Running across this online version of Oregon Trail made me think about generational touchpoints (as just about every American of a certain age holds a special place in their heart for this game, particularly the hunting part). Anyway, after seeing this my mind immediately jumped to a few other references that seemed worth talking about (if for no other reason than they’re fun to Google).
Everyone knows this one best as the Contra Code (or Konami Code, which I guess is it’s official name). I actually remember it having an extra B-A and ending in SELECT + START (the Wikipedia entry notes, “The exact sequence varies from game to game, and has been adapted to fit the button layouts of different video game consoles.”). (As a total sidenote, it’s worth saying how amazing Wikipedia is for stuff like this. While it may be lacking in some other, more serious, areas, when it comes to 1980s videogames, the information flows). You can now buy t-shirts that reference the code and even use it in Google Reader. (I, personally, have always wanted to use it in a piece of marketing work. No other reference, just the code.)
Anyone who remembers Back to the Future Part II likely has one memory that sticks out most of all: Marty’s hoverboard. Clearly, every kid wanted one, and, according to Snopes eventually the director, Robert Zimeckis, grew tired of people asking him about how they had done the scenes and started saying it was real. The part I remember best is also covered in the Snopes piece: “A very prevalent legend that circulated around the schools when this movie came out was that some toy company had actually developed a working hoverboard, and were planning to release it as soon as the movie was out of theaters. The release of the board not occuring, the rumor was appended to be such that someone had been killed/severely injured in the playtesting of the hoverboard, and the resulting suit from the child’s parents kept the hoverboard from being ever put into production.” Man, we totally bought this. (Once again, Wikipedia has some more great info.)
Those are pretty much the three that pop into my head. There are a few others that I would consider in the running, but didn’t quite make the cut: Drugwars (which appears to now have been recreated in an opensource version) and Bo Jackson baseball/football poster (which I’m pretty sure Nick still has on his wall).