In 1975, jewelry designer Marvin Wernick accompanied a physician friend to an emergency and marveled when his friend applied thermotropic tape to a child’s forehead to take her temperature. Using this premise, he took a hollow glass shell and filled it with thermotropic liquid crystals. He then attached the glass shell to a ring so that when worn on the finger, the thermotropic material would change temperatures and color. Mood rings became very popular during the 1970’s and for a few years, were considered a serious piece of jewelry. The mood ring fad peaked in the late 1970’s and are now seen as an icon of the 1970’s culture.
As early as the late 1940’s, missile defense systems employed by the United States government and run off of large mainframe computers, resembled a video game in both appearance and internal design. A couple of years later, Charley Adama created a “bouncing ball” program at MIT. By the late 1950’s university students in various colleges in the United States were using university computers to write rudimentary interactive games including popular collegiate hits such as tic-tac-toe and Spacewar. These developments built the base that the 1980’s video game craze was founded on.
Methamphetamines, or crystal meth, creates paranoia and hallucinations and can lead to toxic psychosis. It is a psychoactive stimulant that can increase alertness, concentration, energy. It can induce euphoria and enhance self esteem. Given its activation of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, meth has a high potential for abuse and addiction – some addicts would choose death over abstinence from the drug. During the early 1990’s the use of crystal meth by high school students doubled.
It has one correct answer and forty three quintillion wrong ones. It can be solved in 25 seconds or less. Its inventor became the first self-made millionaire from the communist bloc. Rubik’s Cube, or Magic Cube as it was known in its native Hungary, was invented in 1974 but took it took several years before the craze hit and swept throughout America. In 30 years, over 300 million Rubik’s Cubes had been sold.
A zoot suit, or zuit suit, has high-waisted, wide-legged, tight-cuffed, pegged trousers, and a long knee-length coat with wide lapels and wide padded shoulders. It was popularized in the 1930’s but its extravagant nature triggered World War II riots known as the Zoot Suit Riots.
The Slinky or “Lazy Spring” toy has mesmerized children since the mid 1940’s. The helical spring toy stretches and then reforms itself using gravity and its own momentum. In its first sixty years, the Slinky company, lead by Betty James of Philadelphia, sold over 300 million units making the Slinky one of the most successful and highest selling toys of all time.
Silly Putty has been marketed under many names since it was invented – Thinking Putty, Bouncing Putty, Tricky Putty, Nutty Putty, and even Potty Putty. It rose to prominence in the 1950’s and became one of the most successful toys of the twentieth century. Its wartime discovery was pure accident.
A lava lamp (or Astro lamp as it was originally know), is a decorative light featuring various colored, oozing blobs of wax that rise and fall in a heated and lighted lamp. The lava lamp was invented by Englishman Edward Craven Walker in 1963 and grew in popularity during the 1960’s psychedelic craze.
The Roaring Twenties saw an odd but not new spectacle of “flagpole sitting”. Pole sitting is the act of sitting on a pole, typically a flagpole, for as long as possible. Sometimes a small platform is placed at the top of the pole but often the pole sitter rests upon the pole unassisted.
The CB radio was invented in 1945 by Al Gross, the inventor of the walkie-talkie, who later started the Citizens Radio Corporation. By 1960, the costs to produce the 23 channel radio came down enough that everyday Joes could afford to buy the radios. It became popular with small businesses and blue collar workers like carpenters, plumbers, and electricians who used the radio as a tool to communicate with coworkers. By 1973, it moved into the private sector and with the onset of the oil crisis, the CB Radio craze erupted.