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Technology in the 80s: How it Changed the World

Technology in the 80s took a giant leap forward and changed the way we look at, and interact with, the world forever. And, while everyone knows about the high-profile gadgets of the decade (think Atari and Walkmans), you might be surprised to learn just how much of our high-tech 2020s world has its roots in the big-hair decade.

Atari 2600

The king of all 80s tech! This video game console was the first to provide color and sound, as opposed to just black-and-white or tones. The technology used helped pave the way for the technology of today, and it also made superstars of the games that Atari offered. What kid, after all, didn’t want to play Pac-Man and Space Invaders on the newest technology?

The console was first released in 1977, but it took a few years for Atari to really take off. By 1982, over 30 million units had been sold. You can still buy Atari games today at retailers like Amazon!


In 1979 Sony unveiled its cassette player, the Walkman. It was groundbreaking technology for music lovers to listen to their favorite tunes while they were out and about, and even non-aficionados had to get their hands on one.

The Walkman is still considered one of Sony’s most iconic inventions, even though its heyday was only a few years long.

Sony’s technology has evolved to be more sophisticated, and today it sells everything from TVs to laptops, but the original Walkman is still as popular with music lovers as ever.

The Home Computer

This computer revolutionized how we worked at home. It offered high computing power with games that were more complex than those on other technology of the time.

It helped to create a new industry that allowed people without access to an expensive, mainframe computer at work or school use one in their homes instead.

The Apple II was the first model available (debuting in 1977) and it ushered in this era of technology while other models soon followed: Commodore 64, IBM PC-Jr., ZX Spectrum, and more.

The Home Computer was a major technology in the 80s because it paved way for future innovation of things like laptops and game consoles.

Commodore 64

And speaking of the Commodore 64, it was one of the most popular and successful home computers in history.

It was introduced by Commodore International Corporation (a company started by Jack Tramiel) in 1982, and it had a number of attractive features: 64 KB RAM memory for graphics or sound; BASIC programming language built-in; 65×25 text mode with 40 columns on screen; 40×25 characte mode with 80 columns on screen.

Commodore was popular with the technology market because it was one of the few companies that competed with Apple.

It wasn’t long until Commodore 64 had a CD-ROM drive, which allowed for games to be played on disk instead from cassette tapes.

The Commodore brand went out of business in 1994 when they couldn’t compete with IBM or Apple anymore – but the Commodore 64 computer still lives on today.

Apple Macintosh

Apple’s Mac computer was a breakthrough in home computers for technology consumers looking for an easy-to-use model that wouldn’t completely break the bank (though they were not cheap!).

The Macintosh commercial featured a woman sitting on the floor playing with her dog, which is now known as one of the most iconic commercials in history.

One major selling point about the Apple brand is that they were seen to be more up-to-date on technology and innovative.

Apple also introduced the Apple II computer in 1977.

The first Mac OS was released on January 24, 1984 and it looked much different than Windows which came out later that year.


First released in 1976 by JVC, VHS technology was the first technology to allow for a long recording time on analog video tapes. (VHS stands for Video Home System).

A direct competitor to Sony’s existing Betamax tapes and player/recorders, VHS allowed families to record movies from their TV onto a cassette tape which they could then watch whenever they wanted as well as being able to rewind, fast forward, or pause.

Eventually, VHS won the war with Betamax, and it became one of the most ubiquitous in-home technologies if the 1980s and 1990s.

However, technology is always changing – now there are DVD’s, Blu-rays, and digital technology, all conspiring to make VHS all buy obsolete, a dinosaur of the past.

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