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Old 03-21-2016, 02:21 PM   #21
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Is there anything fancier in the line of ultra-compact (for the time) personal computers that came out in 1988, which would be her last birthday gift?
At my first job, we had a product that ran on computers from a company called GRiD Systems. The Compass was an IBM PC (4.77 MHz 8086, 640KB memory) true laptop form factor, with a flip-up monochrome LCD display over a keyboard, 3.5" floppy, and a modem. 5 kg. (The back half wasn't hinged; it was a bit narrower but deeper than the modern laptop shape.)

It was also mil-spec, so ridiculously ruggedized, operates under three feet of water, titanium case under the plastic, etc. And as you might expect, really expensive. (Though I'll have to take Wikipedia's word on the price; we didn't buy them for our own use, using regular '286 desktops instead.) But much more portable than the "luggables" like the Osborne or Compaq Portable. Plus they were tacticool enough to be used in "Aliens".

Toshiba also had something like a modern laptop before 1988 (the T1000 and T1100 models). There was an IBM PC Convertible as well.
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Old 03-21-2016, 02:26 PM   #22
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...
What are the export beers from Quebec or New Brunswick?
Labatt's Blue and Molson Export are the likely exports from both provinces. If they're from Quebec, the labels will be French first and English second if at all; if they're from NB, both languages will have equal prominence.

EDIT: Image of a Labatt's Blue bottle from 1988. (Probably an Ontario bottle, considering the predominance of English on the label.) All Canadian beer was sold in bottles this shape and size at the time; we called them "stubbies". The usual quantity of purchase is 24 - everyone in Canada knew what "a two-four of Blue" was.
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Old 03-21-2016, 02:38 PM   #23
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

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Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
At my first job, we had a product that ran on computers from a company called GRiD Systems.
Yup, the GRiD looked very cool. It inspired a spec a group of students I was in made up for a really survivable portable computer, which would survive anything that the person holding it would, except being struck by lightning while open. We didn't try to build one: it was obviously too expensive.
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Toshiba also had something like a modern laptop before 1988 (the T1000 and T1100 models). There was an IBM PC Convertible as well.
Those were really quite useful. The boss in a job I had 1987-88 had one, without a hard disk. He worked off the MS-DOS in ROM, plus a structured word processor called PC-Outline which was ridiculously fast and would fit the program plus a decent quantity of documents on a 720KB floppy.
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Old 03-21-2016, 03:06 PM   #24
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

A bit odd, but Aroostock County was part of a clue on todays Jeopardy.
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Old 03-21-2016, 05:43 PM   #25
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

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Originally Posted by Icelander;1990893
The young were bitterly divided on the [URL="https://dayjournal.wordpress.com/2008/05/26/the-wham-duran-duran-feud/"
Wham-Duran Duran Question[/URL]; a?
Eh, no. Even if it had been a thing it'd would have been over in 1988.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billbo...ingles_of_1988

No Wham! but George Michael is peaking as a solo artist. Duran Duran is well past their peak but not quite gone.

At a minimum you should at least look at the above list briefly. Your first guesses were rather Eurocentric. Also, in rural Maine it might not even be pop music.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...s_of_1988_(U.S.)

1988 was fairly early in the "New Country" phase. and it should not be underestimated as music to drink beer by in areas largely lacking in dance clubs.

Switching gears unless the lumber company owner is a Wall street fish out of water he'll be driving a pick up truck. A very large one, possibly with an extended cab. Not one of those little Toyotas that are ubiquitous overseas. Those were know in the US at the time but humorists tended to paint out the OATA on the rear gate and leave only the TOY. Stallone fans went for YO instead. Not lumberjack material.
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Old 03-21-2016, 06:19 PM   #26
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

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Switching gears unless the lumber company owner is a Wall street fish out of water he'll be driving a pick up truck. A very large one, possibly with an extended cab. Not one of those little Toyotas that are ubiquitous overseas. Those were know in the US at the time but humorists tended to paint out the OATA on the rear gate and leave only the TOY. Stallone fans went for YO instead. Not lumberjack material.
Right. Ford (probably the F-150), GMC/Chevy (can't remember model), and Dodge (Ram) were the three big-name companies of the day offering heavy-duty pickups. (I forget who owned Jeep at the time, since American Motors had collapsed and took their Eagle, the four-wheel drive station wagon, with it. Pretty sure Chrysler had just acquired the Jeep, but don't hold me to that.) International had stopped making the Scout II half a decade or so back, but there were still quite a few Scouts converted to pickups on the road; you might see the loggers driving them.

So for four-wheel drive cars/trucks, you had:

Chevy Blazer
International Scout II
GMC Suburban (I forget when they had the Suburban under the Chevy line, but at the time there should still be a few Chevy Suburbans on the road)
Dodge Ram
Ford F-150/F-250
Jeep Renegade (the classic Jeep)
Jeep Cherokee and Wagoneer (the Wagoneer had wooden panels on the side; otherwise, same basic vehicle)
American Motors Eagle (station wagon)
(Pretty sure there was another running around, but I can't remember it offhand...)

