By Justin Powell
Contrary to popular belief, life in the United States existed before the invention of the smartphone. But ponder this: it has been 35 years since the Decade of Decadence began, 1980.
Safe to say the iPhone was only a theory back then, if that. Now really let that marinate for a minute. Almost thirty-two years have passed since the (still) highest selling music album in the history of the planet, Thriller, hit the shelves of record stores everywhere.
Record stores? What are those?
Take a trip down Memory Lane and bask in the nostalgia of the 80’s, the totally tubular decade that ushered in modern consumption of popular culture, including fashion, music, and technology.
Do you remember when the sneaker was king? Throughout the 1980’s, sneakers were the go-to shoe to strut your stuff in everywhere from the halls of junior high to the video game arcade.
Looking Back At Memory Lane
Brands such as Reebok, Puma, and LA Gear made both high and low-top shoes, with the popular look being white shoes with red or blue accenting colors.
Thanks to the meteoric rise of Michael Jordan, the Nike Air Jordan changed everything when the prototype was released in 1985.
Uniting suburbanites with inner-city dwellers, people of all walks of life relished the opportunity to make a fashion statement that could only be described as the bombdiggity.
Do you remember when Music Television (MTV) actually played music on television? Two prominent things happened in the 1980’s that affected the way we listen to music both personally and culturally with the introduction of the Sony Walkman to the United States and the launching of MTV on cable television.
While Sony wasn’t the first company to introduce a portable audio player, the Walkman featured an unprecedented combination of portability and privacy. It ran on two AA batteries and had a headphone jack with no external speaker, solely for personal use.
Thousands of consumers were ready for a compact, portable stereo, thus the Age of the Walkman was born. First introduced in 1980, the Walkman helped the cassette tape outsell vinyl records in 1983, and by 1986 the word “Walkman” made it in the Oxford English Dictionary, noted Meahgan Hair of Time.
On August 1st, 1981, Music Television went live on the air with programming consisting of music videos hosted by video jockeys.
As record companies quickly recognized the value of MTV as a promotional tool for artists, major money was invested in the production of music videos.
Totally Radical – A Look At The 80’s
Directors such as Spike Jonze (Her, Being John Malkovich) used music videos as a segue into feature films. Artists like Madonna, Prince, and Billy Idol benefited greatly with videos in heavy rotation, and MTV established itself as a cultural boundary-pusher (think Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” video in 1989.
One of the more interesting things about the 80’s is looking at what technology was like back then. Personal computers were revolutionary, yet expensive. A quick Google search of prices of hard disk drives will yield 80’s advertisements of two or three thousand dollars for a whopping 15 megabytes of memory (about three songs)!
Early personal computing was done mainly for data crunching, keeping records and word processors, which made the floppy disk invaluable during this time. Floppy disks were the primary storage device and standard way of distributing software, and played a critical role in the growth of the PC.
Now that you’ve journeyed back to the 1980’s, do you miss the decade more or less than before?
Do memories flood in of walking around the mall in your Reebok kicks with the hip Walkman jamming to Duran Duran? It is fun to look back on the decade with fondness of its vintage charm.