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Old 12-21-2013, 07:37 PM
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How different was television, clothing, music, television, technology, and overall feel of the two decades? If you are old enough to remember both decades, how different were say 1985 to 1995 or 1983 to 1993? From what I've seen, the 80s completely died in about 1993 or 1994 and seemed very far away by that time period but this is coming from someone who came of age in the 2000s and not the 1990s so any help would be appreciated. Also, people always seem to group these two decades together.

Old 12-22-2013, 01:11 AM
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Lots of differences between the decades but things like technology, clothing, music, and even television don’t change rapidly between decades.

Anyway technology for the 80ies:

The VCR is catching on slowly and takes most of the decade to become an item found in almost every home. Before the VCR there is no way to see a TV show at any time other than when it was broadcasted. Cable TV is also catching on.

Black and White televisions stop being sold. They were cheaper than color and were never made obsolete like the switch to digital. They just slowly got squeezed out as color sets got cheaper and cheaper.(i.e. They were a small second TV.) Also while common people had fewer televisions then(i.e. a house might only have 2, total and a family of 3-4!). They were also a bit smaller. In terms of cost the cost of an Television is a bit higher than today or the 90ies(if you adjust for inflation) so people tended to buy the smaller one. Remote controls were not a standard feature on all televisions probably either till the end of the 80ies or the very early 90ies.

The microwave is also catching on and there is a fad of microwave cooking.

Compact disks for music are expensive and most people still buy music on vinyl or cassette tape, the 8 track player of the 70ies is dying. The Walkman gives people the ability to walk around with prerecorded music for the first time (a huge boast to portability).

The typewriter is still a viable means to produce printed pages esp. at the start of the decade as computers are expensive and/or hard to use. There are home computers made by many companies(Atari, Commodore, Appleect.). Most printers are dot matrix as laser and ink jet technology are too expensive for most people to have. Computer use is increasing. By the end of the decade only the PC and the Mac will be left standing in the computer world.Most PCs run a version of DOS, esp. Microsoft DOS.

The camcorder is new as people can for the first time easily and cheaply record video (film cameras were rather rare beforehand.)

Calculators and digital watches become cheap (they were invented in the 70ies). Cell phones are invented but are large, expensive and most people don’t have them. Car phones exist along side cell phones (they are located in the car only). Pagers are catching on as a means to notify a person that they need to make a call.

Cars go from mostly rear wheel drive body on frame to mostly front wheel drive unibody construction. The Ford Taurus changes the shape of cars from more boxy to the round oval shapes that will dominate the 90ies. 80ies cars also are not as reliable as todays but even worse the increased computerization makes repairing them harder for a common person to do (i.e. you need a mechanic to fix these things). Older cars were more forgiving of less trained hands.

For the 90ies:

The DVD is invented and catches on faster than the VCR. TheVCR however isn’t obsolete because DVD’s can’t record and really won’t be obsolete till the early 2000is. The DVD greatly expands the amount of prerecorded material available for purchase or rental.

The PC is made easy to use by Windows. The mac was made easy to use in the 80ies by Apple.

The typewriter is obsolete and the computer is a lot easier to use but also there are changes in the work force as people who used to not type now type as part of their work. I.e. Companies need fewer secretaries and hire more skilled workers instead(i.e. need fewer typist and file clerks and more lawyers,accountants, ect.) They shove the job of producing letters, memos and other documents on to other workers. The lawyer who before didn't use the typewritter now used the computer.

Computers are now very common and much easier to use. Inkjet printers dominate the home and small office while laser mostly dominates the office. The noise of the dot matrix printer is a thing of the past outside of a few specialized applications for it. The PC drops below $1000 at the end of the decade. While laptops exist most people use desktops because of cost and thefact that as desktop is more powerful than a laptop. Only the people who needed an computer to be portable used laptops. Where as today people would prefer a laptop over an desktop to simply carry around the house.

The compact disc is the dominate way music is played and the MP3 is coming on at the end of the decade. The MP3 hits the music industry hard as before making illegal copies of music was more limited. Yeah you can record something with a tape player but the if you make a copy of a copy the quality will degrade in the second copy. Digital formats don’t suffer this problem(they copy exactly). Vinyl and the Cassete tape wither.

