Site Loader

The Electronic Apocalypse          Electronics have revolutionized the way people have lived for the past five decades.  These devices are helpful in many ways. Personal computers significantly change people’s day to day lives because of their functionality. These computers have evolved remarkably considering when the first computer was invented, it weighed 30 tons and it took up 1500 square feet! Everytime it was turned on, the lights in surrounding towns would dim because it took up so much electricity.  In the 1980s, popular, newly released video games also took over. Games such as Pacman are still doing well today.  The 1980s were an era of electronics taking over society shown through the invention of the personal computer, the craze for videos games, and cyberpunk literature. The invention of the personal computer is one main reason electronic devices took over society in the 1980s. Computers were originally marketed for large organizations with money and used in data processing for scientists (Brave 2). In the early 1970s, computers were also being used by hobbyists. Computers were also used often for educational purposes.  These computers were much larger than those seen today, thus it was not easy to have your own. The price tag attached to them was large as well. Computers costed around $86,000 in the early ’70s (Trueman 2). Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak invented the first personal computer. Wozniak’s father was an engineer which helped the inventing process (Steve 1). Their first employee, Bill Fernandez, influenced Wozniak significantly which helped the success of the company.  In 1976 the brand Apple was founded by the three men. At the time, Jobs was only 21 and Wozniak was 26.  It was not until 1979 that the computer truly took over society.The personal computer grew rapidly throughout the late ’70s and ’80s. Apple released the first personal computer called the Apple II in 1979. This computer was “more than a passing fad” (Steve 4). Wozniak wanted to invent for the average person and he did just that.  The Apple II came pre-assembled in a plastic case ,which included a keyboard, and was priced at about $3,000 (Trueman 3). It also ran at one million hertz, which was fast for the time (Steve 3).  This computer was also able to fit in average sized rooms because of what it included. The Apple II included a micro-chip, which a normal computer previously did not have (Trueman 2). This inexpensive and futuristic device invaded homes throughout the 1980s. Everyone wanted to get their hands on one of these devices. The personal computer was presented as a friendly introduction to home computing. The Apple II could be used by anyone, which helped its popularity. Not long after the extreme success of the Apple II, the Sinclair zx80 personal computer was invented in March 1981 (Brave 2). This computer had many similar features to the Apple II, creating a now competitive market for the PC. A few months following the Sinclair zx80, IBM also created their own version of the personal computer in August of 1981, generating even more of a hype (Trueman 3). The personal computer continued to take over society because of the convenience and how easy it was to use.Improvements to the personal computer started to upgrade the quality further. The word processor was invented by Alan Sugar. The word processor is a computer software application that helps create, edit, and print out documents. This was revolutionary because now the spread of information was considerably easier. Another improvement invented was the program Visicalc. Dan Bricklin invented this program on an Apple II computer. It is an electronic computer calculator that is similar to a spreadsheet. After its first four years out, it had sold 700,000 copies. Bill Gates and Paul Allen began creating programs for the computer in 1975. Their most famous program they invented was Microsoft . They created this program with an IBM personal computer. Microsoft helped the personal computer gain success because of the things it could do (Trueman 3). The personal computer was greatly publicized by the british government, which also helped spread this new technology (Brave 5). The personal computer had several extra features that made it even more popular.The personal computer was an extremely successful invention in the 1980s. In the beginning of the ’80s, one million personal computers had been sold. By the middle of the same decade, 30 million had been sold (Trueman 1). The millions of sales of the personal computer changed a multitude of people’s lives, and thus took over society. Another way electronics took over society was through the invention of computerized video games. Video games still have great popularity today and continue to take over many people’s everyday lives. The first version of a machine game was released in the 1930s. This game is pinball. Pinball is a simple game, the player shoots metal balls in the machine to hit different targets and rack up as many points as possible. It was a game of skill and not luck. It was not until the early ’60s that video games were accessible to the average person. The first computer game ever created was Tic-Tac-Toe made by A.S. Douglas (Transformation 3). Prior to the 1980s, a few games were released such as Pong. Pong, which was released in the mid-70s by the leading game company at the time, Atari, was a simple game that made people begin to think computers could be for fun. Atari had been the leader of video games up until the invention of one of the most successful and long running games of all time, Pacman (James 1). This game changed the video game market forever because of its immense fame and success.Pacman is a game that truly transformed society. Tohru Iwatani supposedly was eating pizza one night and his pepperoni was shaped like the main Pacman character, and that is what inspired him to create it (Routledge 4). In 1980, Pacman came out in Japan. There is a Japanese version as well as an American version (James 1). Namco is the original brand of Pacman, but it was licensed for the United States by