11 Gadgets That Made the ’80s and ’90s Awesome

Technology has come a long way since the 1980s. It’s hard to imagine life without some of the gadgets that make our lives so much easier. Let’s walk down memory lane as we look at some of the iconic gadgets of the 80s and 90s.

1. The Boombox

The Boombox
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A party in the 80s and 90s was only a real party if you had a boombox. There was no such thing as a Bluetooth-enabled smart speaker. No, we had a 50-pound box of electricity that could blast music off a cassette tape to get the dance floor hopping. The DJ had to have that perfect mix tape to make sure the party didn’t stop in between songs.

2. VHS Player

VHS Player
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No sleepover was complete without you and your friends popping in the latest VHS tape to watch at night. I remember begging my parents to take me to Blockbuster every weekend to pick out the hottest new release to watch at home. Not only could we watch our favorite movies from home, but we didn’t have to wait for commercials, and we could pause the movie for snack breaks.

3. Sony Walkman

Sony Walkman
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Gen Zers are spoiled with how easy it is to travel with music at hand. Not only did the Walkman let you play music on the go, but it was also a fashion statement. If you had a pair of headphones around your neck, you were one of the coolest kids on campus. Nowadays, a smartphone can do what the Walkman did 20 times over, but you still won’t look as cool with earbuds as the original metal headphones.

4. Nintendo Entertainment System

Nintendo Entertainment System
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The original NES was the console that started it all. Iconic games like Mario Brothers, Zelda, Duck Hunt, and Tecmo Bowl have given birth to a generation of video game players who are still avid gamers today. I spent hours playing these early video games, and my childhood would not have been the same without the Nintendo Entertainment System.

5. Simon Game

Simon Says game
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When my therapist asks me what’s the root of my lifelong anxiety, I’m going to point at this stupid game from the 80s. Why did it induce so much pressure? Its silly lights would flash, and it would blow up if you couldn’t replicate the pattern. I love/hate this game. Luckily, now I have real-life problems to overanalyze.

6. The Clapper

Woman clapping
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I thought this was going to change our lives forever. How cool was it that you could stay in your bed and clap, and the lights would turn off and on? “Clap on, Clap Off.” Even the commercial catchphrase was cool. Unfortunately, it wasn’t fun when a doorbell, dog bark, or sneeze would trigger the mechanism. It only took 40 years for the technology to advance to the point where, now, we can ask Alexa to turn something off instead of getting out of our comfy chairs.

7. Casio Calculator Watch

Casio Calculator Watch
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Before the invention of smartphones, we had to do math in our heads — unless we had a calculator on our wrists. Equipped with a calculator, alarm clock, and stopwatch, this watch made you an easy target for bullies asking you to do your homework. It gave your crush an easy answer of no when you asked them out. The joke’s on them. I’m sure the guys who wore these in high school now own a huge start-up company and are sitting on a billion dollars.

8. Pagers

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Putting that pager on your belt clip for the public to see was a statement in the 80s and early 90s. Cell phones were rare, so to stay in the loop, you needed a pager for your crew to find you. Only doctors and the most popular kids had them. How else were you supposed to know you were needed for an emergency surgery or to find out where the keg party was on a Saturday night?

9. Speak and Spell

Kid playing with teacher
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The Speak and Spell was one of the first toy games for kids. It was aimed at teaching young children how to spell and expanding their vocabulary. There were different cartridges for different games and learning levels. Almost every kid I know from my generation had one. I don’t know how well they worked because, to this day, I am still a horrible speller. At least they most likely kept me occupied for a little while.

10. Apple Macintosh 128K

Apple Macintosh 128K
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When Apple released this home computer in 1984, it changed the way people viewed computers. Although it was big and clunky, it proved that computers would most likely be a household item in the coming years. That prediction couldn’t have been more correct, as nowadays we have computers in our phones that are far more advanced than that model.

11. The Gameboy

The Gameboy
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Just when we thought video games couldn’t get any cooler, Nintendo dropped the Gameboy on us in 1989. This portable gaming device played video games outside and on the go. Those who were already addicted to gaming before fell deeper into the trenches. The idea of only playing video games while tethered to a TV now sounds archaic.


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