80's babble
August 24, 2006 3:34 AM   Subscribe

What were the buzzwords of the 1980's?

A friend is doing a pitch for an iconic early digital technology brand and is trying to pull together as many eighties buzzwords as possible and a general sense of the language used to talk about technology back in the day.... any suggestions would be, er, radical (see, I need some help here).
posted by brautigan to Writing & Language (53 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well PCs were "micros" - in the UK at least.
posted by rongorongo at 4:34 AM on August 24, 2006

48K of ram! WOW!
posted by tomble at 4:50 AM on August 24, 2006

Radical. Tubular. Psych!
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:53 AM on August 24, 2006

"Like oh my God, Becky. Look at her butt."
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:53 AM on August 24, 2006

"Totally excellent!"

And, whatever you do, add a distorted guitar chord at the end.
posted by qvantamon at 4:57 AM on August 24, 2006

Go rent Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Awesome, dude. Like, totally Awesome.
posted by filmgeek at 5:06 AM on August 24, 2006

Awesome. Awesome to the max.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:08 AM on August 24, 2006

Radical. Tubular. Psych!

I thought "cowabunga!"... but then I read the question. Deerrraillll! :)
posted by ed\26h at 5:09 AM on August 24, 2006

IBM compatible.
posted by rfs at 6:02 AM on August 24, 2006

Gag me with a spoon.
posted by jayder at 6:03 AM on August 24, 2006

Mr. Fusion to generate the 1.21 Gigawatts required to activate the Flux Capacitor and break the Time barrier
posted by Relly70 at 6:05 AM on August 24, 2006

This might sort of count, but some computers back then had a "Turbo" button to give the computer some extra juice! Or is that more early 90's?
posted by starman at 6:08 AM on August 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

"Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" was a popular tagline.

The Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 ushered in "Electric Pencil Modification", by way of semigraphics ".

If you didn't know what "GOSUB" meant, you obviously didn't know BASIC. Cool kids in those days, however, were writing programs in APL.
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:18 AM on August 24, 2006

5.25" floppy "diskettes"
posted by neilkod at 6:22 AM on August 24, 2006

Apple clones.
posted by box at 6:22 AM on August 24, 2006

Check out some of the old magazine ads for computers here.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 6:25 AM on August 24, 2006

posted by Leon at 6:28 AM on August 24, 2006

posted by keep it tight at 6:29 AM on August 24, 2006

"Like oh my God, Becky. Look at her butt."

I'm pretty sure that's from the '90s.

Computer stuff from the 80s:
* No hard drives
* Programs were stored on cartridges, files were saved on floppies.
* RAM and ROM were pretty much the concepts that mattered in intro-to-computer classes.
* Kids learned to control a turtle when they took programming.
* 321...Contact and other magazines included several-pages of code in BASIC that you could type in and save to your floppy, then run to play various simplistic games.
* "Hello World"
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:44 AM on August 24, 2006

Everything was shortened.

radical = rad
gnarley = gnar
wicked = wick
et cetera = etc ;)
posted by gfroese at 6:49 AM on August 24, 2006

Is "state of the art" 80s or 90s? I know my dad hated that phrase when everyone was saying it.
posted by witchstone at 6:55 AM on August 24, 2006

Where's the beef?!
posted by prodevel at 7:00 AM on August 24, 2006

Parallel Processing.
posted by spicynuts at 7:06 AM on August 24, 2006

Garbage in, garbage out.
posted by LarryC at 7:20 AM on August 24, 2006

check out 1000 bit, this has ads and manuals from the 1980's, so you should be able to get a sense of the commonly used buzzwords pretty quickly.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:28 AM on August 24, 2006

Game version may differ from screenshots
posted by randomination at 7:33 AM on August 24, 2006

Oh, and "Radical" is early 90's slang, rather than a buzzword. I'm keenly and unfortunately aware of this, since I work for a company with that in the title, and it's 15 years old. Had we been formed in the 80's we'd be called "MicroGen" or "CompuSoft" or some such. If the 2000's? God knows. "Sploink!" or something, probably.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:33 AM on August 24, 2006

The Computer History Museum has a totally awesome collection of scanned brochures from the era (and earlier ones too).

Aah, Random Access Memory (RAM) - those were the days where we had to spell it out, you know...
posted by O9scar at 7:46 AM on August 24, 2006

* No hard drives

But some of the times we had Winchesters.
posted by qvantamon at 7:48 AM on August 24, 2006

"What do you want, wicker?"
posted by sagwalla at 8:03 AM on August 24, 2006

posted by yerfatma at 8:33 AM on August 24, 2006

Software Superlatives -- Turbo, User Friendly
Printer Tech -- Dot Matrix, Daisy Wheel, Chain
Operating Systems -- CP/M, MP/M, PCDOS, TRSDOS, IRIX
Minicomputers -- Data General, DEC, Wang
Obscure Tech -- Core Memory, Bubble Memory, Paper Tape, Audio Cassette (for data storage), "expansion chassis"
Early 5 1/4" hard drives - "Winchester technology"
posted by nonliteral at 8:34 AM on August 24, 2006

posted by cellphone at 8:46 AM on August 24, 2006

"They pelted us with rocks and garbage"
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:05 AM on August 24, 2006

George Carlin had a monologue that should answer your question:


This is the language you will not be hearing tonight.

You will not hear me say: bottom line, game plan, role model, scenario, or hopefully. I will not kick back, mellow out, or be on a roll. I will not go for it and I will not check it out; I don't even know what it is. And when I leave here I definitely will not boogie.

