Selections from ‘Suburbia’ by Bill Owens, 1973

Look at that living room, so similar to many of the ones I grew up around and yet so much less pokey, so much more relaxed. Those cars, those bizarre technologies we were constantly struggling to understand in cartoons and comics—pull carts, barbecues, six packs—all in the middle of this massive, consequenceless nowhere where it was always warm and never rained. We lived in estates too, but nothing like these huge, smoothly landscaped labyrinths, low to the ground like military installations. Wow, what a place…

Bob Pepper Cover Art for Isaac Asimov’s ‘Lucky Starr’ Series, 1971 – 1972

Originally published between 1952 and 1958 under the pseudonym Paul French, Isaac Asimov’s Lucky Star series details the exploits of David “Lucky” Starr, a prototypical pulp hero waging prototypical “Us vs. Them” adventures. The books were originally intended as the basis for a children’s television series, a sort of science-fictional Lone Ranger, but the project was abandoned when a competing network started developing Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (1954)…

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…

‘Wasteland’ by Alex Grey, 1982

In 1972, artist Alex Grey began to realize a series of art installations/performances dealing with themes including death, transcendence, and transformation. As recession began to take hold and the Cold War intensified during the first years of the 1980s, Britain and the U.S. elected reactionary, hawkish leaders, fears of imminent nuclear war spread…

SDS-V Drum Synthesizer, 1981

Released in 1981, the SDS-V was an electronic drum kit produced by British company Simmons, which was founded in 1978 by Dave Simmons and remained active until 1999. Though retaining a classic layout, the SDS-V’s glossy, hexagonal drums invoked a futuristic, scientific aesthetic that implied a rejection of the sweaty toil previously involved in percussion…

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…

‘Bureaucracy’ Board Game, 1981

In Avalon Hill’s Bureaucracy, players attempt to “simulate the bureaucratic behavior which constitutes so much of what we call government” and “[rise] up through the masses” to become Director, which amounts to marching around a Monopoly-style game board seeking promotion…

‘Star Wars: Escape from Death Star Game’, 1977

During the holiday season of 1977, kids were desperate for Star Wars toys. Unfortunately, Kenner couldn’t ramp up toy production fast enough (leading to a groundbreaking marketing maneuver: the Early Bird Certificate Package), so there were very few Star Wars-related items available for parents to put under the Christmas tree…

‘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…