Walking from the office to the train station, I happened to notice an old portable stereo. One from the 80s but with a twist. It had a small, 3 or 4 inch, TV in it. Now you may go, so what? I’ll tell you why.
The 80s saw the rise of home electronics. It started 10 to 15 years previously with the fruits of the space race – the transistor & its use in the first, small, consumer portable radios. Small enough to carry around with you with the ability to run of batteries.
This revolution spawned the “Phillips Compact Cassette”. This meant that you can carry your record collection around with you – a major leap forward. Not only that, you could also copy your friends albums and listen to them anywhere you wish.
Then in the late 70s, Sony invented the Walkman. A cassette player that ran on two AAA batteries [there was an option to have a high capacity battery pack – two D cells in a case!]. This allowed you to listen to your own music by using the supplied headphones! The design was simple, elegant, the iPod of the day. I still have one that I won in a competition over 30 years ago. It produces a glow of nostalgia remembering what you were doing and what you were listening to at the time.
Getting back to what I had started talking about. One of the defining pieces of portable music technology in the decade was the ghetto blaster. A huge, battery powered, stereo. We saw it, mainly, with older teenagers around it body popping. You saw it in films, US TV series. Everywhere you saw someone walking down a major cities streets.
Jumping forwards almost a quarter of a century to today. We have our iPods, iPhones and we are listening to our own music as a non-group environment as we did in the past. I’m doing that as I type this piece.
We haven’t seen the rise of the iBlaster. A classic 80 ghetto blaster sized unit that you can clip your iPod, or other music device, to and relive the decade that your parents grew up in. Before you say anything. Yes I know you can get docks that can do that but you have to plug them into the mains 😛
Another thing that decade left us is a curious mix of fashion. From the new romantics at the start of the decade to acid house at the end. No other decade saw such a change in fashion. Some of it gets sneared at today but that’s the joy of hindsight.