On January 7th, 1982, Commodore International, located in Las Vegas, announced the release for sale, its home computer – the Commodore 64. It became the all-time best-selling single personal computer model; it costs just $595. However, the purchase of "peripherals," equipment to be used in conjunction with a computer without being an integral or necessary part of it, drove up the cost. There could be had: a monitor, an external floppy drive, and the 7-pin dot matrix printer. The total cost for all of these items, plus the C64 itself, ran about $1,500 (a considerable sum for an average person, in those days). Though the RAM and the ROM became larger and larger during the ensuing decade, the Commodore 64's end did come; in 1994 it was discontinued. We should add that later in 1982, Compaq released its home computer, compatible with IBM's PC, the 5100. The 5100 was brought out 1975, likely the first personal computer (outside of the kits, like Altair). But, the problem was, the price of IBM's PC, at around $15,000, was beyond the reach of most non-business persons.
Close to home: Disaster unfolded. In February of 1982, the oil platform, Ocean Ranger, sunk during a storm off the coast of Newfoundland, killing all 84 rig workers aboard. Ocean Ranger reported experiencing seas with 60 foot waves, that, together with 100-knot winds; but, it seemed to be weathering the storm. Early the next morning a Mayday call was sent out advising it had a severe list to the port and requesting immediate assistance. Within an hour and half, though auxiliary boats and rescue helicopters were on their way, Ocean Ranger transmitted its last message: "There will be no further radio communications from the Ocean Ranger. We are going to lifeboat stations." Shortly thereafter, in the middle of the night and in the midst of severe winter weather, the crew abandoned the rig. The rig remained afloat for another ninety minutes, sinking between 03:07 and 03:13 hours local time. Her entire crew of 84 workers, consisting of 46 Mobil employees and 38 contractors – were killed. There were two other rigs in the area, but they managed to weather the storm. This same storm system also sunk a Soviet container ship which was caught in the storm 35 miles to the east of the Ocean Ranger, the ship went down with the loss of 33 lives.
In Canada, while the country had a British feeling about it, a move towards showing its real colours as a republic was made. What its leaders felt was needed was a constitutional document, something similar to the Bill of Rights as existed in the United States. (Most of the political "leaders," then, as now, had little knowledge or appreciation of the nature of a constitution under common law.) At any rate, it was in 1982, that Royal Assent was given to the Canada Act. This was the vanguard. Thereafter, on April 17th, the Queen of England (should that not make one wonder, given the multi-national roots of Canada) graced us with her Proclamation that Canada was a sovereign nation and could do what it likes. Of course, the politicians were keen to have an American styled Bill of Rights and passed one before the year was out. (Incidentally, it was in 1982, that one of the official holidays, Dominion Day, was renamed Canada Day.)
In April of 1982, Argentina invaded and occupied British held territory, the Falkland Islands; an act which started the Falklands War. During this war, the nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror sinks the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano, killing 323 sailors. Other ships were lost as the weapons of a new age of war were deployed such as the Exocet missile. They included: HMS Sheffield, HMS Ardent, HMS Antelope and HMS Coventry. On May 21st, the British landed on the island much to the relief of the Falkland Islanders, who were all British. By June 14th, the war was over and a formal surrender made by the Argentine forces.
A frighting event also took place in this year: The "Chicago Tylenol Murders." Seven people in the Chicago area died after ingesting capsules laced with potassium cyanide. Somebody, right at the counter, unscrewed the tops of a number of Tylenol bottles and slipped in a few deadly pills. In the years that followed, it was not so easy to get at the contents of containers, as the manufacturers sealed medicine and food containers with a warning not to consume if the seal was broken.
The board game Trivial Pursuit was released in 1982. Northern Plastics of Elroy, Wisconsin, produced 30,000,000 games between 1983 and 1985. As of 2004, nearly 88 million games had been sold in 26 countries and 17 languages.
In the Summer of 1982 we brought our sail boat for her longest trip, in both time and distance. We took her, from Halifax, up the eastern coast of peninsular Nova Scotia to St Peter's (See Map). From there we went through the lock and entered the Bras'Dor, and on to the northern side, to arrive at Baddeck (Alexander Bell country). We left Halifax on the July 1st and returned July 28th.
