In the old days, we tolerated diet sodas but we never really enjoyed them. In the 1980s, improved artificial sweeteners like Nutrasweet replaced the bitter taste of Tab with the pleasant taste of Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi.
You could enjoy your favorite juice drinks on the go, thanks to juice boxes and foil pouches that were punctured with a plastic straw.
For yuppies, wine coolers and bottled mineral water were the hot new trends.
During this decade, many food companies introduced meals and snacks especially for microwave ovens. They included popcorn, cake mixes, french fries and frozen meals packaged with microwave-safe plates.
In 1985, Coca-Cola changed the formula of their soft drink and dubbed it New Coke. This highly unpopular move angered the public, which prompted the company to bring back their original formula and call it Coca-Cola Classic. Publicity stunt or genuine marketing blunder? The jury is still out...
The soda industry underwent some changes in the 1980s. They included the use of aspartame as an artificial sweetener, the introduction of caffeine-free sodas, and the switch from natural sugar to high fructose corn syrup.
The first toothpaste pump dispenser was introduced in 1984.
In the old days, dyeing your hair was something you did in secret. By the 1980s, the practice was not only acceptable, it was celebrated. During this decade, approximately 75 percent of American women colored their hair.
After falling out of fashion for ten years, styling products made a comeback in the 1980s. Mousse, hair gel and hairspray were used to create the big curls and sculpted looks that were popular during this time.
In 1980, Softsoap was the first modern liquid soap in a pump dispenser.
Our hair suffered a great deal of abuse in the 1980s. To combat this, new shampoos were introduced especially for blow-dried and permed hair. In 1987, Pert Plus was the first 2-in-1 product to combine a shampoo with a conditioner.
standard phone service In the early 1980s, phone service in the United States was a virtual monopoly. AT&T owned 22 regional affiliates and controlled nearly 90 percent of the local and long distance lines. They also manufactured and leased the equipment. This arrangement was known as the Bell System.
Independent companies such as GTE, United Telecom, ConTel and Centel provided phone service to the remaining 10 percent of the country.
In 1982, the government ordered the breakup of the AT&T monopoly. The regional affiliates were removed from AT&T ownership and consolidated into seven separate companies. AT&T was permitted to keep their long distance and manufacturing divisions.
long distance During the Bell System era, each regional affiliate was required to use AT&T's long distance service. Most independent companies also used AT&T. After the breakup, customers were free to sign up with the provider of their choice. AT&T became just another long distance option alongside new companies like Sprint and MCI.
phone leasing In the old days, Bell System subscribers leased their phones from the phone company. Customers won the legal right to purchase and use their own equipment in 1975. To prevent subscribers from straying to other manufacturers, Bell introduced the Design Line series of novelty phones in 1974. Customers owned the outer casing, while Bell retained ownership of all working parts.
The telephone leasing program was transferred to AT&T following the breakup. Each subscriber was given a choice: do nothing and continue to lease directly from AT&T, or end their lease agreement and buy a new phone. Customers did the math and quickly turned in their old phones. Buying a phone became as simple and commonplace as buying a radio.
There were many phone models available in the 1980s. They included answering phones, trimline phones and the first cordless phones. You could also choose a cute novelty phone shaped like a toy or cartoon character.
mobile phones The first mobile phone service was launched in 1946. Prior to the 1980s, mobile technology used base stations, antennas and radio signals to connect portable phones to the landline phone network. Most mobile phones were installed in cars due to the large battery requirement.
Although improvements were made in the 1960s, mobile service was expensive and channel availability was woefully inadequate. Subscriber waiting lists stretched on for years. By the late 1970s, the technology had gone about as far as it could go.
cell phones In the 1980s, cellular technology solved many of the problems facing the mobile industry. In a cellular network, large coverage areas are divided into cells arranged in a mosaic pattern. Within each cell, a special tower seamlessly transfers calls to neighboring cells if the caller moves out of range. These innovations eliminated congestion and allowed for expanded service areas.
The cellular concept was developed by Motorola and Bell Labs in the 1970s. After a period of testing, the first cellular network in America went live in 1983. By the mid 1980s, most mobile phone networks were using cellular transmission.
New cell phone providers in the 1980s included Cellular One, GTE Mobilnet, Centel Cellular, Fleetcall, Telespectrum, Bell Atlantic Mobile, NYNEX Wireless, BellSouth Mobility, Ameritech Mobile and ConTel Cellular.
In the 1980s, cell phones fell into four categories:
Fixed car phones were permanently installed under the dashboard and drew power from the vehicle's battery.
Car-to-car phones could be moved from one vehicle to another. They drew power from the car battery, usually by plugging into the car's cigarette lighter. Many models came with a carrying case, which was strapped to the back of the front seat during use.
Transportable or transmobile phones came with rechargeable battery packs for non-vehicle use. Some transportable phones were boxy units carried by a handle or shoulder strap, while others came in a suitcase or soft zipper case. Most of these phones could also be plugged into the car's cigarette lighter for vehicle use.
Handheld phones were self-contained units that could be comfortably held in one hand. The earliest models resembled army field radios and were very expensive. By the late 1980s, a handful of smaller phones were also available. During this decade, the most popular handheld model was the DynaTAC, which was affectionately known as the brick. In 1989, Motorola introduced the first flip-phone, the MicroTAC.
During this decade, cell phones were manufactured by Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Okidata, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, Radio Shack, Uniden and NovAtel.