Digital Cameras come out making it fast to get as many copies as you want of a picture without needing to go to a store. Before the only thing you had was an instant camera and that only produced one image.

The internet comes on late/mid decade bringing much greater and faster means of communication(the web and email).

Cell phones become common items that can fit in a pocket as the pager and car phone die out. Cell phones are limited to calling only: notexting, camereas, or even phone book in early ones. The PDA(which was invented in the 80ies)handles phone book and calendars as a separate device.

Bread machines and a new type of ice cream maker(the kind that doesn’t need ice)catch on. Not that everyone has them but they are something people might reasonably have. Not sure when it happend but frozen meals change from being on metal tray(80ies) to plastic covered metal trays that can go in the microwave and the varitity of frozen meals increases. Microwavable soup in a can comes out this decade.

Last edited by chirack; 12-22-2013 at 01:44 AM..
Old 12-22-2013, 03:32 AM
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True, technology made big changes from the mid80s to the late 90s but on the social side little changed. Just go back to the 60s and 70s to see abig change in the social mores.
Old 12-22-2013, 03:51 PM
Location: MD's Eastern Shore
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OLD enough to remember? Thanks! Dang, Making me feel old, kind of like seeing late 80's 5.0 mustangs with HISTORIC plates. Jeez!

Now one thing I have noticed about those decades is that I really didn't notice a difference until sometime in the mid 2000's. I guess the 80's just gradually blended into the 90's but looking back there was deffinatily a difference. Probably the same on any decade.

I guess in the 80's kids still played outside and by the end of the 90's they had pretty much turned to indoor video games. But look at the difference between "pong" and the games available 20 years later.

I graduated highschool in 86 and took a typing class my senior year. They offered a computer class but that was more for the "nerds" who looked ahead and saw where that was going. They were still basically a novelty for those who were going to be interested in high tech jobs in the distant future. Oh well!

Heavy metal and "hair bands' were popular in the 80's but that changed to more of a "grunge" in the 90's. But the same group of people listened to it, it was just a natural change, Country music started getting more popular in the 90's and IMO is when it started to go downhill and turned more "pop".
From what I recall, rap/hip hop got going in the 80's and was more clean, fun and dance oriented but by the 90's seemed to have morphed into some hardcore, gangster, thug glorifying crap.

The 80's were known for the big hair, on both girls and guys. Really cheesy outfits that I can't describe. But at least they were better then the clothes worn in the 70's. I think the 90's turned more into a normalcy not much different then today as far as fashion. Some might disagree but I'm going with my experiences. I think I could put myself back in time to 1995 with my current clothes and fit right in but going back to 85 I'd stand out.

In the 80's you were out of contact once you left your house or work. If you needed to make a call you needed to go to a pay phone, which were everywhere. In the 90's pagers started to get somewhat popular and pay phones were still everywhere. Car phones started to become available for those with the coin to spare. By the early 2000's pretty much everyone had cell phones and pay phones were harder to find.

My perspective of the internet in those decades. I never even heard of it until 1995. I'm bringing that up because I always see people on these boards saying it was available in the 80's/early 90's and people where communicating on BBS's. I grew up outside the capital beltway in MD so it isn't like I was from the middle of nowhere! Perhaps it was available for a few technology buffs who had the money to play with it but it sure wasn't available for the regular masses in those years, at least in my area. And the internet through the late 90's was run through your house phone lines. Remember those? It was S L O W ! I personally did not get my first PC/internet until 1998. I don't think I got a cell phone until 2002.
Old 12-22-2013, 07:32 PM
Location: Arizona
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I remember some '80's fads that came and went - "Members Only" jackets, shoulder pads, leg warmers, parachute pants, break dancing, the "Miami Vice" look, etc. etc.
Old 12-22-2013, 08:14 PM
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80ies fashion:

Tight fitting jeans as well as stone washed/acid washed and jeans that are not blue (black jeans). Early 80ies fashion looks more like 70ies fashion, late 80ies into early 90ies bright even neon colors, Gym shoes become fashion items(Nike Air). Really short shorts are in fashion till about the very late 80ies. Office wear is more formal and people don’t wear khaki and a nice shirt to work in an office(suits required). Clothing often more formal for some occasions. Late 80ies/early 90ies baggy pants popular.

