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Reclaim your '80s arcade glory with this immersive show

A Sony Walkman, belonging to a fictional character named Alex, holds a cassette mix tape.
GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser
A Sony Walkman, belonging to a fictional character named Alex, holds a cassette mix tape.

Let this segment take you back — WAY back.

We’re in your high school computer class. It's the 1980s: Walkmans in backpacks, satin jackets in lockers, Apple IIe computers running BASIC. Where is this nostalgic wonderland, you ask? 

You can find it at the "Totally 80s Rewind" exhibit at Living Computers: Museum + Labs in the Sodo neighborhood. Reporter Kurt Schlosserwrote it up for Geekwire; he joined Bill Radke in the studio for a flashback to the days of Centipede and The Cure.

Hear @KUOWRadke & @kslosh reminisce the about their fantastical youth #1980s, laden with arcade adventures. — KUOW Public Radio (@KUOW) March 19, 2018

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Here are excerpts from Radke and Schlosser's conversation.
Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.

What’s the first scene you see?

Schlosser: Off in this corner, they’ve constructed three rooms. One of them is a high school classroom. And you enter school as you would as a teenager, into this math computing class. There’s a bunch of very nice vintage desks, orange chairs and a bunch of Apple IIe computers. 

There’s an overhead projector up front, which we all remember. Remember the teacher having trouble deciding which way was up or down? And that sets the scene.  

There’s a linoleum floor, a drop ceiling, there are pencils stuck in the ceiling. And the objective at Living Computers is you can use any of these machines.

Is the idea that you just hang out and bask in nostalgia?

It’s very much an interactive and an immersive experience. They enjoy folks taking part and putting their hands on the machines.

Your memories are triggered by using these devices.

All the video games are restored to working order, and they’re in great shape.

They want to see how people mingle with all of this stuff. There’s no introduction to the exhibit, there are no artifact labels on this stuff. 

Do people like to remember the extra effort things took?

I think we’re in this period now where we have a little bit of appreciation for that analog stuff. That’s why vinyl LPs have come back so strong, and some of these older games that are recreated even in apps. They’re touchstones. And that snap of the cartridge reminds you that there’s a little bit of effort there.

Produced for the web by Amy Rolph.


Year started with KUOW: 1985 – 1986, 1991 – 2004, 2012