Midway. Pacman, originally called Puckman, is a very straightforward game (Routledge 5). The game’s objective is to “eat” as many of the small dots or pellets as possible to get points. Although it has a simple and easy to follow plot, people were absolutely obsessed. To this day, there are still many die-heart fans. Video games around this time often involved violence, such as shooting or racing (Transformation 9). Pacman did not involve any violence which also helped contribute to the success of it. Although Pacman is a super complicated game, it was not until 1999 that a perfect score was achieved (Routledge 5). The game has numerous levels and progressively gets more difficult. Pacman began taking over society further because “corner arcades” began to appear everywhere (Transformation 10). A corner arcade is a place where anyone could come and play video games. People became so obsessed with video gaming that these corner arcades were just about everywhere. Pacman was a complete sensation. It was obsessed upon for several reasons. A possible reason for the craze is because “gamers needed only one hand to play and could hold a drink in the other”(Larry Frum qtd. In “James” 1). The designs and sounds of the game were iconic for the era as well. (James 1). Due to the popularity of it, many merchandises formed from it (Routledge 5). In 1981, the game Ms. Pacman was released. It was very similar to the original Pacman. A song about Pacman came out in 1982. A Hanna-Barbera cartoon about Pacman was created and aired from 1982-1984, in the heat of the craze (James 2). There is still merchandise being created today, about four decades later.  Pacman created so much more than just a video game.The Pacman franchise also brought in many sales. For three decades Pacman was the game to beat (Routledge 5). Pacman has earned over 2.5 billion dollars in sales in quarters (James 1). It also sold more than 350,000 units. Because of Pacman’s extreme success, many other video game companies began to be created. New hardware was made to improve the quality of the video games. (Transformation 11).Video games took over hundreds of people’s lives because of how entertaining they were. Pacman started an era that has overtaken society and will forever have a lasting impact. The third way electronics took over society was through Cyberpunk Literature. In the 1940s and 1950s, there were roots of Cyberpunk Literature, but the movement did not become relevant until the 1980s. In 1982 the word Cyberpunk was created by Bruce Bethke, a major figure of the literary movement (Cyberpunk 1). During the ’80s, futuristic electronics were taking over society due to the high press about them. Cyberpunk literature helped excel the rate of the electronic invasion the ’80s had been a victim of. Cyberpunk Literature aided electronics taking over in several ways. Cyberpunk Literature is a science fiction subgenre that creates a dehumanized, high tech future (Cyberpunk 1). This literary movement creates a futuristic way of life. The books and movies during this decade represent this perfect computerized world as portrayed by the authors and directors. Cyberpunk Literature happened in the midst of a “digital revolution”, with many new and modern technology being invented. The invention of the personal computer helped this movement because it helped transmit new information and construct ideas for this new literature. The rate of technology changing in the ’80s was rapid, and so was this movement. Many people referred to Cyberpunk as “talismanic” meaning magical (Maddox 2). The movement introduced a modern utopia society that was never seen or heard of before. Science fiction is a large genre with several subgenres, one of them being Cyberpunk Literature. At the time, science fiction was known as a literary ghetto. Science fiction was often sneered at because some said it was boring, or too complex for the average people to understand.  It’s subgenre, Cyberpunk Literature became a new way of science fiction (Maddox 1). Cyberpunk literature is considered to have the most powerful influence on the science fiction genre (Johnnie 7). It brought some light to a previously poorly thought of genre. The word Cyberpunk came from the word, cybernetics. Cybernetics is replacing human functions with computerized ones (Cyberpunk 1). The protagonists of Cyberpunk Literature include hackers, rockers, and cultural rebels. They adhere to mass conformity and corporate control which was a prevalent issue. Mass conformity and the amount of corporate control going on was becoming excessive. Cyberpunk Literature created a new perspective on technology. It spawned a new vision of dehumanized utopias controlled by electronics and corporate power. During the Cyberpunk Literary movement, there are some important writers and directors that helped contribute significantly. One imperative person is William Gibson. He wrote the well known novel, “Neuromancer”. Neuromancer is a novel about cyberspace and how computers are connecting everything together. This book was a hit, people everywhere knew about it and were now interested in Cyberpunk Literature (Cyberpunk 1). “Neuromancer” was the first novel to win the Hugo award, Philip K. Dick award, and the Nebula (Maddox 1). Other important writers include Bruce Sterling, Rudy Rucker, and Pat Cadigan. Bruce Sterling wrote the famous novel “Mirrorshades” which is a Cyberpunk centered book. Sterling saw a gap between “hard science and cultural studies” and realized tech culture was getting out of hand at an alarming rate (Johnnie 2). Ridely Scott’s film “Blade Runner” also contributed to the spread of Cyberpunk Literature. “Blade Runner” is a movie about a dystopian city (Maddox 2). These authors and movie creators played a large role in the fad of Cyberpunk Literature. They opened up a world of futuristic, white marble worlds to those who had never heard of such a thing. These Cyberpunk books and films of the decade all built off of human identity breaking down because of electronic overload.

Post Author: admin


I'm Russell!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out