Mid 90ies fashion:

More conservative fewer bright clashy colors or neon. Casual office wear(khakis ect…). Lumber jack shirts popular with the rise of grunge. Long shorts popular as well as relaxed fit jeans. I would agree that until recently you could step back to the 90ies without looking too out of place but the current trend of skinny jeans reminds as well as some of the bright colors popular now me of the 80ies!
Old 12-22-2013, 10:13 PM
Location: Duluth, Minnesota, USA
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1980s - For offices, nerds, rich people, and schools. Almost always operated in command-line mode, except if you had a Mac or fancy Unix workstation. The cheaper ones actually used a TV for display. Few jobs require competency in computers. Typewriters still in use. Desktop computers (except hobby computers) are really expensive throughout the decade, laptops and even portable computers (essentially calculators with a full ASCII keyboard and two-line dot-matrix monochrome LCD display) emerge.
1990s - This is the decade when the home PC was popularized. In 1990 Microsoft releases Windows 3.0 and in 1995 Windows 95, which made major headlines and were based on slick-for-the-times GUI. In the mid-late 90's, the Internet explodes onto the scene. By 1999, Best Buy was selling eMachine computers for FREE with a dial-up internet contract. In the mid-late 90s Apple is in the dumps, Microsoft is king, this new idea called "open source" emerges, and tech stocks shoot up. The Internet is seen by many as a major money maker, thanks to success stories like Amazon and Netscape. A new computer is still seen as a major purchase; the cheapest desktops reach the $1,000 mark in about 1994 ($1,572 in 2013) and the $500 mark in about 1999. Laptops are still very expensive in 1999, costing around $5,000 in today's money for a decent one. Flat screens for desktops are extremely rare throughout the decade, even in 1999, and very expensive; bulky CRT monitors rule.

1980s: By air or by cable, or if you were wealthy, by a huge satellite dish (generally 10 to 12 feet in diameter). Air was the standard networks, as well in big cities, some "independent stations". For a brief period in the late 70's and early 80's, before some big cities were wired for cable, you could subscribe to stations that went out on the air but were encrypted with a descrambler box. As for cable, the choices were vastly different in 1980 and 1989: in 1980, packages consisted of whatever the cable headend could pick up on their big antenna, some superstations brought in by microwave relays, a premium movie network or two (HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime all pre-date 1980!), and maybe an early basic cable network like WTBS (they later dropped the "W") or the Christian PTL.

In 1989, on the other hand, cable penetration grew by a large amount, and systems of 30 channels were not uncommon. ESPN, MTV, Nickelodeon, Lifetime, etc., they all existed and were household names by then. Youth watched more TV back then, and adults probably did too. TVs were expensive then and considered a major household purchase, although families often had one or two spare TVs for the bedrooms, kitchen, etc. then.

Satellite dishes received unscrambled signals from the same source as head-ends, so with a clear view of the southern horizon, an actuator (to move the dish from satellite to satellite), and a decent-sized dish, you could see pretty much all that there was to see for North America - brand-new cable channels, movie networks, Canadian channels, the same network feeds that the affiliates received, etc. In 1986, HBO scrambled, and much of the rest of cable TV followed in their lead, more or less killing off the home dish industry.

1990s: The number of cable networks grew dramatically. E!, History Channel, The Travel Channel, Animal Planet, TV Land, Food Network, MTV2, etc., etc. were children of the 90s. You could tell what's on a channel simply by its name back then: history shows on HIST, travel documentaries on TRAV, animals on AP, cooking shows on FOOD. The network decay you see today began largely in the 2000s, and live / reality TV played a part.

The technology in TVs was mostly stagnant during this decade, although often by government mandate TVs began to offer ancillary services such as closed captioning and SAP. Tipper Gore crusaded for inclusion of parental lock feature in TVs, which was responsive to a violence/language/sexual content filter that could be set by parents, but as far as I know, few parents bothered.

One trend that was present was manufacturers building larger picture tubes. 27" became the standard TV size, and up to 35" was common. Rear-projection sets had been available since the 1980's, but those and other large-format displays (above 35") only really took off in the mid-2000's, for two reasons: 1) the picture was really grainy at normal viewing distance (HD fixed that), and 2) for a rear-projection set, you were easily talking 300 or more lbs. Flatscreen displays (LCD and plasma) dropped tremendously in price between about 2002 and 2007.

