12 August 2012
On Sale: Technology For 1980 And 1981...
The Tandy Electronics Catalogue, 1980-81, provides rich pickings for those wishing to relive technological memories of the first two years of the decade...
"Realistic prices"? Well, they were back then!
Love that wood effect surround - a popular feature on electronic gadgetry since the 1960s.
Note that the cheapest radio cassette recorder was £44-95 and the most expensive £129-95. Even the lowest price was a pretty serious cash layout for many people back then.
Radio cassette recorders were objects of desire for me and my mates in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Personal stereos were invented in 1979 in Japan, and although a few arrived here in 1980 under the name "Sony Stowaway" I'd never heard of them and couldn't have afforded one if I had. They weren't cheap and my family were very short on the dosh.
Ghetto blasters were further down the 1980s road, and so the big thing, the wonderful, sophisticated technology to own in 1980, was a radio cassette recorder. It took some saving for, but I convinced my parents that it would be tremendously economical in the long term. Just think of the benefits - no more buying records, you could just tape them off the radio. Actually, this wasn't as straight forward as it seemed as most DJs liked to "rabbit" over the intros and endings of the songs they played and so it was difficult to get a decent chunk of music, but we persevered and were happy with what we did get.
My radio cassette had a condenser microphone, so more fun could be had by making parodies of the BBC's radio soaps, Waggoners' Walk and The Archers.
"Oh gosh! Mr Tyson's fallen down the stairs! One must phone for an ambulance!" or "How dare you, Mr Gabriel, I'm a respectable woman, now are you going to eat those flies' cemetaries, or aren't you?"
We made dozens of episodes, with continuing storylines and daft cliffhangers.
Was it fun?
We thought so!
Tony Blackburn advertises Plustron in a newspaper ad from September 1980.
Love those "new for '81" cuddly radios!
The Tandy AM Space Radio... the personal stereo did not arrive in England until 1980, as stated elsewhere in this post, but this was an interesting alternative. The lady appears to be enjoying herself...
Radio controlled fun... Vroom, Vroom!!!
We weren't allowed to use calculators at school. I was already quite familiar with the little perishers from TV appearances, but when I first handled one at work in 1982, I was initially a little flummoxed!
Many developments were to take place in the 1980s which would bring computers into our homes and transform our lives, but in 1980 they were for boffins, Dr Who, ERNIE and making mistakes on your utility bills.
The TRS 80 looks a bit like a microwave oven to me. Microwave ovens, although first marketed in the 1960s, were something else that I had never clapped eyes on back in 1980. Way out of our price range.
Early in the 1980s, a cafe in my neighbourhood installed one for heating up food and the cry went out amongst us heathens: "It uses radiation! It'll kill you!"
By the end of the decade, microwave ovens were pretty much a part of everyday life - even my dear old mum had one! Read more about the 1980s microwave oven revolution here.