Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes…

On July 21, 2009, in Popular, by Kenton Ross

plymouth arrow

The Year Was 1977. Sticker price on the 1977 Plymouth Arrow was $3,175. It got 39 mpg highway and 24 city due to its ‘modern aerodynamic design’. 32 years later they’re debating a 35 MPG target for fuel efficiency.

* The cost of the average new house in 1977: $49,300
* The Dow closed out the year at 831 points
* Annual per-capita income: $15,000
* Average monthly rent: $240
* A gallon of leaded ‘ethyl’ gasoline: $ .65
* A new BMW 320i had a sticker price of $7,990

commodore petI was 28 and spent a whole week’s paycheck to buy my first computer for $599. It was an amazing Radio Shack TRS-80 with 4k of RAM. Today, I’m writing this article on a somewhat outdated desktop with 1.5 gigabytes of RAM.

Steve Wozniak and Steven Jobs released the Apple II computer and Commodore offered the PET (Personal Electronic Transactor).

bill gatesBill Gates was allegedly getting arrested for reckless driving in New Mexico (again). The first retail versions of Microsoft Windows wouldn’t hit the shelves for 8 years.

Back then, there was one phone company (Ma Bell) and one Yellow Pages that everyone could lift and read.

Today, your ideal customers research auto repair on their iPhones before they call you and plug your address into a GPS nav system to find your shop. Even I haven’t folded up a road map or looked at the ‘Yellow Pages’ in quite some time.

The first commercially available ‘portable’ cellular phone – Motorola’s first cell phone‘DynaTAC’ would not be invented by Dr. Cooper for another 6 years (Price: $3,995 – about $8,000 in today’s dollars).

In 1977 there was no one on the internet because there weren’t any websites. The first website wouldn’t appear for another 13 years. Today, there are 1.6 billion internet users browsing 162 milllion websites to satisfy their needs – from cat toys and cardiologists to car repair.

If you’re still not convinced your customers have changed, check out the fashion pages from the 1977 J.C. Penney’s catalog – courtesy of Johnny Virgil at the 15 Minute Lunch blogspot:

Please be sitting down, don’t be eating or drinking anything, take a deep breath and then

(rated ‘R’ for some crude language)

NOTE:  Back then, if any of these dudes had asked for permission to “re-tweet my blog post”, I would have called ‘911′ – except there was no such thing.

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3 Responses to Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes…

  1. Harry says:

    I have owned exactly one (1) 1970 style leisure suit and as I recall I was pretty proud of it, for the length of time I used it – which was not very long.

    It was late in the decade, the exact year has faded from memory. We were taking Laurie, our daughter, to a summer’s internship with her veterinary aunt in North Dakota. We drove through Minneapolis, as we had made plans to visit friends. For whatever reason, we made a stop at a Robert Hall store north of town. You remember Robert Hall clothiers? They had that catchy jingle played on radio seemingly at least hourly; “Robert Hall this season will show you the reason. Low overhead- low overhead.”

    Anyway, this store had a white leisure suit just my size and I bought it. As I recall, I walked out of the store wearing the suit, carrying my other clothes in a Robert Hall bag.
    We reached our destination in North Dakota the following day and I was still wearing that suit. Our first stop was the veterinary office where Laurie’s aunt met us. She had just been summoned by a nearby farmer to assist a cow in giving birth. She asked if we wanted to come along. Laurie of course jumped at the chance and persuaded me to go along. We all followed the aunt’s truck in our car.

    We soon found ourselves in barn that would never have been used as an icon for any farmer’s how to magazine. The area was barely shoveled and for the immediate past seemed to have been forgotten in any cleaning process.
    If you wonder; the cow was delivered by Caesarian section, a process I witnessed. This process gave credence to my earlier decision never to aspire to become a veterinarian.

    Leaving the barn (did I mention it was far from pristine) I fell on my ass while still wearing my white leisure suit. I landed in an indentation of the floor, where liquid of various origins had gathered over time. Upon egression from that malodorous pool I immediately concluded that the leisure suit was a total loss. The drive in the car that followed was painful for me, so I imagine what it was like for my passengers.

    Anyway, I did for a moment own a 1970′s leisure suit.


  2. Billie says:


    You may not know that I have a bizarre sense of humor … but in 1985, a pencil/shirt/gimmick salesman came to the plant. The girls in the office knew I would get hysterical and primed me, telling me NOT to laugh — I went out to interview the guy. He was missing two front teeth and wore a plaid coat (like the one in the J.C. Penney’s ad) and matching pants. It was all I could do to keep from losing it. He was such a nice guy that I had to leave the room so I wouldn’t bite through my lip to keep from laughing.

    I bought some shirts with BFC (our company name) on them and dealt with him over the next five years. He married a nice girl — and the next time he came into the office, he wore navy slacks, a leather jacket, and he had dentures that looked terrific. I was so happy for him. However, I still remember that first time!


  3. Damian Shaw says:

    WOW! I learned to program on an Apple II – a skill set that has evolved into useful skills for repairing modern (computer controlled) European vehicles!

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