Here is a listing of the technology and some aspects of society that I saw through my eyes during 1980. This cannot be all encompassing, of course, but it’s just some food for thought. I am unconcerned about the historical revisionism of Wikipedia, in which it is implied that if a technology existed for super rich people or a prototype in a lab in Belgium, that it existed in my life. (If you study wiki long enough, you’d be under the impression everything in 2010 was already around in 1974, which is a lie.) I like to muse about how American society has changed, and how each generation is born in a different era. Join me on an arbitrary quantum leap to 1980-
My grandparents were allowed to smoke on airplanes.
Hollywood and novels were not getting that the Cold War was losing steam.
Apple and Amiga were for high-IQ chess club and Dungeons & Dragons fans. Floppy disks were big and fragile. Computer monitors were usually one color, and my first one was green.
The Atari 2600 ruled, no matter what documentaries and history books say today about how they were losing money and how their games were crappy.
I alo loved handheld LCD battery games.
My rich great uncle had a big car phone.
Main form of communication: rotary telephone (no need to dial area codes for local calls), operator assistance- like you could dial ’0′ and ask anything. U.S. Mail: sending letters and cards with stamps were very popular. Pen pals were encouraged.
Television was so influential, and with only a handful of network channels and generally limited choices, everyone was on the same page and watching the same things (regional local programming aside). And, thanks to syndication, a child in 1980 was able to watch (and enjoy) tons of influential TV shows, movies, and cartoons, from the past. My grandfather’s TV had rabbit ears and an infrared remote control that sometimes worked. Black and white TV sets could still be found in many households, usually as a second TV, but for many seniors, it was their only TV. I totally accepted black and white TVs shows, such as The Twilight Zone and The Three Stooges. What gets me frustrated is that older people in 2010 don’t get that someone in their 30′s in 2010 was exposed to reruns from different eras. Also, that exposure is much different than the kid today who watches YouTube or DVDs- when I was a kid I thought those reruns on WWOR and WPIX were just as fresh and valid as the network programs.
Newspapers were extremely popular. Heck, in New York we got the early edition and late edition.
Radio was very popular for new music…in fact, the only way to hear new music.
Yeah, I know there was a VHS vs Betamax War in some remote past, but in 1980 my family could not afford a luxury of a VCR. In fact those who did have a VCR were hardcore movie buffs only.
Records and cassettes were popular. I still saw some 8-track tapes around, too. Loved my tape recorder.
Stores and banks had security cameras.
Polaroid cameras were popular because you didn’t have to get the film developed.
Beepers and pages were pretty localized, like at a hospital or on-site company. Same with walkie-talkies. For civilians, pay-phones were the only practical option to communicate from the street, and there were plenty of pay phones around.
Bosses on TV and movies (and I guess in real life) sat in a private big office with a female secretary out in front. He had a telephone, newspaper, and cigar, with the door closed all the time. I guess he read sales charts all day and had some meetings.