We graduated in a blockbuster year for entertainment, but our class was also shaped by bigger factors. We began our high school years just as the AIDS virus was being identified. Between this new public health crisis and the looming Cold War, there was a lot of unease in the world. While a lot of us might have had other things on our minds, some of this unease did filter down into school hallways and classroom discussions.
Things were also changing quickly on the technology front. Our class saw Motorola introduce the mobile phone and Apple introduce the Macintosh computer. We also witnessed Time Magazine name a computer as Man of the Year. And, in our graduation year, geneticist Dr. Alec Jeffreys discovered DNA fingerprinting, which would revolutionize both medicine and forensics.
Some of the most popular movies of our generation were released in 1984. These included: Footloose, Ghostbusters, Purple Rain, The Terminator, Gremlins, The Karate Kid, and Beverly Hills Cop. And John Hughes, who became known for capturing our peers on film like no other, released his directorial debut, Sixteen Candles.
Our graduation year also brought the series premiere of Miami Vice; a new Jeopardy! host, named Alex Trebek; an unforgettable Pepsi commercial, in which Michael Jackson’s hair was accidentally set on fire; the first MTV Video Music Awards; the founding of Cirque du Soleil; and the world debut of Tetris.