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Ah, the 1980s. Whether you were born in the 80s, grew up in the 80s, or never set foot in that infamous decade, hearing the term “1980s” probably makes you think of something. Is it DOS Run Classic DOS Games On Your Wii With DOSbox Run Classic DOS Games On Your Wii With DOSbox Run DOS software on your Wii, just because you can. DOSbox for Wii puts the complete DOS experience – command prompt and all – on your Wii. DOSbox isn't just for Windows, though: it works... Read More ? 8-bit video games 10 Retro Emulators To Play Early 80s Home Consoles On Your PC (1981-1986) 10 Retro Emulators To Play Early 80s Home Consoles On Your PC (1981-1986) Read More ? 80s music 11 Free Electronic New Wave Synth Pop Albums: A Depeche Mode Tribute [Sound Sunday] 11 Free Electronic New Wave Synth Pop Albums: A Depeche Mode Tribute [Sound Sunday] Read More ? Is it horrible clothing and hairdos? 80s TV shows YTTM: View Popular Videos From the 60s, 70s, 80s... YTTM: View Popular Videos From the 60s, 70s, 80s... Read More ? No matter what pops into your mind first, we all have a very distinct feeling of what the 80s were like, whether we actually spent time in them or not.

The 80s, however, are about more than (arguably) bad music and style. Many amazing things happened in the 80s, most of which, ironically, look ridiculous today. So which are they, ridiculous or amazing? How do they compare to what we have today? And what would today’s technology have looked like in the 80s? Join me on a trip back in time to find out!

80s Technology

One of the best parts about remembering the 80s is looking at what technology was like back then. There’s nothing like looking at an ad for a 10 megabyte hard disk costing a whopping $3,495 to make you realize how far we’ve come. The crazy ad below is only one of 10 vintage hard drive ads 10 Vintage Hard Drive & Memory Ads That Question Value For Money 10 Vintage Hard Drive & Memory Ads That Question Value For Money Today, hard disk space and memory are just two of the many things we take for granted in the world of technology. Computers are fitted with drives that can hold terabytes upon terabytes of data.... Read More you should check out. Don’t forget to read the fine print!

But in order to be in the market for a hard drive like the one above, you’d first have to own a computer. Rather revolutionary, the whole idea of owning your own computer, isn’t it? It sure is, according to this old Apple ad. But at less than $2500, they’re downright affordable! They’ve always been revolutionary, haven’t they?

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But wait, did I say there’s nothing like looking an an expensive 10MB hard drive to realize how far we’ve come? I was wrong. The Freedome Phone, also known as the superhero phone, is bound to make you see our progress.

image credit: VintageAdBrowser

This device makes ordinary telephones obsolete. Get ready to throw away your iPhone!

If you’re not convinced yet, or it it doesn’t seem quite 80s enough, I found just what you need. If this is not the epitome of the 1980s, I’m not sure what is.

Image credit: VintageAdBrowser

80s Music Technology

As much as I would like to share some really cool Prince or Salt N’ Pepa videos, we’re still a tech blog, and as such, we’re more interested in the music technology of the 1980s. How do you listen to music today? Do you buy albums on iTunes? Do you prefer to stream on Spotify? Or maybe you’re stuck without any of those goodies, which are available in only some parts of the world, and still have to download your music from sketchy sources, or, *gulp*, buy CDs?

In the 80s, music choices were a little bit more limited.

Image credit: VintageAdBrowser

OK, that’s not being fair. There were more than just Walkmans in the 80s, as this truly awesome General Electric commercial clearly reminds us:

80s Gaming

There’s much to say about 1980s gaming. This was the decade the NES 4 Websites To Play NES Games For Free & Through The Browser 4 Websites To Play NES Games For Free & Through The Browser Just recently, I put out an article outlining some of my favorite RPGs for the SNES and showed MUO readers how they can experience those games through a web interface. Not everyone has the time... Read More came into our lives, and many of us spent our time typing “cd games” into old IBM computers, loading some beeping game or another. But when you really think about it, that’s not much different from today. We still have consoles, we still have computer games, and we definitely still have beeping. The games themselves are different, the graphics are different, but the environment is still very similar. You sit on a chair. You play. Except when it comes to arcades.

Video-game arcades still exist today, but it’s just not the same. Personally, I completely forgot what it used to be like, until I found this amazing video full of vintage footage from old arcades. It’s a bit long, but it’s worth it!

What If…

When reminiscing about the 80s, you can’t help but think, “What if?” What if the things we have today were available back in the 80s? I’m not talking about smartphones or tablets — if that technology were available back in the 80s, it would not have been the 80s — it’s more about websites, apps, and games we have today. How would those have looked like on 80s technology?

A YouTube channel called SquirrelMonkeyCom has gone to the trouble of recreating thing like Wikipedia, Google, Twitter and YouTube for us, imagining what they would have looked like in the 80s (and 90s, but who cares about that old decade?).

