May - Frank Zappa's "Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch" Album is released, with the single "Valley Girl" becoming a novelty top 40 hit. The song features Zappa's daughter, Moon Unit, riffing out "Val-Speak", including "Tubular" and "Awesome", striking off a nationwide fad of interest in Valley (and therefore California) surfer culture, much of which leaks onto BBSes.
June - Commodore Computer announces the Commodore 64 home computer.
September 13 - Fast Times at Ridgemont High, directed by Amy Heckerling, is released theatrically. This film includes actor Sean Penn's performance of Jeff Spicoli, a surfing teenager who uses terms such as "Awesome" and "radical" (rad) that quickly show up in teenage BBS culture.