Things From The 80s Your Kids Won’t Understand


Ancient Computers

The youth of today are used to being able to open up a laptop or turn on an iPad and expect rapid internet connectivity. The internet wasn’t even an option and computers were mainly for doing calculations, storing data and making graphs.

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Answering Machines The Size Of Bricks

“Hey, how you doing? Sorry, I can’t get through. Why don’t you leave your name and your number? And I’ll get back to you.” These were the classic words that millions would use as their answer message on the original answering machines. Since then, answering technology has become more integrated into mobile phones. However, before they became popular, this was the typical way that people received messages if they weren’t at home to answer the phone. Strange, right?

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What’s A Betamax?

As you can see, the Sony Betamax is very much fixed in time for its retro design alone. Even the name sounds like it’s from another era. These machines were what people originally used to record their favorite shows and movies. Then, the VCR came along and became the mainstream form of TV recording. As a result, Betamax became somewhat obsolete, but people who grew up in the 80s remember that brief period when it was an essential household item.

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What’s Super About It?

No matter how young you were, anyone could use a Super 8 Camera to document their little investigations or make homemade videos. What made these little cameras so popular was how easy they were to use. Nowadays, everyone still has the ability to record videos via their smartphones, but this was the original way that anyone could be the next Steven Spielberg. There was even a sci-fi movie titled Super 8 that revolved around the use of such a camera.

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The Original Nextflix

Long before the times of digital TV and streaming websites such as Netflix, there was this – VHS players. Each VHS cassette only played one movie or show. This meant that one’s collection could take up a serious amount of space in your house. The amount of tape inside the cassette determined how much footage could be stored inside it. VHS was the dominant video format in the 80s. Amazingly though, DVD’s are gradually becoming obsolete as well.

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One Photo Per Disk

Nowadays, it’s normal to be able to store gigabytes worth of photos and music on your smartphone. But back in the day, it would take at least five floppy disks to save just a 2MB image. It goes to show how far we have come in the last 30 years. However, imagine giving one of these bad boys to your child and asking them what they thought it was. We’re betting that they wouldn’t have a clue what it actually is.

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Even Paper Was Different

Sometimes, it’s just the little differences that go a long way. Take this Dot Matrix Printer Paper sheet, for example. Although it can trace its roots back to the mid-1920s, this form of paper was regularly used by people for another 80 years. In recent times though, this style of printing has gone out of fashion since the production of mainstream digital printers. The new generation will never understand how annoying it was to remove those edges.

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Cat-Eating Aliens?

One of the most popular characters of 80s TV wasn’t even a human being, but a puppet. Gordon Shumway, better known as ALF, was a cat-eating extraterrestrial creature who ends up living with the middle-class Tanner family. The alien drank alcohol and ate cats. Although ALF’s adult humor was acceptable back then, it’s safe to say that today’s TV networks wouldn’t be allowed to broadcast this type of show on a regular network. Take modern shows like Family Guy and Rick & Morty, for example.

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Games On The Go

Long before smartphones were a thing and kids could just download as many games as they wanted, there was the Nintendo Game Boy. This portable games console revolutionized the way that kids played video games and was a must-have for every child. You could rest assured that most of your friends would be trying to beat each other’s Tetris records. With that said, the Game Boy has evolved with time, but nothing compares to the beautiful simplicity of this original 80s classic.

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Original Blockbusters

ET: The Extraterrestrial is just one example of how the 80s was the golden age of the blockbuster. This decade made viewers believe that anything was possible. With other classic movies like Raiders Of The Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Back To The Future, the 80s was just a magical time for cinema when so many films simply had the ability to wow and awe the youth. Blockbusters today just don’t have the same sort of kick that the originals had.

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Taste From The Past

Although it was only discontinued in the 00’s, Slice Soda was incredibly popular and first hit the taste buds of 80s’ tongues. It was a huge success upon release and inspired many other drinks such as Sunkist and Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid orange soda. In fact, at one point, Slice was so big that it had a staggering 3.2 percent of the soft drink market. Sadly, the youth of today will never get the opportunity to know what it tasted like…

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Born To Rock

One key detail that made the 80s so different was its music scene. In the early 80s, one of the most popular genres of music was Glam Metal. Some of the prime examples of glam musicians included Kiss, Van Halen and Alice Cooper, to name a few. However, what seemed to make the genre stand out the most wasn’t necessarily the music, but rather, the way the musicians looked. Bands were renowned for wearing flashy, leather clothes and sporting big, shaggy hair.