Two fellow sailors from BYC -- in fact, who both had boats just like the "J & L," a Niagara 26 -- helped me run the boat up the coast straight through to Baddeck. We left Halifax 08:00 (Thursday) and, running pretty much downwind, we arrived St Peter's 11:30 -- 27.5 hours, underway. At Baddeck my two fellow sailors made their own way home. Throughout the month, contingents of my family, in turn, joined Louise and I sailing in and around Baddeck (all of this is in a journal that I kept; it is a hard covered, red entitled "Yacht Log"). (Don't forget to visit The Pictures.)
There are but three movies worth referring to: E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, starring Drew Barrymore. Vying for the best, is Sophie's Choice. It is the story of a Polish immigrant. It starred Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline. Her performance won Streep the Academy Award for Best Actress. Sophie's Choice was nominated for Best Cinematography, Costume Design, Best Music, and Best Writing. The movie that has stuck with me was Das Boot, a German movie released in America, in 1982. Want to know what it was like living in a submarine during the Second World War - go watch Das Boot.
On the music front, it is to be noted that it was in 1982 that compact discs (CDs) made their first appearance. In the earlier years, as a boy I remember records, which were hard and breakable, the 78s. Then came the vinyls, the 45s and the LPs. Audiophiles and radio stations through these years used reel to reel magnetic tape; hardly could they be called portable rigs. The four- and eight-track cartridges came along in the mid-60s and grew in popularity during the 70s. It got a hold of the market through automobiles. In the mid-60s, the Ford Motor Company installed eight-track cartridges players in the Mustang, Thunderbird, and Lincoln. Soon there were small players available for the home. Eight-track players had their problems (see ahead) but the format gained steady popularity because of its convenience and portability. Consumers started to switch from vinyl records. Releases on eight-track began to arrive within a month of the vinyl release. Eight-track players fell off in popularity in the late 1970s, and the demand dropped off greatly as CDs took over.
The reasons for the eight-track format's decline? Fidelity suffered, on account of the sliding tape pack; there was a tendency for the magnetic tape in the cartridge to jam; a particular problem arose if the cartridge was left plugged; and the head, due to its design, would come out of alignment. The cassette got around certain of these problems, and had the convenience of a rewind function. However, it also had disadvantages as its tape speed was half that of the eight-track system producing lower sound quality (probably undetectable by the average person); and the cassette player was of greater mechanical complexity, adding to its cost and difficulty to fix. However, with increased sales and increased production (and, of course, competition) cost and complexity was lowered; it became a widespread high-fidelity medium and, within a few years, eight-track cartridges disappeared from the market.
Of course, when the CDs came along, the cassette went the way of the eight-track system. On October 1st, 1982, Sony brought the first consumer compact disc (CD) player (model CDP-101).
"Sony’s player, which retailed for about $674 at 1982 exchange rates (that’s roughly $1609 in 2012 dollars), launched alongside a group of 50 classical and pop CDs published by CBS Records. Names like Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Schubert shared the bill with more modern artists such as Billy Joel, Pink Floyd, and Journey. Each disc cost $14 or $15.25 apiece (about $33 to $36 in 2012 dollars), with the classical discs on the high end." (http://www.techhive.com/article/2010810/the-cd-player-turns-30.html)This brings us up to 1982, the year under review. The future would see the MP3s and the Walkmans. Then the streaming digital. But, we leave this topic, for now.
As for the musical hits of 1982: I Love Rock N Roll by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, Jack & Diane by John Cougar, Chariots of Fire by Vangelis, Rosanna by Toto Always On My Mind by Willie Nelson, Only the Lonely by The Motels Eye In the Sky by Alan Parsons Project, and Even the Nights Are Better, Air Supply.
Oh Yes! On November 18th I conveyed our Condo at Halifax, 46 Braemar, to Louise.
NEXT: [Chapter Thirty-Four: Birth of Nicolas, 1983]