The DynaTAC cost $3,500 and provided 30 minutes of talk time when fully charged
cassette & radio The Sony Walkman was introduced in 1979. This revolutionary product combined a cassette player and AM/FM radio in a unit the size of a paperback book. The package may have been small, but the sound was definitely big. Plugging in the headphones gave you a personal audio system to rival any stereo tape deck.
In the 1980s, the transistor radios and cassette players of the past evolved into powerful boom-boxes and ghetto-blasters.
compact disc The first CD players went on the market in 1982. Compact disc technology was vastly different from records and tapes. Consequently, it was hard to predict how the public would respond to this completely new audio format. While the price was prohibitive at first, the format's many advantages gradually won us over. CD players became affordable for most people around 1985, but wouldn't be widely used until the early 1990s.
Sony introduced the Discman in 1984. This portable CD player was similar to their highly successful Walkman. The first car CD players also appeared in 1984.
videocassette When VCRs were introduced in the mid 1970s, they came in two very different formats: VHS and Betamax. For a while, both machines coexisted side by side. In the early 1980s, VHS became the more popular of the two. Soon, Beta machines were cluttering the shelves of garage sales and resale shops, while VHS machines became the operating standard for the next 20 years.
In 1984, the government ruled that taping programs on your VCR for home viewing wasn't violating any copyright laws. VCR prices fell and sales doubled.
videodisc There were two videodisc formats available in the 1980s. Pioneer and MCA introduced the laserdisc in 1978, and RCA introduced the Selectavision CED videodisc in 1981. Each disc was 12 inches wide and contained up to an hour of material per side. Laserdiscs were scanned by laser, while RCA's discs were made of grooved vinyl and used a stylus.
Videodiscs were easy to use and contained many extra features. Because you couldn't record on them, they soon took a back seat to the new popularity of VCRs. Laserdiscs managed to stay in the game for several more years, but RCA's system was discontinued in 1986.
camcorders When the first VCRs came out in 1975, a new line of portable video cameras was introduced to go along with them. At first, these cameras could only be used with a portable VCR slung over the shoulder. This made them very bulky and cumbersome.
In 1982, all functions were combined into a single unit known as the camcorder. This device could film directly onto a videocassette without the need for a VCR. In the late 1980s, camcorders were still somewhat big and bulky and were quite expensive.
television The wireless remote-control was introduced in the mid 1950s. In 1979, it became standard equipment for most TVs. What was once a luxury item was now a necessity for channel-surfing.
desktop computers The first personal computers were sold as hobby kits. In 1977, the modern PC industry was born when the first fully-assembled models went on the market. By the early 1980s, there were many sizes, styles and features to choose from.
As the decade progressed, the industry gradually sorted itself out. When the dust settled, MacIntosh and IBM emerged as the favorites. For everyone else, this meant that the key to being competitive in the PC market was to be IBM compatible. From that point on, all personal computers were split into two categories: those that were Macs and those that weren't. All non-Mac computers were lumped together under the heading of PC.
portable computers Portable computers could be easily moved from place to place. In the 1980s, there were two types of portable computers: luggables and laptops.
luggables Luggable computers were housed in sturdy carrying cases. A typical unit generally weighed between 15 and 30 pounds. The computer and monitor were located in the bottom portion of the case, while the keyboard was located in the cover.
laptops Laptop computers were smaller than luggables. The term was misleading, because several early models were actually too large to fit anywhere but on a desk. In the 1980s, laptops fell into two categories: flat laptops and clamshell laptops.
Flat laptops resembled oversized adding machines. They contained keyboards, tiny monochrome screens and miniature printers.
Clamshell laptops featured display screens embedded in hinged covers. If the entire unit opened up like a book, it was referred to as a notebook computer. By the late 1980s, most laptops were of the notebook variety.
pocket computers & organizers The smallest computers could fit in a briefcase and be held with one hand. The most elaborate models ran basic software and were fully programmable. Simpler models had limited functionality and were known as organizers.
display Some desktop computers had built-in display screens, while others were connected to an external monitor or television set. Monochrome screens had white, green or orange text on a black background. In 1980, the most advanced color systems could display up to 16 colors. By 1989, a typical color system could display 4,096 colors.
printers In the 1980s, most documents were printed on slow, noisy dot-matrix printers. Quiet operation and high quality graphics came along in 1984 when the first desktop laser printers and inkjet printers were introduced.
Data and programs were originally stored on cassette tapes, cartridges and large floppy disks. In 1981, Sony introduced a 3.5-inch floppy disk made of hard plastic. These smaller disks came into wider usage in 1985 and soon rendered the older storage devices obsolete.
The CD-ROM made its debut in 1985. These optical discs had a higher storage capacity than floppies, but could not be written or erased. They were used to distribute commercial software and video games. Writable and erasable CDs would not come along until the 1990s.
graphical user interface
Before the invention of the graphical user interface, all computer functions were performed by entering complicated codes and commands on the keyboard. With a GUI, they could be performed by choosing selections from a menu or by clicking on icons with a mouse.
The GUI revolution began in 1984 when Apple released the hugely successful MacIntosh. The Mac's clickable icons and convenient all-in-one design made it the first user-friendly computer. Following the success of the Mac, special software programs known as operating environments were introduced to give other PCs the same point-and-click technology as the Mac.
software & programs
operating systems Every PC uses an operating system to coordinate applications and functions.