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Old Wave Music

Another music genre that is synonymous with 80s culture is New Wave. Although tracing its origins back to 70s England, this particular style of rock music crossed over into the U.S. charts and became the normal sound of the 80s. Bands such as Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Blondie, and Tears For Fears seemed to be in everyone’s record collection during this period. Amazingly, your kids have probably never heard of any of these names. What an absolute tragedy.

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What’s An Atari?

At one point, the Atari 7800 was huge. Around the same time that the Nintendo NES came out, this games console was the prime contender, and what every kid was drooling over when Christmas time came around. The updated Atari improved considerably since the previous model and classic games that kids would play on it include Ms. Pac-Man, Asteroids, and Donkey Kong Jr., to name a few. This was a must-have, but let’s face it, your kid has no idea what an “Atari” is.

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Old-Fashioned Cartoon

If your kids weren’t singing the catchy theme song to the classic cartoon show The Get Along Gang, then something was seriously wrong. The show that kickstarted in 1983 was about a dozen young animals who went on adventures together. Although it only ran for 14 episodes, the show left a huge impression on 80s kids and is one of the shows that people fondly remember from that era. Nowadays, kids cartoon shows just don’t have the same sort of charm!

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Pop Royalty

You may be thinking to yourself – of course my kids know who these two are! Believe it or not, you’d be surprised just how many kids today don’t actually know the music of Michael Jackson and Madonna, undoubtedly two of the biggest pop stars of the 80s and possibly all time. At the beginning of the MTV era, Wacko Jacko and Madonna revolutionized the music industry with their seemingly endless string of iconic music videos. Go on, show your kids “Thriller,” we dare you…

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80s Breakfast

In a day and age where health and safety are at the forefront of everything we do, these cereals hark back to a time when a cereal brand’s aesthetics were further up the list of priorities. For a lot of these long gone brands, it was hard to tell what was more colorful – the packaging or the actual cereal. Whatever the answer may be, there’s is no denying that kids of the 80s had fond memories of their childhood breakfasts.

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Classic TV

Another TV show that is unmistakably 80s was the action-adventure series The A-Team. Just the theme song alone is enough to take people into 80s memory lane. It was the strange assortment of H.M. Murdock, B.A. Baracus, Hannibal Smith and Templeton Peck who came together to become soldiers of fortune. The show is ultimately what put Mr. T on the map and its many allusions to the Vietnam War are what make this hit show so beautifully fixed in time.

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Cult Classics

Originally a toy line designed to challenge the success of Star Wars toys, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe evolved into its own animated TV series. Needless to say, the show was a huge hit with kids of the 80s and eventually spawned a cheesy film adaption, starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man. It was one of the most popular shows of the decade and developed a cult following ever since. You can even watch it with your kids as it is now available on Netflix.

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Go Big Or Go Home

Everyone has had that hilarious moment when they see photos of their mothers or even their grandmothers with that “big hair.” This style became prominent in the late 70s and was a firm favorite in the 80s too. Although it was originally normal for just woman to sport the style, the trend would eventually become popular with men too, as you can see with Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates. Ultimately, big hair is very much out of style.

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Clash Of The Titans

If Michael Jackson and Madonna were the two biggest pop stars of the 80s, then these two had action movies covered. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were the faces of the action film genre during a decade when it was at its absolute peak. The former governor made a name for himself with flicks such as The Terminator, Predator, and Commando, to name a few. While his closest rival, Stallone, was renowned for his role in the classic Rocky, as well as Rambo.

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Stop! Hammer Pants

Stop. Hammer Time! These were the words that were sang by millions when MC Hammer released his breakout hit single “U Can’t Touch This.” But it was the baggy pants that the hip-hop star made popular in the 80s and created a short-lived trend that has been dead for a long time. That’s not to say that Hammer didn’t make an absolute killing after popularizing the pants and 80s babies will forever have those pants ingrained in their mind.

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Reign Of The Brat Pack

In the heat of 80s cinema came the Brat Pack, a supergroup of actors who starred in a variety of cheesy, coming-of-age movies. The most notable example came in 1985 when John Hughes directed the classic The Breakfast Club. Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson are a group of misfits sitting out Saturday detention. The movie has become an absolute cult classic, but you wonder just how long that status will remain as time goes on…

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Music On The Go

In 1979, Sony’s co-founder had the Walkman created, and the name suggests exactly what the device sets out to do. It is a portable device that allows you to listen to music on the go. Sounds familiar, right? Of course, most kids of today have an iPod or a smartphone to store as much music as they want. However, the 80s was the first time when people could listen to music this way, albeit via one tape cassette at a time.

