While shows like Starblazers, Speed Racer and Captain Harlock came before Macross otherwise known as Robotech in the US... I feel it was Robotech that paved the way for the current anime boom.
No other anime show before Robotech made such an impact on the youth of America and most anime fans who ended up at anime clubs watched this series. From the toys to the original giant F.H.E. video tape boxes Robotech was massive and everywhere when it hit the US market... and the core of Robotech was Macross. No other anime has gotten attention like this 20+ year old series and at great cost was remastered for dvd release.
This anime is a classic and a must watch for any anime fan even if it looks dated by todays standards.