Taking an ‘80s Trip Down Technology Lane

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After a few relatively slow decades, technology started to advance more quickly and consumers were able to take advantage of this progress.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and reflect on some of the innovations and gadgets that were popular during the era of big hair.

Commodore 64

You could say the ‘80s was the decade of the both the Commodores the group and the Commodore 64 computer. The latter was touted as having a “state-of-the-art” audio/video system and it followed the home theater boom.

It was one of the most popular computers of all time, selling between 12.5 and 17 million units. For a mere $600, you could head to your local big box retailer and pick one up.

After hooking that baby to your television set you could flush untold hours down the drain playing any one of a total of 20,000 games available to the Commodore 64 owner, while bopping to the funky sounds of “Brick House,” sung by the group with a similar name.

Game Boy

Nintendo’s Game Boy was a panacea for frazzled parents everywhere. Just shoving one of these little devices into little Bobby’s clenched mitts resulted in hours of peaceful travel.

Word quickly spread and within weeks a million of these flew off the shelves. The original Game Boy was available in black and white only, but color soon arrived on the scene, making the black and white unit practically obsolete and of course little Bobby was a terror on trips until his parents purchased one for him.

In 2009, the Game Boy was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

Widespread Use of the Microwave Oven

Even though the first countertop microwave was introduced in 1967, it didn’t enjoy widespread use until the ’80s. Exhausted wives and bachelors everywhere breathed a sigh of relief.

Employers installed them in employee lunchrooms throughout the United States ostensibly for employee convenience, but we all know it was really to keep workers in the building and on the job.

Widespread Use of the Desktop Fax Machine

Initially big and bulky, fax machines weren’t consumer friendly until the 1980s when smaller, faster machines that could be hooked up to phone lines took the market by storm.

By some estimates, there were more than four million in use in the United States by the late 1980s. Some of the older fax machines used thermal paper, on which ink had a tendency to smudge. These were quickly replaced by models that used standard paper.

As email attachments became more popular, fax usage dwindled. Junk faxes were replaced by spam. At least it’s easier to hit the delete button than it is to walk to the trash can.

Compact Disk Player

The music industry was turned on its head with the invention of the compact disk. Within five years, CDs were outselling records.

Initially encased in ridiculously huge pieces of plastic, the CD packaging was downsized eventually, which leaves one wondering who was responsible for the absurd original design.

Someone from the plastics industry perhaps?

This guest blog brought to you by audio/video gadget-junkie James Tennant who can’t wait for the next big thing in home technology.

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