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Top 5 Best Personal Gadgets from the 80's

Updated on July 3, 2011

Gadgets, gadgets and more gadgets!

Right now, many (if not most) of you are walking around with all sorts of new-fangled gadgets - iPods, iPads, maybe a laptop or an iPhone, or any of the myriad variations that are on the market today.

These gadgets and gizmos are as common to us today as the Sony Walkman or the CD Player was to those in the 80's. We just have more to choose from and they're much, much smaller. Just think, a personal CD player in the 1980's could be as big as an iPad is today.

Look how much more you can do with Apple's iPad!

You think nothing of coming home from a hard day at the office or gym and relax in front of your 30+ inch plasma television, ready to rewind your Tivo and watch all the juicy shows that you missed during the day (or even the week) while munching on a Hot Pocket and some popcorn. The 80's have nothing on you, baby!

Modern Gadgets

My Electric Friends - With Friends like these, who needs sunshine?
My Electric Friends - With Friends like these, who needs sunshine?

80's personal gadgets

Believe it or not, there was actually a time when none of these items existed. If you wanted a "quick" meal, you had to wait a half-an-hour or more for it in the oven. There just was no other way.

You wanted to watch a TV program at a time that it wasn't on? Tough. You better hope for a quick re-run (which was limited to the summer).

Getting a hold of someone while they were on the road? Nearly impossible.

Beach Cave

Beach cave! Now this is livin!
Beach cave! Now this is livin! | Source

How did people from the 80's live?

All of these things that we take for granted today were once new and exciting. More than that, they were life-altering.

Your parents probably remember a time when there was no microwave.

What? No microwave? Where did they live - a cave?

You lived and slaved by the stove. No dishwasher, no washing machine, no PC.

Holy heck! People like this decade?

Of course, they didn't know what they were missing.

Some 80's gadgets are still in use today

This article will take us back to the 80's, when a lot of what we take for granted now, was in its infancy.

Many gadgets came about or came of age during the 80's.

Here are but a few of the more popular ones. Some are still in use to this day, although undoubtedly faster and smaller and more efficient than their vintage 80's counterparts,

Let's start with probably the most significant invention: The personal computer. Specifically, the Commodore 64.

Commodore 64

The Commodore 64. One of the first affordable personal computers on the market.
The Commodore 64. One of the first affordable personal computers on the market.

80's Gadgets - Commodore 64

In many ways, it was much better than it's predecessor, the IBM-compatible computers that were popular at the time. It was also cheaper.

At a retail price of just $595 in the eighties, it was affordable to many that would not have otherwise been able to purchase one. It was easy to buy and easy to set up, pushing the computer revolution to the next level. Unfortunately, its competition demolished it and Commodore couldn't keep up.

Sony Walkman

The Sony Walkman was the 80's version of the iPod.
The Sony Walkman was the 80's version of the iPod. | Source

80's Gadgets - Sony Walkman

How many of you (raise your hand) just absolutely, positively cannot live without your "tunes?" Whether that be chilling in front of the computer rocking out to Bon Jovi on your iTunes, or in your car listening to your mp3 player. I know I can't.

Well, before 1980, your options for music were limited. If you didn't have an 8-track player (remember those??) in your car, you whistled for your entertainment. But in 1980, Sony introduced something that would revolutionize the way we heard and shared music.

Sure, it looks stupid and it's too big and outdated, but back then it was the greatest thing to come along since the phonograph. We actually thought it was cool. Man, we've come a long ways.

Microwave Ovens

Microwave were as big as TV's (then again, both TV's and microwaves have shrunk - nothing to see here, carry on!)
Microwave were as big as TV's (then again, both TV's and microwaves have shrunk - nothing to see here, carry on!)

Microwave Ovens

Then, for those of us who are constantly on the go and in need of a quick semi-nutritious meal (which is practically all of us), the 80's brought forth the microwave oven (although there is nothing "micro" about it).

It was nearly as big as an oven, too. But it could make a 30-min meal in 10.

Looks more like an old-time b&w console television.

It wasn't invented in the 80's, but it became popular and at a low enough price-point that your typical suburban home could afford it. Now, you could eat and listen your Walkman all while taking the dog for a walk! Multitasking was born.

Compact Disc Player

Phillips CD Player. This was compact??
Phillips CD Player. This was compact??

80's Gadgets - Compact Disc Player

A few years after the introduction of the Walkman, the Compact Disc Player was invented. Now you had even more control over your music. That they're still around today is a testament to their usefulness.

Modern Game Consoles

Nintendo NES

Somewhere, lurking in your garage, is one of these, a Nintendo NES Game System
Somewhere, lurking in your garage, is one of these, a Nintendo NES Game System

80's Gadgets - Nintendo NES

Lastly, but not leastly, the Nintendo NES Game Console system.

Who doesn't remember guiding Mario around picking up coins and saving princesses? While I personally didn't have one, that didn't stop me from hogging my friend's NES and getting my fix that way. It would go on to sell 60 million units and revolutionize the way we thought about - and played - video games.


I hope you enjoyed this nostalgic look back to the 80's.

It was certainly my favorite decade, and for many of you, too. So, the next time you miss your favorite program on Tivo, just be thankful that you have it. The VCR didn't come into its own until the mid-eighties.


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    • profile image

      Donna Ferrier 

      7 years ago

      Every runner (including me) had a Sony Walkman, although they were heavy to "wear." I still remember the "running uniform" of the day included those "short-short" running shorts. When microwaves first came out they were like $300-$400, and now you can get one for $30 if you just want a small one. And I can still remember the CD player coming out while I was in college (while the current "high technology" was still cassette tapes). The CDs were hugely expensive, and I can still remember one of my college professors carefully selecting the albums she would buy on CD because CDs were such luxury items.


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