Did You Have a Programmable Tank in the 80’s?
The 1980s are memorable for lots of different reasons. There were the shoulder pads and the hair from programmes like Dynasty for example, but there were also lots of electronic games that were simply the must haves of their day.
One of the most memorable of these was a tank that had the benefit of having six chunky wheels on it. But it wasn’t just any tank. Instead it was a big tank that could be programmed according to where the owner wanted it to go.
This sounds fairly basic now, but in the Eighties it was a major leap forward in toys for kids of all ages. With three wheels on each side and a chunky white body, the tank also had a numeric keypad on the rear end of the top section. This also had a number of other buttons that would enable the user to enter a series of commands prior to activating it.
One noticeable thing about the tank was that the keypad was not accompanied by a display of any kind. This meant you would have to either make notes of how you wanted to program it, or just key in your chosen commands and then start the tank going to see whether you had done it correctly. It still represented a huge step forward at the time though, and it was the must have toy for many kids at the time.
Even though it is known and remembered primarily as an Eighties toy, it actually started life back at the tail end of the Seventies. Its creator, the toy company Milton Bradley, came up with the design in 1979 and quickly launched it into the marketplace.
The commands you could ask the tank to perform were quite limited, but impressive to program in at the time. You could make it go forwards or backwards, as well as asking it to turn to the left or right. There was also a blue beam built into the front of the tank, and you could program in a command for it to ‘fire’ the laser beam.
The limitations of the toy – namely that it could only remember sixteen commands at a time – were not a problem at the time, as it was seen to be a huge must have item. And although it disappeared from the market eventually it has enjoyed a major comeback in 2010. The Big Trak toy, as it was known, can now be bought again – perhaps for the same ‘little boys’ who owned it originally!
There is no doubt that it could once again be the must have toy at Christmas, as everyone who remembers it will want it once again.