Those born in the 80’s and 90’s have witnessed a lot of changes over the years. As we took a leap over from one generation to another, we had to leave so many precious things behind. Things which may not be known by some. The items on this list were once deemed popular during a time that saw many technological advances. A lot of these things no longer exist, but looking back, they were the top of the line or something we had to have. Here, we are listing some popular things from back in the 80’s and 90’s, to take you back down memory lane.
1. The Walkman was an iconic portable cassette player, that allowed users to carry their beloved songs wherever they went.
Today, we take portable music for granted. Services such as YouTube Music, Spotify and others allow us to listen to music on the go. Before the internet, personal portable music didn’t exist until the Sony Walkman came along. Sony’s iconic portable cassette tape players went on sale on July 1, 1979 for $150. Sony was disappointed with initial sales. After a month, sales took off and the Walkman become one of Sony’s most successful items of all time.
Over the next few years, they transitioned to CDs, Mini-Discs, MP3s and finally, streaming music. Reports show that at the height of its sales, more than 400 million Walkman portable music players were sold; 200 million of them cassette players. By 2010, Sony retired the series. (source)
2. Pop-Pop boats were extremely popular among children during the 80’s and 90’s. It operated on candle or vegetable oil and made a distinct sound.
The pop-pop boat was an extremely popular toy which was basically a steam engine without any moving parts. It was mainly sold at exhibitions and fairs, and utilized heat to move through water; similar to a steam engine. Powered by a candle or vegetable oil burner, the boat, which was made out of tin plate, had a boiler and one or more exhaust tubes. Unlike conventional toys sold on the market today, there was no on/off switch.
In order to turn it on, water had to be filled in the boiler and exhaust tubes. Then, the vegetable oil burner was lit and placed inside the boat. The boat then starts moving forward by turning the water in the boiling chamber into steam, which forces water out of the ends of the tubes, propelling the boat forward. A vacuum is created as the water rushes out of the pipes and so more water is sucked in and then the cycle repeats. The cycle can repeat itself more than 5 times a second, giving the boat an almost continuous motion. (source)
3. Before the world of streaming movies online, VHS systems utilized video cassettes to play movies. Today, they are fossilized.
During the 80’s and 90’s, VHS tapes became the format of choice for millions of consumers. First released in Japan in late 1976, it arrived in the United States during early 1977. Since its arrival in the US, the technology changed the way people watched movies; changing the economics of the film industry. After the release of “The Lion King”, VHS tapes became extremely popular and reports show that “The Lion King” alone sold more than 30 million video cassettes in the US.
Then came BLOCKBUSTER, that started renting out movies. However, VHS tapes slowly began fading away by 1997, after DVDs were launched. By 2003, most stores stopped selling VHS tapes since they were transitioning towards DVDs, which was a thing of the future. According to Variety Magazine, the manufacturers of VHS made around $300 million in profit until 2006. Japan officially stopped producing VHS tapes and systems by 2016. (source)
4. Floppy Disks were by far the most ubiquitous means of data storage in the ’90s. Today, most people only know floppy disks as the icon which saves their work on applications such as Microsoft Word.
Long before USB sticks and external hard drives, capable of storing terabytes worth of data, there was only one way to transfer files from one computer to another. Floppy disks, a portable computer storage device, allowed users to handle data with ease. However, the largest capacity these rectangular plastic carriers could contain was 1.44 MB. So, if someone had to transfer 1 gigabyte of data, they would have needed 711 1.44 MB floppy disks. Today, storage devices are 50 times smaller and capable of storing terabytes worth of data.
The floppy disks were used with personal computers, notebook computers, and word processors. The disks consisted of flat, circular plates made of metal or plastic and coated with iron oxide. When the disk was inserted into a computer, the user was able to use the disk drive to magnetically imprint data onto the coating. Today, conventional drives make it easy to copy and simply paste information without all the hassle. (source)
5. Brick Game and Gameboys were the perfect companion to waste time as it contained an umpteen number of games (as much as 9999 in 1).
The Brick Game was a popular handheld game console in the late 1980’s to the early 1990’s. It was introduced mid-1980’s in China, originally as a clone variant of the original Tetris that dates back to 1984-1985. The LCD based system allowed users to play simple games styled after Tetris block matrixes. After it was introduced to the world, the Brick Game became extremely popular since they were affordable and found in almost all dollar stores or toy stores.
The Nintendo Game Boy was a handheld video game console that was introduced by Nintendo in 1989. The original Game Boy’s monochrome display allowed users to play games in color, unlike the black and white LCD display utilized by Brick Game. In order to gain popularity in the market, the company incorporated Tetris. In 1996, after soaring demands, Nintendo released a smaller, lighter variant, the Game Boy Pocket. Although Nintendo’s Game Boy was popular during the 1990’s, Brick Game still managed to be in most households since it was a cheap and affordable alternative to the Gameboy. (source)
6. Tazos were little circular disks that came with packets of chips. They became extremely popular in the 90’s and often had Looney Toons and Pokemon pictures on them. The popular chip toys were mostly available with Cheetos and Lays products.
