The 1980s – a turning point

The world has changed a lot since I was a teenager. We did not have social media. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram did not exist. How could they? There was no platform for them. Not everyone had a computer in their home.

AND if anyone had a computer, they were not user-friendly! You did not simply push the on button and then click on an icon for whatever you wanted to use. You actually had to type the correct commands (or codes) to make it work. The commands themselves made no sense to me.

1980s technology -

The Walkman hit retail stores in approximately 1980. It allowed you to take your favourite music tapes on the go with you. On the trains, jogging, outings – your music could go with you everywhere. Then came the Discman (I think) so that you could do exactly the same thing with CDs. Except, if you moved suddenly, the disc would jump – but it was all good.

1980s technology -

The CD marked a transition from analogue technology to digital sound. The very first CD ever made was in mid-1982. This new technology went on to revolutionise the music entertainment industry.

We did not have mobile phones. We did not have answering machines either. For those that may be too young to understand that term ‘answering machine’, it is the equivalent to voicemail except it was attached to your land-line (the phone at home attached by a cord to a telephone outlet in the wall) so you could access audio messages once you returned home. Prior to that, the population lived in ignorant bliss that anyone had in fact tried to contact them. The answering machine slowly and quite subtly started to change our lifestyle.

1980s technology -

By Norbert Schnitzler – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Answering machines became popular around about the mid-1980s. It was quite exciting to be able to say to someone, “you can leave a message on my answer machine.” It showed that you were ‘modern’ and also that you could afford the new technology. It was quite a breakthrough. Then, the first thing that would happen every time you returned home from somewhere – anywhere – you would check if there were any messages. If there was a message, a little red light would be flashing. It would be so exciting! Of course, if there was no message, you might feel a little disappointed. You then started to realise that perhaps some people might be lying to you when they said that they called, especially when they said there had been no answer.

“At 10.42am on February 23, 1987, the then Minister for Communications, Michael Duffy, made the first official call using an analogue mobile phone.”

I bought my first mobile phone in 1990. It was a Nokia. When I received my first bill, hooley dooley! I almost died! It was somewhere in the vicinity of $1,000. That is a lot of money! Especially back then (and still today). It was quite a buzz to be able to say, “You can also have my mobile number”. I was young – what can I say. I was recently married, and my husband was into technology. Mobile phones back then, could not be used whilst charging the battery. In actual fact, you needed 2 batteries so that while one was charging (generally overnight) you could still use the phone. My first husband was an ‘early adaptor’ for all the wrong reasons. Yes, he liked technology, but what he liked more than anything else was to have more things than what his brother had (who was 10 years his senior) and also better things then what his brother had. The competition between the two of them was so stupid and so immature. But I digress.

Colour television arrived in Australia in 1975, by the time the 1980s arrived, it became all about excess. Don’t forget that we also had the VHS recorders then. We could program our favourite shows to record while we were out socialising.

Television stations were starting to transmit for longer during the days, and in some cases, 24 hours a day. You could work all day, party hard at night and then crash in front of the television before passing out from exhaustion. You could watch the 1 or possibly the 2 shows you recorded on your VHS player. Although quite often you would miss the beginning or the ending of a show because you had to manually set the timer on the recorder.

I had some good times and so very bad times during the decade. To me, in hindsight, the 1980’s is an era responsible for so much. There is nothing wrong with the music though, contrary to what some people say. But the decade sprouted so much technology. We all embraced that technology and craved for more. “How did we ever live without it?” The extreme growth of this technology since that time seems to now, possibly, be damaging or even destroying our humanity, our humility, our self-worth – except the music, there is nothing wrong with the music) and our ability to communicate and socialise – in real life not hiding behind anonymity. The 1980s was definitely a turning point for society.