My First Computer: Commodore 64

If you grew up in the ’80s, you saw some major advances in technology at home. You could play video games on your TV with Pong, which was followed by Atari and Intellivision. Microwave ovens were becoming more affordable and popular, so you could get hot food a lot faster. VCR’s came into existence. Now you could watch movies at home, commercial free, instead of having to go to the theater. Cable TV became available. You could watch movies on HBO commercial free, and you could tape them on your VCR. Not to mention, that you could watch your MTV.

One of the best advances was the home computers. You could play games on the computer, and could even create your own games. After graduating Junior High School, my parents bought me one of the most popular PC’s of the mid-80s – the Commodore 64.

I had my Commodore 64 hooked up to the TV. There were games that were in a cartridge format, just like Atari or Intellivision. The computer had a joystick that was similar to the Atari joystick.

But, you could also write code on the computer, using the BASIC 2.0 programming language. It was OK if you didn’t know how to program. There was a monthly Commodore 64 magazine called COMPUTE!’s Gazette which contained code for some games that you would type in line by line.

Today, you can download a game right to your phone, and are ready to play within minutes, if not seconds. But, with the Commodore, if you weren’t lucky enough to have the 5¼ inch floppy drive, you had to save and load the games from a cassette tape. You would type LOAD, then the game you wanted to play. The player would go through the whole tape until it got to the game/program you wanted. Luckily, there was a counter on the tape player. So after you saved a game/program, you had to make sure you wrote down the number where it started. So you could fast forward the tape until it got close to that number. Then you could load the game/program. It was still a cassette player, so it could take a long time to load.

Later on, we did get a floppy disk drive. But, it still took a while to load. So, if you didn’t want to wait too long for the cassette or disk, you could just plug in a game that you had on a cartridge. A couple of my favorites were Boulder Dash and Soccer. Here is a clip of several games from the Commodore 64:

Technology, has obviously come a long way. But, I still miss my Commodore 64.

Daily Trivia – 1/25/11

Question: Who earned Oscar nominations three straight years for The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, and The Natural?

Last Question: What hit song by Heart was co-written by Elton John’s lyricist Bernie Taupin?

Answer: These Dreams

Heart wrote most of their songs. But in 1985, they signed with Columbia Records and got help from some experienced songwriters. This was written by Bernie Taupin (Elton John’s lyricist) and Martin Page, and the song was first offered to Stevie Nicks, who turned it down. Around the same time, Taupin and Page also wrote “We Built This City,” which was a #1 hit for Starship.

This song was very different for Heart. They had a lot of hard rock songs, and this was a power ballad. Not only that, but Nancy Wilson, who normally played guitar with her sister Ann on vocals, was the lead singer for this song. The gamble payed off, as the song went to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Here are some other facts about the song from

– This song was dedicated (on the album) to Sharon Hess, a good friend of Nancy Wilson’s who died of Leukemia. Sharon’s sister, Shannon Hess-Terlop, shares the story:

“Sharon was a fan who had a custom, hand made blue acoustic guitar made for Nancy. It was her dying wish to meet Nancy, and give it to her. She did get her wish, and was able to spend several days in the recording studio with the band while they were working on this album. She died 4 weeks later, on Nancy’s birthday.

The reason for choosing that particular song for the dedication was simply because it was the only song on the album where Nancy sang lead vocals.

Nancy and Sharon became very close, bonded even during the time she was in California with Nancy. In Nancy’s words: Sharon was my “soulmate of the sea” When Sharon got very ill during her visit, and was unable to leave her hotel room, it was Nancy, and Scotty Olson (her then guitar roadie and later bandmate) who got her out of the hotel, and drove her to the hospital on the Presidio in San Francisco (Sharon was US Army).

Nancy later came back to visit Sharon in the hospital, when things were looking so very bleak, we thought she might not make it back home at all. This was the first time I met Nancy. When she arrived, after greeting my Mother and myself, she just went in to Sharon’s room, and climbed up on the bed and lay down beside her ( she was sleeping). That visit buoyed Sharon’s spirits so much, that to her doctor’s amazement, she was able to make the horrible trip home via military transport, and she died a few weeks later.”

