Five '80's Gadgets That Used to be High Tech


All this talk about the first People Power anniversary takes me back to the 1980's. And you know what that means: cue flashback images of acid wash jeans, Tom Cruise as Maverick, the Goonies, and brand new technology that was the height of hi-tech back in the good old days.

As a Gen Xer and Martial Law baby, growing up it seemed like every year new technology was being introduced to the market. Each one was being touted as the next big thing to change modern living forever. And at the time, just like today, these new things really did revolutionize our lives. While I'm by no means a techie by any stretch of the imagination, I do recall how they've made modern living a bit more convenient in my small corner here in third world Philippines.

Let's go back a few decades and reminisce about some of the gadgets that dominated my childhood.
Here are a few that rocked my world back in the 80's.

1. VHS tape recording

Having the ability to record our favorite TV shows meant that we were no longer slaves to the schedules of network television. Before that, we had to be glued to the our TV screens lest we miss our shows. We hated to miss the cliffhanger of that TV series we'd been waiting for all week long, because it was gone after that. There was no youtube to turn to as a last resort, so those shows were a hit or miss.

2. Sony Walkman

Ah, the convenience of bringing your own portable player, choosing your own cassette tapes, and tuning out the world to the sound of your own music. Spaundau Ballet and Rick Astley were played in heavy rotation. And yes I'm one of those kids who knows the importance of having a mongol pencil during a cassette tape "emergency".

3. Speak and Spell Texas Instruments

As what might probably be considered a precursor to today's "apps", this learning toy by Texas instruments was a childhood favorite. I'd spend hours tinkering with this toy, it was so awesome. Although technically it came out in 1978, I only got a hold of this in the 1980's. It had a speech synthesizer, a keyboard, and a tiny slot for inserting ROM (Read only memory) games. It may have shaped my nerd-like tendencies.

4. Nintendo Entertainment System aka the Family Computer

Somehow I never moved on past the Nintendo family computer. My brother became the ultimate PSP player when it first came out, but Mario Brothers was the only game I spent hours with and lost sleep over. When my cousins came over, we'd take turns eliminating the difficult stages, usually involving a fire-breathing dragon and special ninja moves on the console. Ah, those were the days.

5. Fax machines

Because we operated a family business, we needed a fax machine at home. When it wasn't being used for, you know serious office work, I'd send over a few pages of personal letters by fax to my best friend. She also had a working fax machine at home. We'd wait for our personal "faxes" to come out of the machine and snatch it up before anyone else could read it. It was faster than having to mail a letter, but slower than picking up a rotary phone to call my friend.

What old school gadget are you nostalgic about? Let me know in the comments section.

Van Salas
Van Salas

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