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Hip Hop’s Golden Era

One of the most culturally important details about the 80s was that it was the decade that Hip-Hop was born. However, this isn’t exactly true. It is believed that Bronx-born DJ Kool Herc founded the original movement in the late 70s. But it would be the following decade when the culture started to truly take shape. The key features of Hip-Hop such as MCing, Djing, Breakdancing, and Grafitti were in full effect. Oh, how things have truly changed…

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Blast That Boombox

There was so much to Hip-Hop that made the 80s so unique. Take this photo, for example. In this image alone, there are three distinctive details that are strictly 80s. Radio Raheem from the Spike Lee movie Do The Right Thing is carrying a boombox with him – a sound system that is easy to take around and play music at earthshattering proportions. Also, Raheem has a flat hi-top fade, as well as four-knuckle rings with the words “Love” and “Hate” on them – classic 80s.

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The Legendary Pee-wee Herman

Along with your typically colorful 80s cereal comes the classic morning show Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Paul Reubens’ childlike persona was the highlight of many kids’ Saturday mornings during the late 80s. It was aimed at being a light-hearted version of Reubens original show, The Pee-wee Herman Show. Although it ended in the early 90s, it was a truly iconic children’s show and would be Paul Reubens’ most recognized role. For many 80s babies, Pee-wee is one of their most vivid memories.

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A Family Staple

Long before the Wii, XBox, and PlayStation came the Nintendo Entertainment System, better known as the NES. This games console quickly became the best-selling one of its time and was the platform for many of the most iconic games of all time. These include Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda, to name a few. Until the rise of the next generation of game consoles in the early 90s, the NES was the ultimate gaming essential.

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What Is This Peculiar Thing?

So we’ve covered the Sony Walkman, but kids of today must be wondering what actually went inside the little beauties. Well, look no further. The traditional cassette tape came into prominence in the 80s and completely changed the way we listen to music – for a while, at least. But imagine giving one of these to your child and watching them pull out the tape. They wouldn’t have a clue what was going on! Don’t even mention when those tapes go stuck in the cassette player…

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Absolutely Obsolete

Another device that worked as a personal information manager, long before smartphones came into existence, was the PDA. Short for a personal digital assistant, did you know that the first PDA was invented in 1984? The Psion Organizer was the first of its kind, which allowed users to write down and store whatever they wished. It was also a system to create databases such as address books, and phone numbers, etc. But once again, the Organizer became obsolete very fast.

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Dial ‘O’ For Old

To be fair, this type of phone was around long before the 80s. However, it was still heavily used by many during this time. Despite the fact some small circles still use the pretty little thing, electronic home phones have taken over as well as, of course, mobile phones. Of course, those who did have the rotary dial phone will remember how annoying it was to pull out the cord if they walked too far whilst in mid-conversation.

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Quintessential 80s

One of the quintessential 80s TV shows was the hit crime drama Miami Vice. Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas spent five season playing detectives Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs who worked together to crack down on the crime scene of 80s Miami. It is undoubtedly one of if not the most iconic show of the decade and, with its awesome mix of all things 80s and dark themes, was essential viewing. But the saddest part is that your kids have probably never heard of it…

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Mullets, on the other hand, are one fashion trend that most parents of today would like to see kept in the 80s. The mullet is pretty simple: it’s short on both the front and sides. However, it’s defining feature is the long strands of hair at the back. Obviously, at the time, it was what was in fashion. However, these days, it’s considered cruel to give one’s child such a dated hairstyle. Both this generation and the next are freaked out by the hair-do.

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Nowadays, the turntables that are used by pop stars and their DJs are engineered so that we can connect them to our laptops. They are used more for aesthetic purposes than for any other reason. But things were different back in the day, and the vinyl turntable was a vital part of the 70s music scene and bled into 80s culture in a very organic way. It was perfectly natural to go to a discotheque and hear the DJ scratch the newest hits over vinyl.

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Duran Duran

We are pretty sure that your kid probably hasn’t heard of this particular band. But believe it or not, Duran Duran was the most successful pop band on the 80s. Simon Le Bon and the gang brought new wave and synth pop to the forefront of pop music with hits such as “Girls On Film” and “The Reflex.” They have sold over 10 million records worldwide and are without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most quintessential 80s bands.

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