Do you really miss those good old 80s games? Ever imagined what today’s Angry Birds would have looked like back then? This short and sweet video depicts a surprisingly accurate 80s version of the popular game. Wish I could play it back then!

Remember how you had to get an encyclopedia for every little thing you wanted to find out? No? Well, there used to be no other way. But if we had Wikipedia back then, it could have saved us a lot of time and heavy lifting. With that amount of information available offline, it’s no wonder there’s only 10512 kilobytes free disk space.

Have you ever wondered where the idea for Modern (Metro) UI came from? Could it have been an early DOS version? Who knows?

Bring It Back!

Would you? After this trip back in time, do you miss the 80s more or less than before? What do you miss the most? If you ask me, I don’t miss much — the charm of vintage is there just because it’s vintage — but feel free to prove me wrong in the comments!

Image credit: VintageAdBrowser

  1. Dan Mckrell
    September 28, 2016 at 2:02 am

    I miss the drive-Ins, arcades, some of the music. The American dream seemed more attainable. People still had pride and were employed. Communication was more personable. Workers with longevity were respected. We didn't have the violence, heroin deaths, and terrorism like today. Families were more intact. Teenage mischief was just mischief. Better sports back then too. People still had enough self dignity not to act a certain way in public. Less corporate greed versus today.

  2. Don
    March 8, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    "..in that infamous decade," Really??

    To the Author: That's your opinion of the 80's. I am truly grateful to have experience that decade as a teen.

    Enjoy your rap, hip-hop , political correct, & Liberal ways.

  3. Joe the other Guy
    December 16, 2014 at 4:15 am

    I miss the 80's because I was younger. Simple statement true enough but it's how I feel. Not that I'm not appreciative of my life today but I, like many people, sometimes feel like I could have done so much more with myself. I know, this is NOT technology speak or does it say anything about the fashion. I remember how much nicer I dressed and coordinated as a guy of that age. Today it's pretty much t shirt and jeans. But the 80's were awesome, to use a worn out word of the era. I wouldn't actually have had it any other way. By the way I was NOT a fan of computers then. That was the world of the geeks but I eat my words as so many of those geeks went on to build million, and billion, dollar empires that the rest of us can only dream of.

  4. Fik of borg
    July 22, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    I don't understand why everybody have bad opinion and make fun of the 80s, it was the best decade!

    All decades have good things and bad things, notoriously fashions (despised years later, but then everyone followed them). We had a lot of fun in the 80s, the night scene and disco music was the best, and technology was advanced enough to be fun and useful, and simple enough to be understandable and "tinker-able".

    Or perhaps it is that I was in my 20s then.

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 24, 2013 at 6:52 am

      I think you're right, every decade has good and bad things. I think the 80s was so revolutionary and so unique, it's the most fun to make fun of. I also think it was a great decade, which is why I enjoy reminiscing even more.

      • Fik of borg
        July 24, 2013 at 11:48 am

        Probably. The tree that bears fruit is the one that get stones thrown at.

        Also I had hair on my head.

  5. Lamees A
    July 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    back then we had an atari, and it was our first game console :)

  6. Mark
    July 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    aaaahhhhh...thanks for the walk down memory lane...as if the 80's was that far back...**chuckle**

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 17, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      I'd say 25-30 years is far enough. :) Even the 90s seem like ages ago!

  7. Patrick S
    July 17, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Why dis the '80s (actually there are plenty of reasons to - junk bonds, big hair and parachute pants)? We made the best of what technology was available. 10MB hard disk? Considering that your average word processing file size was less than 1KB as opposed to the multi-megabyte ones you get today, 10MB would last u quite a long time. Sure it may look primitive, but we wouldn't be where we are today without it.

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 17, 2013 at 10:50 am

      I guess something about my writing style did not really come through, or else, there's a weird confusion between thinking something is funny and thinking it's unimportant.

      Is it funny to think about 10MB hard drives costing $3000? Yes. Does that mean I would throw them in the trash, believing today's technology would spontaneously grow on a tree? Of course not. Looking back at what we used to have is funny, that does not mean there was something wrong with what we had back then. It's all in good humor.

  8. Navanski
    July 17, 2013 at 9:34 am

    This article is so obviously written by someone who is just that little bit too young to actually remember some of the stuff.
    How can this be written with the omission of the Sony Walkman, Atari games consoles, CBM PET, Comodore 64?

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 17, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Thanks for the compliment. :) I admit, I was a kid in the 80s, not a teenager or an adult, but I also did not attempt to mention every piece of technology that existed in the 80s. Just wanted to share some fun things I found. I did ask for more suggestions, so thanks for giving them.

  9. Dave
    July 17, 2013 at 6:27 am

    In the early 80´s we were selling Corvus 5mb hard drives shared by Apple II computers for astronomic amounts of money. When I called for tech support on an issue I was told that no one else had done that in UK, please let them know if it worked!