Tazos were little circular disks that were found inside packets of chips made by Frito-Lay. Although they are similar to Pogs, Tazos contained different cartoon characters as well as a score value. People often collected the chips and engaged in a game to win Tazos from other players.
It was first sold in 1994, with a set of 100 tazos featuring the images of the Looney Tunes characters. However, when they gained popularity Frito-Lay and its subsidiaries started printing Disney characters, The Simpsons, Pokémon and other popular characters. By 2000, the industry started to see a decline in the fad after playing cards started gaining popularity. Today, the fossils exist as collectibles. (source)
7. Chat rooms and AOL Instant Messenger were once the window into a different world. The pioneering chat app, started in 1997, was the ancestor to the modern tweet and status update. Sadly, after text messaging and social media came to light, it started fading away.
For millions of people, it was their first experience with internet messaging. AIM paved the way for MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and other social media apps. It was the first big internet hit for young people from the 90’s. AOL Instant Messenger connected a generation to their classmates and crushes while guiding them through the early days of digital socializing. Released in 1997, the platform quickly gained popularity, since everyone was capable of talking to their friends and family members in real-time. During its peak, AOL was valued at $224 billion in today’s money.
However, when text messaging was made available to the public, the platform saw a decline in its users. When messengers from Yahoo and Microsoft MSN were released, it battled to stay on top. Once Gmail released the platform that included live chats, AOL started fading away. The reason for their failure was because AOL never fully figured out the shift to mobile and how people were becoming more addicted to their phones.
In 2015, the company was sold to Verizon for just $4.4 billion. The same year, WhatsApp was sold to Facebook for more than $19 billion. Since 2015, the number of users steadily declined, forcing the company to officially pull the plug in 2017. (source)
8. Answering machines played a significant role in every day life during the 80’s and 90’s. The first commercially available answering machine was capable of screening calls, and holding up to 20 messages on a reel-to-reel tape.
In 1971, PhoneMate introduced one of the first commercially viable answering machines. The Model 400 weighed 10 pounds, was capable of screening calls and holding up to 20 messages on a reel-to-reel tape. This was a significant achievement during the time since mobile phones were not invented yet and missing calls on land lines was quite heartbreaking; especially when it was from your crush. The model also allowed users to plug in headphones to retrieve private messages.
PhoneMate made their product available to the public in the cheapest way possible, which led to its popularity in the United States. By early 1980’s, the prices of answering machines went as low as $125 per unit. The market was flooded with demands after the new price was revealed and answering machines became a common household commodity. It is estimated that as many as 400,000 units were sold during early 80’s. However, with the emergence of cell phones and their built-in voicemail feature, the use of answering machines started declining gradually. By early 90’s, they became obsolete. (source)
9. Teal iMacs, released in 1998, was soon followed by a candy-colored explosion of choices for its beloved users.
When Apple first unveiled the iMac in May 1998, it had two characteristics that quickly made it the best-selling personal computer in America. It required minimal effort to set up and even contained a handle on the top that allowed its users to move the unit around with ease. It also had less cords flailing around, making it attractive to users who didn’t know much about computers. According to Apple, one-third of iMac sales in the machine’s first year went to first-time computer buyers.
Second of all, the iMac was pretty. It came in teal at first but with rise in demand, a second generation was released with five bright colors that a New York Times reporter wrote “more closely resemble a pack of Life Savers than a new computer line”. When the second generation was released, the company’s quarterly earnings were three times what they had been the year before. The Bondi Blue wonder revolutionized and redefined the desktop PC market. (source)
10. Nintendo 64, released in the U.S. on September 26, 1996, revolutionized the world of gaming with 3D worlds and 64-bit graphics. This console is responsible for turning the video gaming industry into the immersive medium it is today.
When Nintendo was working on the Nintendo 64, they initially had a different name chosen, Ultra 64. The company had plans to release the console with the name Ultra in it but just before the release, they learned that Konami had the word “Ultra” trademarked for its Ultra Games division. When Nintendo 64 was first released, the games were extremely pricey. Although games today cost about an average of $60, back then, each game cost about $75.
The console itself sold for around $200 per unit but that didn’t stop people from buying the revolutionary product. It is estimated that around 33 million units were sold worldwide during its release. The N64 was the last major console to utilize cartridges. Despite this, Super Mario 64 is the bestselling game on the Nintendo 64. It is estimated that around 11.89 million copies were sold in its lifetime. The console was discontinued in mid-2002 following the launch of its successor, the GameCube. (source)