa Explains It All

Clarissa Explains It All

Sometimes your fevered imagination is correct and the characters on TV do talk back to you. It happened in every episode of the teen comedy series Clarissa Explains It All, one of Nickelodeon’s most popular kid shows in the 90s. Continue reading...