It’s been 35 years since Clemson topped Nebraska to win its first (and only) football national championship, and a lot has changed since that 1981-82 season. America has jumped on the information superhighway, cellphones have gone from the size of backpacks to the baseball cards, the Kardashians have taken over the planet and Twitter has become a thing. Though the movie 'Back to the Future' was a few years away from being released when the Tigers won their title, the first commercially available DeLoreans were rolling out of the factory. So as Clemson attempts to win its second national title, let’s buckle up, set the controls for 1981 and take a ride back in time.
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Way before unlimited minutes
Roughly six months after Clemson beat Nebraska (22-15) in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1982, 'E.T.' phoned home. The rest of us, at that time, probably had to use a pay phone. The struggle was real, even for extraterrestrials.
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In 1981, IBM was the talk of the tech town when it introduced the state-of-the-art IBM 5150 PC. According to IBM’s website, 'It wasn't that long before the August 1981 debut of the IBM PC that an IBM computer often cost as much as $9 million and required an air-conditioned quarter-acre of space and 60 people to run and keep it loaded with instructions.' The 5150 did not need all that. It came equipped with a rocking 4.77-MHz Intel 8088 processor, 16 kB base memory and a PC-DOS operating system with a starting price of $1,565.
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The Reagan era begins
On Jan. 20, 1981, former actor Ronald Reagan was sworn into office as the 40th president in U.S. history. Only 69 days later, he would be shot by John Hinckley Jr. Reagan survived the assassination attempt. Notable events under his presidency included the freeing of 52 American hostages from Iran; the end of the Cold War with Russia; and the creation of 'Reaganomics.' Reagan would go on to win re-election and hold office until 1989.
The price of milk was ...
In 1981, the median income for an American household was $19,074 a year, and the ballpark cost of a house was around $83,000. The minimum wage jumped from $3.10 an hour to $3.35. A gallon of milk would set you back $2.22, while a dozen eggs cost 90 cents. A regular gallon of gas sold for $1.38.
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MTV was born
Believe it or not, there was a time when MTV actually featured music. In 1981, the Music Television channel was born and graced America with the revolutionary idea of broadcasting video versions of popular songs. The cable network aired its first video, 'Video Killed the Radio Star' by The Buggles, on Aug. 1, 1981.
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Movie fans raid theaters everywhere
Men rocking Members Only jackets and women sporting blouses with shoulder pads flocked to the theaters everywhere to watch archaeologist/adventurer Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford, brandish his whip and fend off Nazis in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' which was 1981's top grossing film of the year. Also popular on the silver screen at the time were 'Evil Dead,' 'Arthur,' 'Stripes' and the Oscar-winning 'Chariots of Fire.'
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Don’t you wish that you had Jessie’s girl?
In 1981, everyone was jealous of some guy named Jessie, thanks to Rick Springfield’s smash hit 'Jessie’s Girl.' However, the Grammy for Song of the Year went to Kim Carnes for 'Bette Davis Eyes,' which was also the Record of the Year. John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 'Double Fantasy' earned Album of the Year honors, while Sheena Easton was tabbed Best New Artist.
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Have a Coke and a smile
Clemson’s 1981 title-winning team was celebrated by Coca-Cola with a special commemorative 10-ounce bottle. The bowling pin-shaped bottle featured a Coke logo on the front and an orange Clemson Tigers paw underneath, with a caption that read, '1981 National Champions.' On the back of the bottle was a printout of Clemson’s schedule with the results from each game.