10 Gadgets From the ’80s That We Miss

Can’t get enough of the ’80s!


(SPOT.ph) It seems that people can't get enough of the ’80s. With wayfarers, skinny jeans, and boat shoes still enjoying popularity, we wouldn’t be surprised if mullets and cowboy boots start trending, as well. While we don't pine for the latter, we do hold other 80s icons with geeky nostalgia. Here are our top 10 gadget hits of the ’80s, in no particular order.



Before Google made the colors red, green, yellow and blue popular, there was Simon. This gaming gadget had four colored panels that lit up and made a specific sound. The fun starts when you try to follow what Simon "says"-basically pressing the buttons in the same order as Simon lights them up. The combinations get longer as the game progresses. Simon even spawned other versions called Super Simon and Pocket Simon. Say what?

Game & Watch
These pocket-sized game consoles made killing time a simple task-how hard could it be when most of the games involved just two buttons? Titles like Helmet (which involved you running from one house to another, avoiding tools that fall from the sky) and  Parachute (where you had to row a boat to save paratroopers from landing in shark-infested waters) kept thumbs busy. Soon after, the likes of Mickey Mouse and Popeye joined Donkey Kong and Mario in the Game & Watch roster.


Nintendo Family Computer

The Nintendo Family Computer (a.k.a. the Nintendo Entertainment System in the US), was hot on the heels of the Game & Watch. Various games such as Donkey Kong Jr. and Excite Bike were made available on game cartridges that you put in the machine which you then plugged into your TV. The game controllers had a four-way directional pad, and two "fire" buttons. Curiously enough, the second controller had a built-in microphone which allowed you annoy the other player while you wait for your turn.


Sony Walkman
Taking your music with you was a novel concept back then, but Sony’s Walkman made it possible. Models ranged from basic, playback-only units to ones with auto-reverse and equalizers. Portability also meant these devices went wherever you did. Soon a Walkman Sports version gave a degree of protection from sweat and sand. The Walkman also elevated the creation of mix tapes to an art-that is, if she was impressed by your Curtis Steiger, Laura Branigan, and Gazebo selections.


Sound Burger

Perhaps feeling threatened by the Walkman, vinyl junkies found solace in the Sound Burger. The Sound Burger gave you a chance to take your 45s and LPs with you wherever you went. But it also exposed your records to the elements-never a good thing, especially if you had a picture disc! Despite the risks, it scored a few points by serving as an ice breaker and topic of conversation, if nothing else.




Arcade Games
If you ever got tired of zapping aliens from your couch, then perhaps a change in scenery was just what the high score ordered. Head down to your neighborhood video game arcade with a pocketful of tokens and hang out with some of your like-minded friends. Games with names like Battle Zone, Galaxian, and OutRun kept you entertained, while they happily gobbled up those tokens (and your allowance) like Pac-Man. Such was the draw of these machines that the arcades became the hangout of truant officers, no doubt looking for students who've cut class.


Despite losing the video cassette player war to rival format VHS, the Sony Betamax enjoyed a good run during the ’80s. It helped define the term "home entertainment system," and gave birth to a burgeoning industry composed of ancillary gadgets like tape rewinders and rental stores. Most of the popular films and TV series at that time were available in these rental stores-even more, um, adult titles. Tapes were even delivered to your doorstep (a novel idea!) furthering your existence as a couch potato.


Calculator Watches
Predating the modern-day hype of the smart watch, the 80s were also the heyday of the calculator watch. These did more than count time and take care of products, quotients, sums and differences, though. Casio's Databank watches also stored names and phone numbers-a little black book on your wrist! The watches had a touch of flair, too: besides basic black, they came in shiny silver and of course, gaudy gold. Their small screens may also be why nerds wore glasses. Calculator watches did a complete 180. Thirty years later, calculator watches are now a fashion-blogger commodity.



Sony Watchman
It was basically a Walkman with a built-in AM/FM radio and, you guessed it, a TV screen. Early models of the Watchman had tiny black and white screens, which eventually gave way to larger (four inches!) and colored displays. There was also a water-resistant "Sports" model. Signal reception was handled by a signal antenna. Only die-hard fans of TODAS, Going Bananas, and Sic O'Clock news could put up with the substandard screen and reception-those shows deserved a full-sized TV!


Photo courtesy of photojojo.com

The Polaroid Sun 660 can probably be likened to Instagram. Or is it the other way around?  At any rate, the 660 promised "almost" instantaneous development of film - perfect for parties or family get togethers where multiple copies could be shot and shared. Special "effects" can be done to the prints by exposing them to light during the processing phase (this is now taken for granted as "filters"). The 660 came with a built-in flash and "Sonar" autofocus, giving it a minimum focal range of two feet. Which made "selfies" almost impossible to pull off. Thankfully.




Art by Warren Espejo

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