The 80s decades was such a unique and crazy time to be a kid. There were some pretty funny things from the 80s, that people today would find very strange. At the time though we thought that decade was the best ever. We thought we had everything we needed.
Truly the funny part about the 80s was that many items didn’t survive past that era. I am not sure if that means that they weren’t actual cool, or if everyone had was just over them. For all of you 80s kids out there, this post is a trip down memory lane for you. For those who didn’t grow up then, you may find yourself reading this post and thinking “man what was up with the 80s”! LOL!
1) Calculator Watch
Casio was one of the biggest watch brands of the 80s. Their popularity in the 80s was in part from the success of their digital Calculator Watch. Yes, you heard me right! A watch that had a built-in calculator on the face of the watch. It had tiny little buttons on it, and a screen that would digitally display whatever buttons you were hitting. Working exactly like an actual calculator.
You maybe, wondering what the heck would someone need a calculator watch for! Well, the answer is that in the 80s, there was obviously no smart phones. Back in those days the only way to do your math homework was with a rather large portable calculator. Due to the size, it obviously wasn’t very discreet.
Once Casio released their Calculator Watch, every kid wanted one. We wanted all the help we could get to do our math homework. That was until the teachers eventually caught on that we were wearing the watch in class. It didn’t take long for them to quickly enforce a no Calculator Watch in class rule. That sucked, but that didn’t stop us from using them at home when we were too lazy to do long division on our own. HAHA! The average cost of a Calculator Watch was $50 CDN.
2) Spirograph set
One of the oddest and extremely popular items of the 80s that still has me baffled, was the Spirograph Set. Basically, it was a set of plastic circular geometric drawing toys that you could trace and make unique, fun drawings with. You could insert your pen into predetermine holes on the shape using different colored pens for a super cool and unique design. You could also just simply trace the object to make a variety of cool shapes that you absolutely couldn’t draw on your own.
The set came with around 20 different pieces that were various sizes of circles and shapes. In the set there was rings, circles, and longer oval shapes. The unique thing about the shapes, was that the edge was gear shaped. Meaning that the outside edge wasn’t smooth. This of course made for some pretty cool drawings. and shapes were different sizes, some shapes actually fit inside each other which allowed you to make even more unique shapes. The average cost of a Spirograph Set was usually under $20 CDN.
3) Socks with a pom pom
When it came to fashion in the 80s, we all know that some pretty crazy items came from that era. One of these items was the low rise or short socks, that had a pom pom on the back of the sock. A Pom Pom Sock you say!! Yes, that was thing in the 80s!!
The real idea behind the sock, was that the pom pom on the back would stop your sock from sliding down into your shoe. With the short socks, there was always that risk. The pom pom did work, and it did keep your socks in the right place, but still such a weird concept. I always found the pom pom such a pain and a tad uncomfortable. They were an immensely popular item though in the 80s whether I liked them or not. HAHA!
4) Jelly shoes
Sticking in the fashion era of the 80s, leads me to the very odd Jelly Shoes. I know you are probably thinking “Jelly Shoes” what the heck are they? Well, they were a type of slip-on shoe that was made out of a weird product that looked and felt like jelly. It was a transparent PVC plastic product that made them look even more jelly like.
Made in an area of designs, and colors, often even being infused with glitter to make them sparkly. They were a very inexpensive shoe often under $10 CDN. Many people found them to be extremely comfortable and with their 1982 roll out became super popular.
5) 5-year diary with lock
Awe the 5-year DIARY! Writing in a diary was never more popular than in the 70s and 80s. Every little girl or boy that wanted a diary, wanted the 5-year one with the brass fold over lock that had a key.
In those days there was nothing called journaling like today. NOPE. We called it writing in your diary. The idea of a diary was at the end of every day, you would write how your day went, and then later on go back to reread it.
The lock and key portion of the diary was obviously to keep prying little brother eyes out! HAHA. Literally the toughest part of the secrecy was to remember where you hid the key. LOL!
6) Water games
Before there was handheld game systems, smartphones, computers, or iPad, when we travelled in the 80s, there really wasn’t much to do. One of the 80s games that we could take to travel with us was something called Water Games. I know it sounds weird because it has water in it, but they were pretty fun to play.
A Water Game was a sealed plastic container that had a game inside the water. The game was usually a type of ring or ball game that you needed to complete by pushing the button which would push air and move the object inside. Putting the rings or ball in the proper place was the entire concept of the game.
Looking at the game you initially think it will be pretty easy to do, but the reality was that they were always pretty challenging.
