Cars and computer games…in the olden days, kids

Over the course of their childhood, my kids will of course ask me a countless number of questions.  Being boys, I can be certain of two of those questions at least. “What cars did you have when you were young?” and, “what games did they have on the computer when you were a kid?”

An eternity ago.  Back in the olden days, as it were.  I’m not looking forward to answering these sorts of questions as I know they’ll look at me like I’m some sort of ancient artifact.  Which I guess in their minds I will be.  Shudder.

Our boys are too young for computer games yet, and we’re going to avoid introducing them for as long as possible.  But recently I had a conversation with a friend who has older kids.  We were discussing what games they played, whether they were PC or handheld, if a Wii’s good or bad thing, how long they get to play for, etc.  Aside from seeing Rebecca Gibney prancing about on a Wii ad and knowing such a thing called ”Wii-fit” exists, I really have no clue about what games kids play.

It got me reflecting back to what was around when I was a kid.  Not much obviously, being the 1980’s and early 90’s.  I turned 18 in 1994, and wasn’t interested in computer games after then.  But I do have fond memories of a few entertaining pieces…what’s now considered retro technology. 

My earliest memory was of my Dad bringing home an Apple IIe computer, either in ’83 or ’84.  This was a momentus day.  I know it cost my parents a small fortune and they couldn’t afford it.  But my Dad, being the splurger that he is (bless him) wanted us to have a computer.  I remember being intrigued by all these boxes with a cute-looking apple logo on them…and soon discovered the joys of this green and black screen:

How I loved Pacman!  What an awesome game.  I’m still scared to download the Pacman app on my iPhone.  As for the Apple IIe, I think it’s still stashed somewhere under my parents’ house (Dad’s a splurger and a hoarder).

Around this time one of these phones turned up at our house, thanks to Telecom (remember them?)  It had…BUTTONS! 

And this new technology came at a perfect time for me – suddenly it was so much faster to dial my friends houses to chat endlessly about our boy crushes.  Loved it.

My next fond memory is of my Nintendo Game & Watch.  I’d clean forgot the name of this device so Googled it and there it was!  Turtle Bridge.  I used to sit on the lounge room floor and play it for what must have been hours. 

Although one day, in a moment of frustration, when the screen looked something like this…

…I squished the screen so hard with my fingers in fury that the little black figures & turtles merged, becoming one big inky mess.  Thus spelled the end of my love affair with Turtle Bridge.  Never did get another one.  And as for one of those double screen ones, like Donkey Kong?  Way out of budget (I think we were still paying off the loan on the Apple IIe).

After a while though, some time in the early 90’s came Sega, and we got a Sega Master System II:

I had brief interaction with the blue hedgehog, and Super Mario Bros.  But then my interest in computer games pretty much came to a close…

So let’s move onto cars.  The first car I ever remember sitting in was my parents’ Holden Torana, circa 1979.  The downside was ours had a beige, non-metallic paint job and brown vinyl seats.  Clearly daggy, obvious even to me at such a young age.  And those vinyl seats used to get so hot in summer they literally burnt your legs. 

The upside was that it had a 6-cylinder engine, and I remember Dad thinking it was a pretty hot car at the time. 

I wasn’t convinced.

During the Torana years my Dad brought home a battered VW Golf one day, buying it from a friend for around $500.  Lime green, just like this one. 

It was the only time we were a two-car family.  But this didn’t last long, as Dad was a bit of a hoon on the roads in the mid-80’s, and subsequently wrote the VW off.

A real shame at the time, as despite its colour it was a great little car.  I had fun being driven around in it, even though on more than one occasion seriously thought I was going to die.

Once the Torana packed it in, we all went car shopping and got a second-hand Mazda 626 (our cars were always second-hand).  It was a 1981 model and was the same colour as the one in this photo, except it had four doors

Niiiice.  A major step up after the Torana.  It had velvety blue velour seats, retractable seatbelts…and the back seat folded down!  OMG!  It didn’t have a cassette deck, though – huge disappointment for me at the time – but it had air/con, and after years of suffering in the Torana, this was heaven. 

