Telecommunications in the 1980's
The world of telecommunications finally made it's way into the mainstream by the 1980's. The cost of this new technology was still very expensive and was out of reach for many Americans, but the usefulness of this new technology quickly took the working world by storm and slowly made it's way into American homes.
The 1980's saw a crash in the gaming console industry due to an oversaturation of the market, too many low quality games were going out on Atari and other systems of the time and people were getting tired of stagnant technology. This crash allowed the personal computing industry to develop and opened the door for the Japanese company Nintendo (located in Redmond, WA since 1980) to launch their new gaming system the NES. Retailers were slow to buy in but by the end of the 1980's it was the best selling gaming system on the market and new systems were being introduced to compete. Systems with much better graphics and advanced features like the Sega Genesis were released in the United States in 1989.
But the 1980's wasn't all about computers and games, it also brought personal camcorders to record and capture family events and the car phone was introduced to keep busy business men connected while on the go. The United States was ready for greater connectivity as these new telecommunication systems increased profits, efficiency and general happiness in a time when materialism and consumerism was thriving.
Task 1: Watch the Introductory Video to this Unit (5 minutes)
Task 2: Review Technology Included on Bracket and Conduct Research (45 minutes)
Task 3: Prepare for Bracket Debate (5 minutes)
Task 4: Sweet 16 Bracket of 1980’ Technology (45 minutes)
The 1980’s brought a lot of new technology to the public that changed the way we lived and influenced American culture and Pop Culture for decades to come.
You will have 20 minutes to prepare for the bracket
Review the bracket of 16 new technologies that changed America in the 1980’s
Spend your remaining prep time to review information provided on this page and explore other sources that will prepare you for the draft
Each student must be prepared to provide evidence to persuade others to support your selection during the bracket
Time to Vote
Each match-up will begin by allowing anyone that wants to speak in favor of one of the choices
Discussion is limited to 1 minute per match-up
Voting will immediately follow each discussion
Popular vote wins
Bracket rounds starts with lowest match-up and progresses in numerical order
After 4 rounds we will have a Champion in our 1980’s Technology Bracket
In 1983, the North American video game industry experienced a major “crash” due to a number of factors, including an oversaturated game console market, competition from computer gaming, and a surplus of over-hyped, low-quality games, such as the infamous E.T., an Atari game based on the eponymous movie and often considered the worst game ever created. Lasting a couple of years, the crash led to the bankruptcy of several home computer and video game console companies.
The video game home industry began to recover in 1985 when the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), called Famicom in Japan, came to the United States. The NES had improved 8-bit graphics, colors, sound and gameplay over previous consoles. (https://www.history.com/topics/inventions/history-of-video-games )
Nintendo, a Japanese company that began as a playing card manufacturer in 1889, released a number of important video game franchises still around today, such as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid.
Additionally, Nintendo imposed various regulations on third-party games developed for its system, helping to combat rushed, low-quality software. Third-party developers released many other long-lasting franchises, such as Capcom’s Mega Man, Konami’s Castlevania, Square’s Final Fantasy, and Enix’s Dragon Quest (Square and Enix would later merge to form Square Enix in 2003. (https://www.history.com/topics/inventions/history-of-video-games )
In the 1980s, 8-bit microprocessors reigned in most video game consoles—partly due to their low cost and partly due to familiarity. 16-bit CPUs had been around since the 1970s, but they remained prohibitively expensive for low-cost consumer products until the late 1980s, when they steadily decreased in price. This new breed of processors gave companies a great chance to one-up the competition through improvement and innovation. Sega did exactly that when it designed a new console, the Mega Drive, based on its powerful 16-bit arcade hardware. With the release of the Mega Drive, Sega inaugurated a new technological era in the game console arms race. (https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2008/11/sega-genesis-turns-20/ )
In 1981, IBM launched the "Personal Computer." Revealed at a press conference at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, the 21-pound PC cost $1,565, boasted 16K of memory, and had the ability to connect to a TV set, play games and word process.
