This week (barring any unforeseen disasters with a rampaging Myrka or a jar of Marmite) marks the 25th episode of Traveling The Vortex, and I thought it appropriate to pause and take stock. Twenty-Five. That is kinda a big deal for 3 nobody’s from Kansas. If you had asked me then if we’d last twenty five episodes… well of course I would have said yes, but that’s just ego talking. Not being one to miss the opportunity to celebrate an anniversary, I thought I’d trot out a few other things that were turning 25 this year, since it’s such a fun number.
The year was 1986…
Manned spaceflight is struck a huge blow when a faulty “O”-ring causes the loss of the 7 astronauts aboard Space Shuttle Challenger just minutes after lift off. Less than a month later, the Soviets launch Space Station Mir. Explosions and fire would be the least of the worries for the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, ultimate killing over 4000 people and resettling at least 350,000 others. The IRS started something called “E-filing” for taxes, and the Ruton Voyager became the first aircraft to fly around the world without stopping or taking on fuel.
The first case of “Mad Cow Disease” is found in England, Antarctica scientists find a hole in something called the Ozone layer, Oliver North starts shredding documents that would link him to Iran-Contra, and the Pope meets Mother Teresa.
Eastman Kodak lost the Supreme Court appeal on a patent dispute with Polaroid over instant cameras, while Fujifilm releases the first disposable camera. Other noteworthy inventions that year included Apple’s Macintosh Plus, featuring a whopping 8 MHz processor, and 1MB of RAM and a 9” screen; IBM shipped the first laptop weighing a hefty 13 pounds; and the first prototype Pneumatic Water Gun was patented, though it wouldn’t be until 1993 that it earns the name Super Soaker.
In other computer news, Unisys became the world’s second largest computer company, Bill Gates became one of the world’s youngest billionaires when Microsoft went public, and Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) is developed, and enables emails to be access without downloading the messages to a local hard drive. The first PC virus spreads from a couple of Pakistani computer store operators, and an essay about early hacker culture “The Conscience of a Hacker” or the ‘Hacker’s Manifesto’ as it came to be known, is published. It would later be quoted in the 1995 movie Hackers.
Speaking of movies, “Top Gun” reigns supreme at the box office. Other notable films celebrating their 25th anniversaries this year include “Crocodile Dundee”, “Platoon” James Cameron’s “Aliens”, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, and “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”. The computer graphics division of Lucasfilm Ltd, is purchased by Steve Jobs for $10 million dollars and established as an independent company called Pixar. And Francis Ford Coppola directs the first “4D” movie which runs 17 minutes and cost $30 million dollars. “Captain EO” starred Michael Jackson and ran exclusively at Walt Disney World.
Other entertainment anniversaries include “Les Miserables” debut on Broadway, BOTH Wondercon and Dragoncon, conventions turn 25 this year, as well as a certain Italian plumber and heroic elf. Super Mario Bros. and The Legend Of Zelda debuted in 1986. Mike Tyson became the youngest Heavyweight Champion in history, Captain Midnight hijacked HBO’s satellite signal to send his own pirate message “$12.95/Month?…No Way!”, and the first ten musicians were inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Game, including James Brown, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard.
On the Who front, 1986 brought Colin Baker’s epic “Trail Of A Time Lord” season to TV, although the 25th anniversary episode of Doctor Who “Silver Nemesis” would star Sylvester McCoy, and wouldn’t be broadcast until 1988. And IN universe, The Doctor lands the TARDIS at the Snowcap Space Tracking station at the South Pole in 1986 in the episode “The Tenth Planet”, and returns Peri to Blackpool 1986 in the “lost story” audio adventure “The Nightmare Fair”.
Of course some people will cry foul, as this list represents actual anniversaries. “You’re only on episode 25!” Those people will declare, hardly an anniversary. Okay, let’s take a look at some WHO-centric 25 episodes. The 25th individual episode of Doctor Who was “Sentence Of Death” from the Keys Of Marinus story arc. The 25th Story arc was “The Gunfighters”, both starring William Hartnell. I think we’re in good company. And if you disagree… Phooey on you, this is our podcast and we’ll celebrate any old number we choose!
But it does feel good to hit 25. Thanks as always to our listeners for making it happen, glad you like the show.
Until the next fun number…