– Nancy Wilson had a nasty cold when she recorded her vocals. The producer liked the raspiness in her voice, so they kept it. (thanks, Edward Pearce – Ashford, Kent, England, for all above)

– In 1985, MTV had been around for 4 years, and it was clear that music videos were very important. Along with “What About Love” and “Never,” this got a lot of airplay on MTV and introduced the band to a new audience.

Here is a Live version from 2002 in Heart’s hometown of Seattle:

Daily Trivia – 1/24/11

Question: What hit song by Heart was co-written by Elton John’s lyricist Bernie Taupin?

Last Question: On Dallas, Who shot J.R.?
A. Bobby Ewing
B. Kristin Shepard
C. Cliff Barnes
D. Maggie Simpson

Answer: B. Kristin Shepard

On March 21, 1980, the season-ending cliffhanger was born. In the final scene of the 1979–1980 season of Dallas, J. R. Ewing, played by Larry Hagman, was shot by an unknown individual.

Viewers had to wait all summer to see if J.R. would survive, and to find out who shot him. “Who Shot J.R.?” became THE catchphrase over the summer of 1980. The cliffhanger became more dramatic when viewers had to wait an additional two months to find out the answer to the famous question, as a strike by the Screen Actors’ Guild in July of 1980 caused the production of most new network shows to be delayed by eight weeks.

When the revealing episode, “Who Done It?”, was finally aired on November 21, 1980, it was the highest rated television episode in US history at the time. The person who pulled the trigger was Kristin Shepard (played by Mary Crosby). Kristin was J.R.’s scheming sister-in-law and mistress, who shot him in a fit of anger. J.R. didn’t press charges, as Kristin claimed she was pregnant with his child as a result of their affair.

Ever since this famous Dallas “event”, almost every television show now ends its season on a cliffhanger. One of my personal favorites was The Simpsons “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”, which was an homage to the Dallas episode. It turns out that the evil Mr. Burns was shot by the baby, Maggie Simpson, when the gun went off while he was struggling to steal a lollipop from her. Mr. Burns demanded that Maggie be arrested for the crime, but Chief Wiggum said that any jury in the world cannot convict a baby for any reasons whatsoever (with the possible exception of Texas). Marge said that the shooting must have been an accident. However, a final shot of Maggie’s shifting eyes and sucking her pacifier sounding like gunshots could suggest otherwise.

Hits of 1982 – Horrible and Great

On March 13, 2009, Stuck in the 80s released their Horrible Hits of 1982 Podcast (Episode 159). Here is their list:

10. Ebony and Ivory – Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
9. Hurt So Good – John Cougar
8. Waiting for a Girl Like You – Foreigner
7. Even the Nights Are Better – Air Supply
6. Love in the First Degree – Alabama
5. Blue Eyes – Elton John
4. Waiting on a Friend – The Rolling Stones
3. Young Turks – Rod Stewart
2. Hooked On America – Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
1. Gloria – Laura Branigan

You can see the top 100 hits from Billboard that year.

Here is my top 5 (or worst 5) of Horrible songs from that year.

5. Waiting for a Girl Like You – Foreigner

I love Foreigner, but this is one of my least favorite songs by them. It’s too slow, boring, and whiny.
People tend to trash “I Want to Know What Love Is”, but at least that song has a choir to lift things up a little. I definitely prefer their rock songs, such as “Juke Box Hero”, “Long, Long Way From Home”, and “Feels Liek the First Time”. They should stay away from ballads. The only exception is “With Heaven On Our Side”.

4. Harden My Heart – Quarterflash

This is one of the most overplayed ’80s songs out there. I’ve heard this song more in the past couple of years than I did during the entire ’80s decade! And it’s not even on my iPod! This may not have made the list if it were not so overplayed. This song is a little to slow for me, but not slow enough to be a good ballad. I can’t change the station fast enough when it comes on the radio.

3. Chariots of Fire – Vangelis

This instrumental was a humongous hit. It was alright, but I think I will punish it for being associated with one of the most boring and overrated movies of all time. The movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture, which proves my point. The song also won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. So I guess I’m supposed to love it, but what can I say?

2. Cool Night, Paul Davis

I do like a lot of Easy Listening music – in small doses – but I really can’t make it through this whole song. I think I would rather rock out to some “Chariots of Fire”.

1. Blue Eyes – Elton John

One of my least favorite Elton John tunes. I haven’t decided which was worse, this or “Nikita”. The ’80s was not a very good period for Elton. I like “I’m Still Standing” and “Healing Hands”. Other than that, his worst ’70s were still better than most of his ’80s songs.