A few Chevy Econoline vans were converted to 4WD as well. This being the deep woods of Maine, no doubt there were a few "Johnny Cash Cadillac"s out there as well. Occasionally you'd see stuff as small as a Ford Ranger or Chevy S-10 converted to 4WD, but IIRC they weren't put out that way.

Note that 4WD at the time meant you still had to get out and lock the hubs of the front tires and then throw the second line of the transmission into 4WD. I can't remember any 4WD trucks that had automatic transmissions.
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Old 03-21-2016, 07:15 PM   #27
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11b)
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Very strong. The federal government is an early adopter of computer storage technology due to their combination of plentiful funding, national security interests, and sheer size of archives, but a place like this probably wouldn't think about computerization of records until the mid 1990s. I'd be surprised but not shocked if some archives were still paper-only today.
Right, lovely.

So if a man born in Aroostook County, Maine were arrested for murder in New York on the 14th of December, 1988, it wouldn't be exceptional in any way for it to take a week until the NYPD and FBI task force assigned to the investigation had final information from the Maine State Police and Aroostook County Sheriff's Office?

I mean, in two days they might have spoken with the current Sheriff and the Lieutenant commanding the F Troop of the State Police in the region, but any follow-up such as tracking down incident reports or getting statements from responding officers from any events more than five years in the past might have taken up to a week, right?

Especially if these were not obviously relevant until after the first report went to the task force and they came back with a request for further information after bringing up certain events with the suspect.

12)
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Actually, yes. \Moxie is ubiquitous in Maine, and near impossible to find outside of New England. It has a weird bitter sweet taste that puts in the Vegemite and licorice category of "love it or hate it".
Splendid! Thanks for a lovely bit of local colour.

15)
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Local beer won't really be a thing until the 1990s. Budweiser, Coors, and Miller are all standard. You could probably find Sam Adams in Portland if you knew where to look for it, and Narraganset would probably be a sign of a Red Sox fan with a high susceptibility to marketing. Canadian beer would be Labatt, Molson's or Carling Black Label (if really hipster), in that order.
Are Budweiser, Coors and Miller all equally popular in New England/Maine or might one of them be favoured over the others?

Do small town drinking establishments have all of them on draft at this time or is it more likely to be an exlusive contract with one of them, with others stocked only in bottles?

And would the US/State of Maine levy particularly high import dues/tarriffs/other additional taxes on Canadian beers or other alcohol?

14) Come to think of it, in the 1980s, would Canadians in border towns visit the US to buy cheap booze and other stuff as they do in the modern day, due to lower sales tax and lower taxes on alcohol and cigarettes?

Or might the US citizens visit Canada for cross-border shopping in the 1980s?

What about earlier? Was there anything much cheaper in Canada (New Brunswick or Quebec) during the late 50s, the 60s and the 70s than it was in New England/Maine?

Or much cheaper in New England/Maine than it was in Canada (New Brunswick or Quebec) at some periods from 1958-1980?

I'm wondering if the PCs hear local smuggling yarns, what were/are the locals smuggling after the end of Prohibition?

Cigarettes being smuggled from the US into Canada started to become very big business after 1990, but I don't know how much, if any, there was of it before the huge hike in Canadian excise tax in the late 80s/early 90s.

15)
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The late 1980s also made malt liquor popular with people looking for a quick and dirty kind of drunk. Old English 800 and Colt 45 (hawked by Billy Dee Williams) were the biggest brands.
Eugh.

My modern pop cultural osmosis insists that Colt 45 is an inner-city beverage, associated heavily with homeless black males in metropolitan areas, in particular Baltimore, Washington DC and certain neighbourhoods of Detroit, LA and New York City.

Would it also be appropriate for white rural drunks with trucker caps in northern Maine? Because if so, a faux-sophisticated 21-year-old might drink it 'ironically' with his buddies when home for the holidays.
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Old 03-21-2016, 07:35 PM   #28
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16)
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Pretty much all the same question. Jack Daniels isn't technically bourbon, but it is standard, despite the much maligned lowering of alcohol content in 1987. However the 1980s see a huge surge in vodka in the US, especially among the younger and more fashion forward crowd.
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What about Johnnie Walker, Jim Beam, Chivas Regal, and Maker's Mark? I think Walker and Beam are a bit down-market and Chivas is a bit foreign, but I thought Maker's Mark was upmarket and might be the drink of choice for the 'cultured' types.
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I don't know about then, but now, Maker's Mark is, if on a scale of 1-100 with 100 being top shelf, about a 25-30. At least that's how it is considered in my area. It is priced comparatively. If Glenlivets (about a 45 on the scale) is $80ish (now) for 18 year old for a fifth, Maker's Mark is about $30.
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I was just pointing to the most widely sold American whiskey for middle class types. Johnnie Walker is a slightly higher end Scotch, but it and downmarket Jim Beam would both definitely be common. Chivas would be seen as an old man's liquor in the 1980s, and Maker's Mark is mostly a Kentucky drink until somewhere around the turn of the century.
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Would Crown Royal be a thing?
So Jack Daniels or Jim Beam for the average local, Crown Royal or Seagrams whiskey for someone with Canadian connections or tastes and Scotch for 'cultured' types, with Johnnie Walker for those not too cultured, Chivas Regal for fairly refined types and actual imported single-malt Scotch for real connoisseurs.

