TUBULAR has been uttered since the 70's in the surf world. I am from Newport Beach and Zuma and we said it in 78 -- not sure if it was used earlier but we used it by '78 for sure. We used it to describe when waves break like a barrel. In the early 80's the slang spread fast in So Cal beach cities when in Frank Zappa's song "Valley Girl" written and sung by his daughter Moon Unit Zappa makes fun of a girl from Encino (a rich part of the San Fernando Valley) who uses adopted surf lingo / words like "tubular" as a word to mean "cool." "Her name? Her name is Ondrea, Onndrea Wil-son." A girl like Andrea (rather "Ondrea," as she'd likely pronounce it, would travel the 15-20 miles from Encino to Malibu Beach to try to party with the surfer boys and boogie board on weekends -- and she dates Val Surf boys who cross Malibu Canyon to surf but live in the snotty-materialistic Valley -- that's where she picks up this lingo that identifies her as a Val along with her obsession with shopping designer at the Encino or Sherman Oaks Gallaria. All the Val's picked up that slang because of their close proximity to the beach and their love of "Fast Times," OP, Quicksilver, and everything SURF and SKATE. You would have been over heard all this exagerated lingo at the Encino Gallaria in the very early 80's. In 1982 Moon Unit Zappa and her dad put out the song that lit the fire: "Valley Girl" -- and from that day forward the world began to mock the So Cal Val's adopted surf lingo and make fun of it or acutally USE it themselves. I lived it kids -- born in Calabasas (a rich part of the San Fernando Valley that's nestled in Malibu Canyon fire country) and we moved to Malibu and then on to OC's Newport Beach. I had Dad get me my first skateboards at the Valley's #1 surf and skate shop on Ventura Blvd: Val Surf circa 1977 (a Logan Earth Ski and an Alva board with Tracker Mid Tracks and PowerFlex wheels). I idolized Mark Richards, the surfer, so I can assure you "tubular" didn't originate in god damed Jersey '88 like two hodads claimed in one of definitions. What a JOKE. I'm 41 and lived it first hand. I'd bet it was in Hawaii or Auz BEFORE any of us heard it. I know that it really spead like wildfire across the USA at a point where it became really un-cool to say in California. It's really funny that it took till 88 to hit Jersey as that kid said. LOL Dude it was DEAD in CA by 85. That thing you call Valley talk is really surfer talk that was snagged by the Val's. Surfers and Skaters and BMXers and Snowboarders and Roller Derby Girls still use a lot of that lingo -- at least in CA they do. We just don't say "to the max" and "tubular" very often unless we're mocking the 80's lingo.
It's totally tubular to the max! Those waves are tubular dude. A Val girl (only the ones who tried really hard to be cool would say something like: "It's totally tubular y'know?" Do you know this was really not hip in the less than fortunate parts of the Valley? Mainly this lingo was on fire in late 1981 - 1983 in parts of the Valley closest to Ventura Blvd and especially South of the Blvd. in places like Encino, Calabasas, Woodland Hills, Hidden Hills, with Agoura, Westlake, T.O. to the west eating it up too, the affluent parts of the Valley - pre-90210 kids.
From 1986....Sufer way to say cool. Relates to the tube a wave forms when cresting. First started in the Maplewood/South Orange Area of NJ and moved up and down East coast surfer comunity. Was in use in the west coast by 1988.
A slightly outdated term from the 80's used to describe something cool. Stems from the vaccuum tubes in electric guitar amplifiers producing a "tubular" sound rather than the bland tinny sound of the solid-state (transistor) amplifiers which came out in the 80's.