A new crop of more powerful consoles was changing the way we played video games, while a few face-mounted 3D units allowed a glimpse at the future; technology was reshaping the way we listened to music; and Apple was making a really nice desktop computer you couldn't afford. When you think about it, the 1980s and early '90s were just like today, only with different haircuts.
And just as tech is reshaping the world at the pace of a stampeding mecha-bison today, there was lots to get excited about back then: the first proper handheld console, the dawn of digital music, the beginnings of a world in which personal computers became a big part of everyday life. Climb into the Stuff time machine (which, incidentally, isn't invented for another eight months) and join us for another dose of delicious gadget nostalgia…
tomytronic 3d (1983)
Its binocular stylings, complete with neck strap, belie the fact that Tomytronic 3D was the first 3D home gaming system. OK, so its gameplay and graphics were a bit repetitive, but chasing high scores in the likes of Shark Attack and Thundering Turbo ensured an immersive experience full of flashing, bleeping fun.
Apple Mac (1984)
Try to imagine using your computer without a mouse. Go on. You’ve given up already, haven’t you? That’s because it’s practically impossible – and the mouse’s existence is all down to the Apple Mac. What it lacked in expandability (a theme that pops up frequently with Apple even today) it made up for in performance (ditto) and price (er, nevermind) but there were other neat touches that would go on to be influential. The all-in-one design lives on today in the iMac while the handle on the top for easy transporting demonstrated the kind of fresh thinking Apple would become famous for. Microsoft’s Windows-powered machines might’ve gone on to rule the world but they’d be nothing without the Apple Mac.
Casio Databank CD-40 (1984)
While you couldn’t exactly call it a smartwatch by today’s standard, the Databank was a trailblazer in wearable tech. Casio had already made watches with calculators in them, but this was the first to include a ‘databank’ which would hold up to 10 phone numbers right there on your wrist. Wearable digital storage in 1984? Yes please.
(Image credit: pocketcalculatorshow.com)
Tamiya Hornet (1984)
The Hornet wasn't Tamiya’s first, nor its fastest remote control car, but its lightweight polycarbonate body meant it could take a Grasshopper at the playground lights. Although it was a sturdy piece of kit, careless Hornet drivers spent as much time fiddling with pranged steering servos or mixing epoxy to glue the spoiler back on as they did racing the thing.
Commodore Amiga 500 (1987)
While Commodore 64 owners sat waiting for their tapes to load, the Amiga 500 galloped ahead with its new-fangled 3.5in floppy discs. The Atari ST’s MIDI support meant it was popular with musicians such as Jean Michel Jarre, but gamers took to the stunning 16-bit ‘HAM’ graphics of the Amiga 500, which gave us classics such as Sensible World Of Soccer, Lemmings and Prince Of Persia.