The Technic Universal Sets
1982 NL Technical catalog
The first 3 universal sets, including the large 8090 Universal Set, and a new 4.5 V motor, featuring a new battery box and connecting leads, were introduced. In Europe the theme was given a new name - Technic. The new name was used for both advertising and on the boxes. In fact several of the earlier Technical sets, such as the 8848 and 8860 were repackaged in Technic boxes. In the US the name remained Expert Builder, it would not change to Technic until 1986.
The friction connector: In addition to the new 4.5 V elements, the friction connector was introduced. The friction connector allowed 2 beams to be joined with a very secure connection and was largely responsible for allowing the beams to be used not just as long Lego blocks, but truly as beams, in much the way a Meccano girder was used. In fact the connection was so tight that Lego gave instructions to make a tool to remove them. It has become one of the most important and widely used Technic elements.
1982 US ad: 119K
8050 Universal Set:
Lego has always produced specific model sets, but it wasn't until the advent of distinct themes in the late 1970s that this became the primary focus of Lego marketing. Rather, Lego produced generic sets that offered ideas for a wide variety of models, such as the classic 100 series sets of the early 1970's. The Universal Sets were the first generic Technic Set.
The 8050 set featured instructions for 6 different models and ideas for several more. It included a general variety of Technic elements, such as beams, gears, connectors, as well as the 4.5V motor introduced in 1977.

1982 sets:

8030 Expert Builder Set
8050 Motorized Expert Builder Set
8090 Universal Set
8700 Power Pack
By Isodomus