Small-dish systems came out, acting as sky-based cable providers for millions of homes by re-transmitting the signals to high-powered satellites. They were expensive their first year but dramatically cheapened and become very competitive with cable.
Old 12-23-2013, 10:21 AM
Location: Duluth, Minnesota, USA
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1980's: Primarily by landline telephones; virtually every house and business had one by now. Still a lot of old telco standard-model sets, rotary (where you spin the dial). Local calls free, long distance major $$$. Carphones, operating on the 1G analog AMPS system, are somewhat common in certain circles by late 1989, but they charge prohibitive fees and have a high initial cost.

Fax machines become common.

1990's: The first reasonably handheld cellular phones; per-minute rates when you were in your area were costly, and roaming? REALLY pricey. Cell phone companies were often local. Verizon, AT&T, etc. munched up those years ago. Cell phones became cheaper and much more widespread throughout the decade (particularly at the end), though most only could access the analog AMPS network, which could not support texting, and you could listen in to conversations on scanners and even old TV sets with fine tuning on channels 79-83. Satellite portable phones made quite a stir in the media, but as the American cell network expanded, they became more of an adventurer's thing.

Those who could not afford a cell phone and all its costs got a pager, a little device that said who "paged you", usually with the intention of telling you to call them back. Some pagers in the later years (1996-) had dot-matrix LCD screens that could support accessing not only pages but also news and sports, etc. They were rapidly rendered obsolete by the falling prices of cell phones and calls.

Many (probably most) homes switched from corded to cordless landline phones during this decade. Until they begin to implement security measures such as spread spectrum, such phones were very easy to monitor using a scanner. Heck, the 49 MHz ones could easily be picked up on walkie talkies, baby monitors, etc. 2.4 and 5.8 GHz ones, outside the range of most scanners, are common today, but believe me, 900 MHz (third-generation) had the BEST range.

Fax machines are found in almost every place of business and even some homes.
Old 12-24-2013, 08:38 PM
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I think the 90s were very similar to the 80s, with two exceptions: hip hop becoming mainstream and 1997 onwards seeming more like the 00s.

The Cold War also ended in the early 90s but in a way that's as much a similarity as a difference since the global movement towards economic integration and the economic right was already well underway in the 80s, and the fall out of the collapse of the eastern bloc defined the 90s (the Balkan Wars, and the continued civil wars in the Third World).

The 80s and 90s are both similar in the sense they were defined by hyper capitalism, materialism, violent movies, cheesy teen pop, the culture wars and early digital electronics.
Old 12-25-2013, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by belmont22 View Post
I think the 90s were very similar to the 80s, with two exceptions: hip hop becoming mainstream and 1997 onwards seeming more like the 00s.

The Cold War also ended in the early 90s but in a way that's as much a similarity as a difference since the global movement towards economic integration and the economic right was already well underway in the 80s, and the fall out of the collapse of the eastern bloc defined the 90s (the Balkan Wars, and the continued civil wars in the Third World).

The 80s and 90s are both similar in the sense they were defined by hyper capitalism, materialism, violent movies, cheesy teen pop, the culture wars and early digital electronics.
Cheesy teen pop exists in just about every decade of the 20th century. The B movies of the 50ies, poodle skirts. Bobby socks in the 40ies/50ies.

I wouldn’t call the 90ies hyper capitalistic beyond maybe NAFTA. The violent movies were caused by different social mores and better special effects. 70ies moves can also be violent. Also the current movie rating system has only been around since 1968, before then there was the Hayes code which applied to all movies and it rather limited things. Granted by the 50ies and 60ies they were being pushed.

The Hayes code was a blank set of rules that applies to ALL movies rather than the current rules that allow you to do anything(like violence or nudity) but you will receive an rating tied to it. i.e. A movie about David and Golaith or David and Bathsheba could be G, PG, PG-13, R or NC-17 depending on just how violent the “slaying” of Golaith is and how much nudity there is with Bathsheba. Where as in the past it would have been forced to abide under one set of rules such as no nudity.

The 80ies bring the PG-13 rating to put some space between PG and R movies and the 90ies NC-17 replaces X due to the association with porn.
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