Bitd, at first the trend in the 80's was for frames on the large side as folk often didn't appreciate the sizing differences betwixt road bikes and mtb s. This didn't last long and people generally were quick the revert to an appropriate frame size.
While there will always be the odd exception, the trend for scaffold pole lengths of seat tube exposed is a modern retro phenomenon. The business with 'compact frames' is a chimaera, else bars would also be raised and extended a commensurate amount, but almost always aren't. Look through old photos and mags and the altitude-sickness-inducing levels of exposed seat post we see today are largely absent. Always chuckle when a bike set up thus cracks at the rear of the top tube and the clueless rider scratches their head in surprise, like the Giant Anthem currently on eBay.
intending to post a pic of my Scott BiTD with typically 'elevated' saddle, but Photobucket is so slow on the PlayBook I've lost the will to live!
Suffice to say my brother's favourite quip was 'Why don't you just buy a bike that's the right size?'
He was obviously ahead if his time...