Which decade marked the tipping point for consumer gadgets? The 80s of course. Readers that remember 1987 will also remember the Sony Walkman, Super Mario games or the Casio calculator watch just as they remember the sweat bands or day-glow socks from the same era. The 80s saw dozens of cool gadgets go mainstream, but here are our top four.
The Super Mario Brothers games console
The Nintendo Super Mario Brothers game console, a handheld game and watch version of Super Mario Brothers PC game, was released in 1987. The game console was one of the fourth generation (the period is commonly referred to as the 16-bit era), which saw Nintendo go head to head with Sega. The Nintendo Gameboy (with Super Mario Brothers installed) was released in 1989 and the Sega Game Gear console was released in 1990. It marked the start of a long running, platform-packed, war between Nintendo’s Mario Bros and Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog.
The Boodo Khan Sony Walkman
The DD-100, also known as the ‘Boodo Khan’ was launched in 1987 and is the most legendary Sony Walkman of all time (say many collectors). Its most notable feature – the dynamic bass amplification – was the grandfather of the Megabass system. This amplifies the bass as well as the highs, in a dynamic way, meaning it is most intense at low volume and least at high volume. The system ROCKED.
Casio’s calculator watch
Still desirable today, the Casio calculator watch was ubiquitous in 1987. Although pretty big for a watch – at 43mm x 37mm – it was tiny for a calculator, and the buttons were so dinky that only the most deft fingers managed to press single keys. But that wasn’t really the point because calculator watches were cool. Casio’s Databank calculator, which was released in 1987, also stored appointments, names, addresses, and phone numbers and was one of the most widely-purchased that year – and perhaps it was actually useful, who knows? I do think though that the aesthetic was a big part of what made this watch popular. In this case, small really was beautiful.
Yamaha DX7 keyboard
So the Yamaha DX7 wasn’t specifically released in 1987 (it was launched in 1983), but it was still being widely sold and used during this time (over 200,000 were made between 1983 and 1989). It was the first commercially successful digital synthesizer and thousands of wannabe pop stars had one. It had full-sized keys, and a distinctive synth sound with lots of cool presets. Real bands (not just the sort jamming in their parents’ shed) used them. Some of the most famous were Kraftwerk, Talking Heads, Brian Eno, Supertramp, Depeche Mode, U2, Aha, and very many other memorable bands from the era.