    Happy days on the bleeding edge :-)

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 17, 2013 at 10:45 am

      No one else has done it in the UK! That's great. :)

  10. William hazard
    July 17, 2013 at 12:31 am

    I remember even older days. In 1977 I built my first computer, a Heathkit with a cassette for storage, but my Shaklee inventory was too big for the tape to hold. So I bought an Altair kit and built it. I was learning to program but there was no place to learn. I got hold of some Basic programs and began learning by studying them. I programmed a doctor program for my brother-in law and he we bought a 10 MB 14 inch hard drive and was in business. I eventually ended up with 2 computer stores ans a service organization.

    Today I'm a professional photographer and I'm always amazed with the amount of free learning materials available. I sure wish that was available in 1977.

    William Hazard

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 17, 2013 at 10:44 am

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  11. TheNikonKnight
    July 17, 2013 at 12:22 am

    I was a kid in the 80's. I wanted to get that Apple IIe but being a kid - I could not afford it and my parents weren't going to buy one. So I got a paper route and was able to get an Atari 2600 as well as a Commodore Vic-20. My parents eventually upgraded to a C64. I went "online" before the Internet was in use in the mid 80's on a BBS called Ddial. I played games "online" via CompuServe racking up hundreds of $ on parents phone bill (the loved me for that). I also subscribed to multiple computer magazines, such as Compute, Byte, and Run.
    The games I enjoyed were: Adventure, Yars revenge, Astroids for the 2600; and Micro League Baseball, Hardball!, Summer Games, Telengard, Mission Impossible, Zork 1-3, and the Ultima 1 - 4. I liked using a Kowola Pad to help me draw naked ladies on my computer. Yep, I was a geek with hormones.
    The best thing about the 1980s was that I did not have much (if any) responsibility back then and goofed around playing a lot of games. I still got outside a lot being on baseball and soccer teams. A lot of kids these days just don't get out and exercise enough. I am glad we didn't have cell phones back then. Even though I have a cell phone I don't use it much if I don't have to. The cool thing about being an adult is being able to buy a nice computer rig and killer photography equipment. The crappy part about being an adult is that I have to go to work and pay taxes.

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 17, 2013 at 10:41 am

      Thanks for the comment! Very nostalgic. :) I used to play games on our C64 before I was even toilet trained, I think. :) And BBSes! Should have mentioned those. I was using them up until less than 10 years ago (can you believe it?), so they're not connected to the 80s in my mind.

      Fun times!

  12. dragonmouth
    July 16, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    What you so glibly dismiss in your snarky article is that without 80s technology we would have none of today's gewgaws. Actually, if I remember correctly, back in the 80s there were clueless pundits, not so different from yourself, who were writing snarky articles about 1950 technology, music, clothes, etc. And in 30 years all the technology you gush about as being so cutting edge, will be put down in snarky articles as "quaint and vintage."

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 17, 2013 at 10:38 am

      Ah dragonmouth. Do you really think I would throw away 80s technology? Of course it's the basis for what we have today, just as today's technology is the basis for what we'll have in 30 years.

      Does that mean it's not funny to think back and remember what we used to have then? If you don't find it amusing, no problem, but being amused or thinking something is funny does not equal to thinking it's not important. There's quite a difference there.

  13. owsleyskid
    July 16, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    ~ 8MB ~$10,000 for the drive, swappable diskpack 10 platters, weighed 10 pounds. Wrote my first COBOL program on a CDC Cyber 18/20 that had one of these in 1979

  14. Bobby
    July 16, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Wow, using an ad for an Apple computer as your basis for how much a home computer costs in the 1980s? Did the Atari 800XL just not register? More people had systems OTHER THAN the expensive Apple IIe.
    The 80s had good music. Your statement is just an opinion, not fact. 80s fashion had some good things like aerobics leotards, Danskin, and lots of sexy lycra. It was classic and got better, even today. The Cordless phone was used in your home - you're forgetting The Brick which was a true cell phone.
    And as far as video games go, 1983 was a big one for the venerable Big 3 - Colecovision, Intellivision, and the #1 Atari 2600. Nintendo actually approached Atari when it began its plans to being the Famicom to the US but it was too busy with its own things. Did nothing before the NES even come to mind?
    Sounds like you didn't even live in the 80s.

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 17, 2013 at 10:35 am

      Hi Bobby,

      Sorry you had to get so angry about this article, which was only meant for fun.

      I indeed lived through most of the 80s, but nevertheless I never attempted to portray every piece of technology that existed at the time, only those that left an impression on me. In addition, the Apple ad is there not for the cost, but for the ad itself, which I found amusing. I guess you didn't. :)

      The 80s were an interesting decade, otherwise I would not have written this post at all. Your comment would have been much more useful and interesting had you simply contributed what you remember and miss from the 80s, instead of bashing the article and getting angry.

  15. Robert S
    July 16, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Actually when I first saw the Metro interface DOS is one of the first things I thought of.

  16. Serra
    July 16, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    I love "Doctor Howser Personal Diary" in the last video. Nice to include Doogie, since he was so big in the 80's. :P

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