While most people were too busy blow waving their hair in the 1980s, a few were developing some really cool things. With the power of hindsight and a strong sense of unearned privilege we can now look back at their inventions and say “What a load of crap they were!” Let’s take a look at some 1980s inventions that wowed us then and make us laugh now.
Cool 1980s inventions – 3 1/2 inch Floppy Disks
After the realization that 5 1/4 inches of floppy is just too much disk, a consortium of companies agreed that it was not the size that counts and introduced the smaller 3 1/2 inch floppy. This floppy wasn’t actually floppy at all. It was hard. The reason that it was hard was probably that with its new 1.44 MB storage capacity, it was now big enough to store porn. Zing! But seriously, for a high tech storage system, it made a great Frisbee!
Cool 1980s inventions – The Wrist Information System
The Seiko UC-2000 was released in 1984. A distant relative of the Nintendo Power Glove this portable computer gave the wearer the power of an awesome 2 Kilobytes of data right at their finger tips. Boasting a massive 10 X 4 character display the slightly larger model came with the ability to add an optional spool fed printer. Needless to say these impractical gadgets weren’t good for anything except calculating the tip at the end of a meal.
Cool 1980s inventions – The First Mobile Phone
The first ever commercially available mobile phone the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x went on sale in 1983. This brick of a unit allowed people on the go to communicate with one another without having to be tied to a desk. The downside was that for a little under $4000 dollars U.S. you had to mortgage your house to afford one. The DynaTAC 8000x boasted several powerful features including a 30 minute call battery life and the ability to store 30 of your favorite phone numbers. The other major feature was of course that it could be used as a dumbbell to tighten and tone your arms.
Cool 1980s inventions – The Walkman
Technically an invention of the 70’s, the Sony Walkman was released in the U.S. and the U.K. in 1980. This rigidly cumbersome unit allowed trendy people to listen to music while they were on the go through a headset that resembled Robo-Cop’s helmet. Each cassette held a miserly 60 minutes of music and the only way to choose your favorite song was to fast forward to the right spot of the tape. Despite these obvious problems, the Walkman was still the must have item of the early 1980’s.
Cool 1980s inventions – Max Headroom
Max Headroom was a 1980’s television character based on the idea of computer generated artificial intelligence (AI). Of course the technology at the time could not produce artificial intelligence so they dressed a man up in makeup, gave him an annoying stutter and slapped some super cheesy visual effects over the top. Max’s back story said that he had been created from the memories of a reporter named Edison Carter who became comatose after a car accident. He was named Max Headroom after the last thing that Edison saw…a Max Headroom 2.3m sign hanging above a car park entrance. So popular was Max at the time he even got a gig as spokesman for the terrible marketing failure that was New Coke.
The funniest Max Headroom moment came on 22nd November 1987 when two television stations in Chicago had their broadcast signals hijacked. An unknown man was televised wearing a Max Headroom mask muttering gibberish. The appearance ended with the Max Headroom impostor bearing his ass and spanking it with a flyswatter. No one was ever charged over the incident.
Cool 1980s inventions – New Coke
When the big wigs at Coke decided to reformulate the flavor of their flagship drink, no one expected the backlash that ensued. By 1983 Pepsi had began to outsell Coke in supermarkets with their fresh new image appealing to the youth of the day. Coke figured a change was needed to revitalize their brand and recapture their share of the younger market. The new, hip version of Coke was released April 23rd, 1985 and was immediately met with skepticism. Uproar began in the American South East, the original home of Coca Cola and soon engulfed the country like a large, hungry man eating a doughnut. In fact the public backlash was so significant, Coke hired psychiatrists to listen in on the 1000’s of angry phone calls they received. The Psychiatrists noted that many of the callers displayed emotions similar to that of someone suffering the loss of a close loved one.
Less than three months after New Coke’s introduction, Coca Cola announced that they would be bringing back the original formula. They did and it was named Coke Classic. Ironically the reintroduction of their original recipe significantly spiked sales and they recaptured the market lead from Pepsi. Some say it was all a very clever ploy to reestablish the American peoples love for Coca Cola, however most claim it to be the greatest marketing gaff of the 20th century.