7) Rubik’s Cube
Sticking with the game theme, no 80s post would be complete without talking about the famous Rubik’s Cube. This square plastic cube was one of the most fascinating things to come out of this era. The mastery of the cube was that it was a puzzle that had billions of different combinations but had only 1 way that it could be solved. This was a 3-dimentional geometrical puzzle meant to explain how geometry worked.
Designed so that all the individual pieces moved separately. Each side of the cube when solved was one complete color. There were 6 colors in all and 26 moving squares. With each square being one of those colors when you would spin the cube pieces to make it random the colors were mixed up. You then had the task of putting it back so that each side was once again 1 solid color. Let me just say, this is EXTREMELY hard to do and I never did solve it.
To date the Rubik’s Cube has sold over 350 million over a 40-year history. Running cost wise under $20, this puzzle is still a completely relevant and fun puzzle to challenge yourself with.
A Hasbro game called Simon, was introduced to the market in 1976, and by the 80s decade was extremely popular. This unique and memory-based electronics game had you using what you saw the game do first was then a challenge for you to recreate the color and patterns it had created. What we called “Simon says”.
Simon was round and had 4 different color pads that would light up. It had red, yellow, blue, and green colors. When you first start the game the computer sequence or patterns were quite easy and would get more difficult the longer that you were successful.
Funny enough, I was never that good at the game, but I still loved playing it. This was our version of a techy game in the 80s. HAHA! A testament to the unique and fascinating game it was, it is still available to purchase today for under $30.
9) Mixed tape
I can’t do a list of funny things from the 80s without including the epic Mixed Tape. Everyone that grew up in this era has or is familiar with the mixed tape. A mixed tape is described as a compilation of music recorded using multiple sources.
Think back to a time before CD’s or digital music when cassette tapes were the portable way that we listened to music. Yes, records were still around, but as we know records are not portable at all, so the cassette tape was the BOMB!
Back then we would listen to the radio and use our cassette player’s PLAY and RECORD button that needed to be pushed at the same time to record something. That was how you could tape a song that you liked off the radio. Of course, with this method, the start and finish of the song could be cut off or end up with the DJ’s voice on the tape. Overall, not a smooth taping to say the least. Filling up the tape with your favourite songs was how the mixed tape phenomenon became so popular.
Once one side of the tape was full, you could flip it over and tape even more songs. The original cassette was 60 min tape with 30 per side, up until the 90-minute tape came out with 45 minutes per side. Some of the most popular blank cassette tapes were made by BASF, Sony, Memorex, Maxell, and TDK. Even though you knew the length of the cassette, filing the tape to its capacity was always difficult as each song is a different length.
By all means the mixed tape was not a perfect smooth way to tape your favourite songs, but it was still one of the most popular and fun things to come out of the 80s.
10) Ghetto blaster
We talked about the mixed tape, but we can’t go on without mentioning the Ghetto Blaster. This radio and cassette player had built in speakers for an all-in-one stereo. Some were even equipped with 2 cassette players to allow taping from one cassette to another. Total groundbreaking technology.
This was one of the best things musically to come from the 80s. With a handle for taking with you on the go, this usually quite large portable stereo almost as big as a suitcase was either powered by a power cord or by batteries. Now the battery option while great, did usually take the largest size C or D batteries which or course could get pretty expensive. Running the Ghetto as we called it this way usually went through the batteries pretty quickly.
Almost all the Ghetto’s had plenty of built-in options like an equalizer and built-in lights that would flash with the beat of the song.
The Ghetto blaster completely changed our access to music for sharing and for personal use. They ranged in price from the cheaper versions around $60 up to a few hundreds, depending on the quality of the player you were looking for. Even back then, quality electronics came at a price.
11) Sony Walkman
Portable music was already on the move with the introduction of the Ghetto Blaster, but for an even more portable way of listening to music, the Sony Walkman changed it all. Released in 1979 this was huge coming into the 80s.
This portable cassette player was compact and capable of being clipped onto your pants or slung on a strap over your shoulder. “Music on the go”. The Sony Walkman was a play back only stereo cassette player that allowed you to listen to your cassette tapes through plugged in headphones while walking. You could go anywhere you wanted with it.
It was powered by batteries and would sometimes include an AM/FM option. Selling over 200 million Walkman’s, Sony truly hit the mark with this portable music option. Ranging in price from approximately $150-$200 CDN.
Many of these items are still around today, while others have all but vanished. No matter what, they were a few of the funny things from the 80s.