While IBM wasn't the first or only company with a personal computer on the market (the Apple II was launched in 1977), it kick-started the home computing revolution. A year later, the personal computer was selected as Time Magazine's "Man (or rather, Machine) of the Year." (https://mashable.com/2011/08/12/ibm-pc-history/ )
Apple introduces the Macintosh with a television commercial during the 1984 Super Bowl, which plays on the theme of totalitarianism in George Orwell´s book 1984. The ad featured the destruction of “Big Brother” – a veiled reference to IBM -- through the power of personal computing found in a Macintosh.
The Macintosh was the first successful mouse-driven computer with a graphical user interface and was based on the Motorola 68000 microprocessor. Its price was $2,500. Applications that came as part of the package included MacPaint, which made use of the mouse, and MacWrite, which demonstrated WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) word processing.
Apple introduces the Macintosh with a television commercial during the 1984 Super Bowl, which plays on the theme of totalitarianism in George Orwell´s book 1984. The ad featured the destruction of “Big Brother” – a veiled reference to IBM -- through the power of personal computing found in a Macintosh. The Macintosh was the first successful mouse-driven computer with a graphical user interface and was based on the Motorola 68000 microprocessor.
Its price was $2,500. Applications that came as part of the package included MacPaint, which made use of the mouse, and MacWrite, which demonstrated WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) word processing. (https://www.computerhistory.org/timeline/computers/ )
Rise of the Fax
Although the technology dated back to the nineteenth century, the heyday of the fax machine was the 1980s when it was described as, “today’s fastest-growing area of office automation and business communication.” The arrival of the fax machines accelerated communicators’ abilities to get reporters information on a timely basis, liaise more efficiently with regional offices and partners, and make decisions and get approval on strategic communications plans more quickly. And to boot, its security allowed organizations to be much less dependent on individual phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
The familiar screech of the fax machine and sight of workers scurrying between in-trays and the fax machine was an integral part of every communications office and agency. The downside was that, unfortunately, there were not enough fax machines to handle the volume of faxes that communications professionals were sending and you got a busy signal more often than not. To add to the frustration, fax machines had no rollover feature, so you had to find that precise moment when someone else’s fax had just finished going through and the line was free for you to send your fax through. Many communications professionals today can attest to sometimes having to spend an entire day during their early careers trying to get an important fax to go through. (https://www.forumone.com/ideas/communications-in-the-1980s-the-era-of-the-fax-machine/ )
Cameras and Phones
The personal camcorder allowed the average america to becomes a filmmaker on their own, they could capture moments in their family and even re-watch their footage right from the device. This opened up the door for home videos with full color and sound and a way to easily share your family moments. These camcorders became widely popular and were used by families all across america throughout the 1980's and 1990's.
Cell phone technology had also progressed to the point that it became a reliable and efficient way to conduct business. While cell phones initially were connected to cars or large transport bags, by the end of the 1980's they were becoming increasingly affordable and desirable amongst the US population.
In 1982 JVC and Sony officially announced the creation of the “CAMera/recorder”, or camcorder. Sony’s Betamovie Beta camcorder used the slogan “Inside This Camera Is a VCR” and came to mainstream market in May 1983. Just a year later, Kodak introduced the 8 mm format. In 1985, Sony introduced the first chip-based camcorder “Video 8”, and JVC introduced the VHS-C, a more compact alternative to the typical VHS cassette. In 1992, the first color LCD screen came to life, replacing the traditional viewfinder that necessitated squinting through a tiny hole to witness a scene. All in all, it wasn’t long before easy-to-use, colored, high resolution video became the new norm. (https://legacybox.com/blogs/analog/history-of-the-camcorder )
Cell phones were originally created so people could take while they drove. Initially called “car phones”, early cell phones were bulky, cumbersome, and expensive compared to today’s modern devices. The world’s first cell phone was launched in 1983. It was the Motorola DynaTAC 800x. It was priced at around $4,000 and lasted for 30 minutes of talk time before dying. It was also about the size of a foot long sub from Subway.
Despite the phone’s large size, it was still considered to be the most portable telephone ever made. For the first time in history, a human being could call someone without the constraints of wires or portable phone holders. (https://bebusinessed.com/history/history-cell-phones/ )