Maker's Mark would be for the (at this time) rarer bourbon connoisseur, who might also buy Booker's or Blanton's Single Barrel, but being a bourbon connoisseur at all in 1988 would be an odd quirk. Bourbon was at the time still almost exclusively seen as a common, no-nonse working class drink, I gather. And young people saw it as an unhip drink for unsophisticated people, either old-fashioned or just unimaginative.

Hip and cool local kids who go to college in urban areas* drink vodka, but what brand? Absolut had a successful 1980s ad campaign and is fairly upscale. Would it be appropriate? Smirnoff is a stalwart seller in much of the world and in the US when I've visited in the 1990s and later, would that hold true in New England in 1988?

What about gin? Canadians make a lot of gin and it's certainly common across the border. Would Mainians buy Seagrams gin or was there no culture for gin drinks in 1980s America?

*Or those of their old friends who stayed home but still want to be cool, not to mention impressionable locals of ages 16-24, who want to fit in with the cool kids who are visiting home for the holidays.
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Old 03-21-2016, 07:56 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
...

14) Come to think of it, in the 1980s, would Canadians in border towns visit the US to buy cheap booze and other stuff as they do in the modern day, due to lower sales tax and lower taxes on alcohol and cigarettes?

Or might the US citizens visit Canada for cross-border shopping in the 1980s?

What about earlier? Was there anything much cheaper in Canada (New Brunswick or Quebec) during the late 50s, the 60s and the 70s than it was in New England/Maine?

Or much cheaper in New England/Maine than it was in Canada (New Brunswick or Quebec) at some periods from 1958-1980?

I'm wondering if the PCs hear local smuggling yarns, what were/are the locals smuggling after the end of Prohibition?

Cigarettes being smuggled from the US into Canada started to become very big business after 1990, but I don't know how much, if any, there was of it before the huge hike in Canadian excise tax in the late 80s/early 90s.

...
(goes and checks)

According to this website, on November 22, 1988 the US Dollar was worth $1.19 Canadian, and the Canadian dollar was worth $0.85 US. That's a better exchange rate than we have right now, but not as good as some other times in the same era.

Legal drinking age at the time in Quebec was 18, in New Brunswick was 19, and in Maine was 21. College kids will be headed north to drink, not south.

Cross-border shopping was usually done from Canada in the US, even with the unfavourable exchange rate - the selection of goods in US stores was wider and deeper than the selection in Canadian stores.

As for smuggling, many border crossings between Canada and Maine were unpatrolled at the time; we wouldn't have Homeland Security and the Canada Border Services Agency for more than another decade, and there was a certain amount of pride in the two countries having the world's longest undefended border. Smuggling was trivially easy, as long as you did it "retail" instead of "wholesale" - do too much, and you draw attention to yourself and both the IRS and Canada Customs and Excise take an interest. Do a little bit, and it was a game: how much can you can get away with and not draw the attention of the authorities? This doesn't apply to major border crossings, of course; those were always staffed with Customs agents on both sides of the border. (It also doesn't apply to the modern day; the borders have tightened up substantially since 9/11.)

Anything with high taxes in Canada - fuel, tobacco, and alcohol - was fair game for being smuggled from the US. A major exception to this was weapons - try smuggling those, and you will attract attention. Going the other way, "soft" drugs such as marijuana were often smuggled south; while they were illegal on both sides of the border, the laws were less stringent in Canada so it was safer to produce them there. Again, this was risky - the "War on Drugs" had been taking place for over a decade by this point, and people caught with cannabis in the US were receiving stiff jail terms.

People might boast about bring a "40 ouncer" (a 40 oz bottle of spirits) or a "carton of smokes" across the border without declaring them, but the weapons and drug trades were kept very quiet.
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Old 03-21-2016, 08:00 PM   #30
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I've got more questions:

19) Who makes the clothes that the people of Aroostook County, Maine, wear every day? What are popular jeans models in rural areas in 1988? Work shirts? Shoes? Coats?
--19a) What about hunting season? In 1988, who makes the orange vests, hats and warm weather clothing that Mainians put on for hunting?
--19b) What about blizzards? What does someone put on during one and who makes that kind of wear?

20) What are leading outdoors or hunting wear brands that someone who shopped in New York, Connecticut or Boston might buy?
--20a) What about bags, gun cases and accessories? What brands are popular for affluent hunters there?
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