Living up to its reputation as an innovator, Hammacher Schlemmer teams up with CompuServe to sell products online, becoming one of the first retailers to go on the Internet. That same year, our third store opens on North Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, and the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute introduces the Customer Testing Panel, utilizing actual customers to test their products.
On January 28, Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrates 73 seconds after launch, the entire crew of seven astronauts perishing, including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. That night, President Ronald Reagan gave a national address on the Challenger disaster from the Oval Office of the White House, quoting from the poem "High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.: "We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of Earth' to 'touch the face of God.'"
The Official New York Santa Claus Suit is identical in every detail to the one worn by Mr. Kringle in the New York City Thanksgiving Day Parade. Custom made by suppliers to the Broadway stage and opera companies, the beard and wig use nylon and yak hair for stage-quality realism. Suspenders and white gloves are included, but stuffing is not, allowing the wearer to adjust the girth for optimal holiday merriment. The suit sells for $1,995.
The helpful gnomes, Hammacher and Schlemmer, are back again on our catalog cover, in this case, serving as unpaid models. Rather than giving one product star treatment, an assortment of products are featured, including The Table Tennis Robot, The Only Face-Down Lounger, The Cordless Stereophonic Headphone, the Noordwijk-Binnen Construction Set, and The Ear-Relief Cushioned Telephone.