“Blue Eyes” is too boring for me. It feels like it should have more emotion than it does.

Here is my top 5 songs from that year.

5. Always On My Mind, Willie Nelson

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Willie Nelson is one of my all-time favorites. He wrote some old time country songs, such as “Crazy” (made famous by Patsy Cline), he’s played with Aerosmith (or I should say Aerosmith has played with him), and he has even played Reggae.
But he had an incredible ballad with “Always On My Mind”. He put a lot of feeling into this song, and it shows. I never get sick of this one. I don’t think I ever heard a bad version of this song, but Willie has one of the best versions.

4. I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll – Joan Jett and The Blackhearts

One of the greatest women of rock of all time. At the time, Joan Jett and Pat Benatar were just about the only rocker women on the radio. And they were among the best out of anybody at the time.
“I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” delivers on its name – it is pure Rock ‘N’ Roll. Great music and great attitude.

3. Edge of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks

I like Fleetwood Mac, and I love Stevie Nicks. While “Stand Back” was one of her biggest hits, this is my favorite by her. Stevie has a unique and powerful voice, and she really rocks it in this song. It was great to see the song get a resurgence when it was featured in the Jack Black movie School of Rock.

2. Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

This was my favorite song when this came out. It really gets your blood pumping. If you played any sports, this song could get you ready for any game or match. When you hear the opening chords of the song, you know exactly what it is. “Weird Al” Yankovic’s parody of it – “Theme From Rocky XIII” – was even good. Actually, we are getting pretty close to having a Rocky XIII. I wonder if they would really use that as the theme song.

Survivor’s lead singer, Dave Bickler, was only around for the first album. The band continued to be successful after he left. Bickler is best known now for singing for the Real Men of Genius Bud Light TV and radio commercials.

1. Don’t Stop Believin’, Journey

There was a toss-up between this and “Open Arms”. While “Open Arms” pretty much set the standard for power ballads, “Don’t Stop Believin'” is one of my all time favorite songs, even after all these years. Everybody still gets into this song. And a new generation has even found it, as it became extremely popular from the television show Glee. Don’t Stop Believin’ this song will live on forever.

[twitter-follow screen_name=’returntothe80s’ show_count=’yes’ text_color=’00ccff’]

Daily Trivia – 1/21/11

Question: On Dallas, Who shot J.R.?
A. Bobby Ewing
B. Kristin Shepard
C. Cliff Barnes
D. Maggie Simpson

Last Question: What group scored top-10 hits with Lady (You Bring Me Up), Oh No, and Nightshift?

Answer: The Commodores

The Commodores had some huge hits in the 70′s. But they were also very successful in the early 80′s with hits such as “Oh No” and “Lady (You Bring Me Up)“.

In 1981, Lionel Richie sang “Endless Love” as a duet with Diana Ross. The result was a #1 hit. This encouraged Richie to go out on his own as a solo artist. After he left, the Commodores had one more big hit with “Nightshift”.

Here are my top 5 Commodores songs:

5. Brick House

4. Easy

3. Still

2. Nightshift

1. Lady (You Bring Me Up)

Please Help a Returnee

Hi Everybody, if you have not seen the Suggestions page recently, Karen is asking for help finding an ’80s toy. I have not been able to identify what it could be. Would somebody be able to help? Here is the question:

“I am trying to find a green monster that stood about 12-14″ high that my son (that is grown now) would NOT part with. This was in about 1985-86… It had NON bendable arms and legs sort of a harder plastic…It looked like there was slime running off of the arms and legs of it…I would like to find another and give it to him as a gift…Can you Please help me????”

Music Video of the Week – 1/19/11

With American Idol starting back up, this week’s videos feature two of the stars – First is Randy Jackson in all his spandex glory with Journey in “Girl Can’t Help It”. This song came off of Journey’s Raised on Radio album. Randy Jackson replaced bassist Ross Valory. A lot of people criticized Journey with this album, but I still love it.

And the second video is from Steven Tyler and Aerosmith with one of my favorite Aerosmith songs of the ’80s – “Love In An Elevator”. This song came off the great album Pump. It was the first of several singles released from the album. “Love In An Elevator” peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached #1 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

Here are the videos:

Girl Can’t Help It

Love In An Elevator