I promise not to refer to anyone as a class act, a beautiful person or a happy camper. I will also not be saying "what a guy." And you will not hear me refer to anyone's lifestyle. If you want to know what a moronic word "lifestyle" is, all you have to do is realize that in a technical sense, Atilla the Hun had an active outdoor lifestyle.

I will also not be saying any cute things like "moi." And I will not use the French adverb "tre" to modify any English adjectives. Such as "tre awesome," "tre gnarly," "tre fabou," "tre intense," or "tre out-of-sight."

I will not say concept when I mean idea. I will not say impacted when I mean affected. There will be no hands-on state-of-the-art networking. We will not maximize, prioritize, or finalize...and we definitely will not interface.

There will also...there will also be no new-age lingo spoken here tonight. No support-group jargon from the human potential movement. For instance, I will not share anything with you. I will not relate to you and you will not identify with me. I will give you no input, and I will expect no feedback. This will not be a learning experience, nor will it be a growth period.

There'll be no sharing, no caring, no birthing, no bonding, no parenting, no nurturing. We will not establish a relationship, we will not have any meaningful dialogue and we definitely will not spend any quality time.

We will not be supportive of one another, so that we can get in touch with our feelings in order to feel good about ourselves.

And if you're one of those people who needs a little space...please...go the fuck outside.
posted by rentalkarma at 9:06 AM on August 24, 2006 [2 favorites]

IBM clone
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:25 AM on August 24, 2006

I love the powerglove. It's so bad!
posted by shepd at 9:26 AM on August 24, 2006


Also, I used to hate when people said "in a big way."
posted by chococat at 9:41 AM on August 24, 2006

Ferr Shur. I mean like totally.

Anything said in a voice to mimic Reagan.
posted by ilsa at 10:11 AM on August 24, 2006

Also: "leveraged buyouts" or LBO's, stagflation, Reagonomics, Ray-gun, Iran-Contra, Noriega, EST - and its lingo "get it"
posted by dbmcd at 10:33 AM on August 24, 2006

Grotty to the max. (As in gross.)
posted by Amizu at 10:43 AM on August 24, 2006

Hatsoff to rentalkarma for keying that in by hand. How do I know it's by hand?

Tres' obvious.
posted by baylink at 11:17 AM on August 24, 2006

I remember hearing WYSIWYG (/wiz´ee·wig/) a lot back then.
posted by son of sasquatch at 11:37 AM on August 24, 2006

what about master and slave, as in dual floppy drives?
posted by lester at 11:49 AM on August 24, 2006

Tape drive! My first TRS-80 ran programs off a cassette player...
posted by hsoltz at 12:08 PM on August 24, 2006

Lyrics to "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" and "Valley Girl", plus Wikipedia's Valspeak page
posted by kirkaracha at 12:28 PM on August 24, 2006

I remember "virtual reality" being used a lot in the UK, although perhaps that's more early 90s than 80s.
posted by greycap at 12:30 PM on August 24, 2006

Do none of you know the difference between a buzzword and slang? Jesus. It's like Spicoli's retard choir in here.

The '80s was when we first got corp speak in a big way. That meant "actualizing the potential" and "upselling." Handy references? The movie Wall Street ("Greed is good") and the Futurama where '80s Guy gets Bone-itis. Until then, focus on junk bonds, trickle-down econ, realistic CGA color, and verbing your nouns.
posted by klangklangston at 1:03 PM on August 24, 2006

80s Guy: OK, let's work on your execu-speak. I'm worried about "blank".
Fry: Don't you worry about "blank". Let me worry about "blank".
80s Guy: Good. I also would have accepted, "Blank? Blank?! You're not looking at the big picture!"

80s Guy: "I'll handle this Fry. You get back to the farm, shift some paradigms, revolutionize outside the box"
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:14 PM on August 24, 2006

Gopher, MUDs, FPU, PC, XT, AT, 80286, 80386, ADP (automated data processing), Adlib sound card, CGA, EGA, MCGA, VGA (bonus points for: Paradise and paperwhite VGA), fanfold paper, desktop publishing, Winchester, Amiga, Mondo 2000, Usenet, Fidonet, FOSSIL driver (Fido Opus Seadog Standard Interface Layer, booyah!), Kibo, BBS, MODEM, acoustic coupler, Centronics connector, B1ff, ARPANET, 8-bit, 16-bit, real mode, protected mode, TSR (terminate and stay resident), B: (B drive, the second floppy on your PC), Guru Meditation #XXXXXXXXX.XXXXXXX, assembly, assembler, slow phosphor, fast phosphor, flicker fixer, 40 column, 80 column, ASCII, ANSI, text files (or philes), 2600 hz, mouse, driver, virus, master boot record, SCSI, MFM, RLL, .arc, .zip, boot ROM, ATA, HardCard, wait states, interleave, cache, RLOGIN, XENIX, BSD, command line, batch process, interactive, SCSI terminators, dip switches, jumpers, autoexec.bat, config.sys, command.com, ISA, EISA, MCA, bus master, DMA, interupt, boot, bootstrap, Fastload cartridge, machine language, and more where that came from.
posted by NortonDC at 1:46 PM on August 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:20 PM on August 24, 2006

Perestroika. Glasnost. Fahrvergnügen. Not sure if they'll help out in a digital technology type of way, but they were definitely used (and overused) in the late 80s.
posted by Addlepated at 3:49 PM on August 24, 2006

It was impossible to spend any time in corporate America without hearing about quality circles.
posted by Wet Spot at 5:02 PM on August 24, 2006

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