Chess King Ads by Boris Vallejo, 1986

Boris Vallejo was at the height of his fame when he took on this commission for Chess King, an American retailer specializing in hip young men’s fashion, in 1986. Vallejo moved to the United States in 1964 from his native Peru to work in commercial art and pulp paperback covers in their ’60s and ’70s heyday, honing his skills painting the rippling thews of barbarian kings and the oiled curves of their female companions…

Walking Straight Into the Past: David Keenan’s ‘This Is Memorial Device’

By Michael Grasso

“Worldbuilding” has become a trendy word to throw around when it comes to fictional universes. Franchises with the luxury to build their worlds over multiple motion pictures costing billions and billions of dollars fill the media landscape. In David Keenan’s debut novel, This Is Memorial Device, we enter a world with a much more humble, much more homely set of concerns, but with a universe no less studded with outsized personalities…

Texas Instruments SR-52 Programmable Calculator, 1975

As the microchip revolution took root in the late 1960s, one of the most obvious uses for the new miniaturization was in the field of mathematics. Digital computers’ original tasks had, of course, been related to calculating much faster than deskbound human beings. The power of a once-massive digital computer transferred to a handheld device would allow for a revolution in calculation, allowing mathematicians of all stripes, from accountants to engineers, to free themselves from lengthy and difficult slide rule calculating…

‘Disaster/Désastre’ Board Game, 1979

Disaster, created by American board game titan Parker Brothers for the Canadian market, transposes nearly every cinematic disaster scenario of the 1970s—the Decade of the Disaster Movie—onto the game board. Disaster films usually consisted of a huge ensemble cast, uniting current Hollywood stars with has-beens and stars of yesteryear, and they “explored” a common theme: the implacable destructiveness of nature and the inability of human structures to protect against it…

“Look It Up, Check It Out”: REX 84 and the History of an American Conspiracy

By Michael Grasso

On July 5, 1987, the day after Independence Day, a year and two days after President Reagan’s centennial rededication of the Statue of Liberty, and at the height of the Iran-Contra hearings, a monumental story appeared in the Miami Herald. Penned by investigative reporter Alfonso Chardy, the piece claimed to expose the workings of a “secret government” in place during the first six-and-a-half years of the Reagan Presidency…

Burger King Exterior, Circa 1978

Burger King, founded in 1953 in Jacksonville, Florida, emerged in the 1980s as one of the main nationwide competitors to McDonald’s in the United States. In 1978, the probable year of this photo, former McDonald’s executive Donald N. Smith began revamping Burger King’s image, which included taking power away from franchisees, refreshing and standardizing the restaurant chain’s look, and most importantly adding new items to the menu…

Incorporated Television Company Ident, Circa 1973

The thunderous strains and spinning lozenges of this ITC ident preceded all kinds of disparate television programs from the 1960s to the early ’80s—from the surreal spy tales of The Prisoner, to the pre-Star Wars sci-fi of Space: 1999, to the beloved The Muppet Show. They were all distributed internationally by Incorporated Television Company (ITC), or ITC Entertainment, as the company was known in the States…