We must have kept that car for the good part of a decade, as our next car was a 1990 Magna Elite, in the exact two-tone style shown here.

This car embarrassed me.  My parents embarrassed me.  (Everything was embarrassing, in the early 90’s)  But so much in this car was electronic, which was quite advanced.  It had central locking.  The windows were electric.  The aerial was electric…even the speedometer was digital.  Freak of a car.

All in all though, it was a dud.  The main computer in it failed one day and it was going to cost thousands to fix.  So it was swiftly traded in.

After the Magna Elite, it was time to get my own.  And move out of home.  (Generally time to move on.)

So at 18, I got my first car.  A major, major event!  $3,000 bought me a 1981 Ford Laser Ghia hatchback, same as this one, except in white.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was gutsy.  It just kept going & going and was cheap as chips to have serviced.  Perfect for me as a student back then.  Importantly, it had a cassette deck and speakers in the back.  Nice beige velour seats (being the Ghia version), but an auto, which sucked.  So reliable though, despite the fact I gave it a good workout around Sydney over several years.  Ah, the freedom…

Eventually the Laser did start to fail on me and I was also desperate to drive a manual car.  By now I was working, but living out of home and being paid a pittance, I didn’t have much money.  So I bought this disaster:

A Daewoo Cielo, same gold metallic.  Why was it a disaster?  It ran ok, the gearstick was smooth…but it was just a crap car.  Korean made, for starters, but also I just didn’t have an affinity with it.  Not like the Laser: the Laser and I made memories together.  The Daewoo just got me from A to B.

From then on, I lived inner-city in Sydney and Melbourne and used public transport for years.  Either walked into work or caught a bus, tram, train.  I was, and still am a firm believer in using public transport.  I was adamant we try and live near a train station if we could, and fortunately we do.  We’re a one-car family now ourselves.

A special mention, though, must be made of this car my now-hubby and I had at the start of our relationship.  While our love blossomed, so too did hubby’s love for his brand new, Holden SS ute.

Yes, my husband had a rather intense love affair with me this car.  (OK, and me).  Put simply, it was hot.  (The car.)  But did I enjoy taking that ute, in all its V8 gloriousness, for a spin around the streets of Melbourne – window down, sunnies on, radio up?  You bet I did. 

In 2002, we went on a big road trip up the east coast in the ute.  Great holiday.  See the photo on the left?  That’s me, with the ute, taken by my hubby when we stopped in Cobargo.  “Nice photo, honey” I remarked later when I saw it.  I thought it was an OK photo of me.  He replied, “The photo of the ute?  Yeah, I know!”  Men.


6 responses to “Cars and computer games…in the olden days, kids

  1. I love that last pic of you. Cute!

    I had a Game & Watch as well. Mine had the parachuters fall in to boats.

    I LOVED Pacman and Frogger on Atari. My nephew had one (he’s my age), so when I visited my sister’s house, I’d play it there.

    My first car was a Datsun 120Y. My parents bought it for me for my 17th birthday. I had a Nissan Langley (Japanese import) then I moved to Sydney with Hubby and we jointly owned cars after that!

  2. I remember playing Chase HQ, Alex The Kid in Miracle World, Bubble Bobble, Bonanza Bros, Lemmings, Paper Boy, in fact I still play some of these games on the pc with a sega master system emulator that you can download.

  3. oh Magna. we had about 3 of those rust buckets coz they kept dying. DP wanted to get a new magna, i said hell no.

    We had an Atari, Pitfall rocked!
    We used to go to the sports center and play those table games where you sit either side. How awesome were they!

  4. Ahh, great fun! Your memories reminded me of my own. We didn’t get an Apple, but we did get a Tandy 1000 in 1985. To think, it didn’t even have a hard drive! I don’t even KNOW what it did, but we were all excited anyway!

    And then of course Atari! We didn’t even have a color tv – it was black and white, and we would play Pong for ages! It was the coolest thing! Kids today would be horrified!

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