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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The shoe phone was still a ways off

A reader who knows our fondness for the latest gadgets sends along this shot from a 1987 issue of Popular Mechanics -- less than 25 years back:

As overall inflation since then has been about 100%, those are some eye-popping prices. Ah, but the future was bright. Wonder what we'll think about today's tech ads a quarter-century hence.

Comments (13)

I had that same shock a year ago, when I discovered that someone had put a huge collection of Highland Appliance ads on YouTube. Many of the ads are still as funny as they were in 1983, but I was just floored by the prices. Remembering when VCRs were the big status symbols in high school, and anybody who didn't have one sucked...I sure hope that the people who paid at least two weeks' pay for one got their money's worth.

Wonder what people would have paid monthly in 1987 for a handheld device that did all 3.

Gosh, I had the "Maxwell Smart" shoe phone as a kid in the 60's. Ahead of my time I guess.

"But, this $1,499 phone is free if you sign up for a 2-year contract ..."

What's even funnier is the note about how this phone is "lightweight". A couple of years ago, I came across a really old mobile phone, from circa 1980, at an estate sale. Nobody, including the sale organizer, knew what it was. The thing was the size and general shape of a wet-vac, and its "directory" consisted of a series of Rolodex cards in a special case on the top. (If I remember correctly, the film Caddyshack featured Rodney Dangerfield using one on the golf course, and apparently that's what this one was used for as well, considering that it was jammed in with a truly gigantic collection of golf gear.)

1980, a mobile phone weighing 40 pounds that cost about $2000 to $2500, minus the obscene service fee. 1987, all that power, with electronic number storage, for almost half that. It makes me wonder if we're going to have phones by 2020, or if they'll just be implanted at birth.

I had a friend from Spokane drive to Portland to buy a VCR late 70's or so - the amount of money he saved on sales tax paid for his trip. As I recall, VCRs were running about 1K a pop back then.

I had that phone in 1990, or one that looked a lot like it, and I got it at Radio Shack. I DID NOT pay anywhere near $1,499 for it.

Boycat, by 1990, the price probably would have been about $600, if you could get coverage for it. Remember the days when those big bricks were worthless between big cities because the relay towers didn't exist?

"Capture Special Moments and Keep Them Forever."

So, who here has a working VHS tape player? Guess those special moments aren't as "forever" as we thought they were in 1988...

I happened to be in Japan in the summer of 1987 and almost bought a CD player for about $160 (with the exchange rate.) I don't recall the brand, but seemed like a steal as it was about 1/2 what I saw them going for in the states and at least $100 less than the others I saw in Tokyo. IN the end I decided to stick with my Sounddesign stereo with turntable, cassette, and 8 track a while longer.

I bought the first generation of that Motorola handheld cell phone from Cellular One in 1985. It was $2,499, plus a monthly fee. I think the monthly fee included the first sixty minutes, and then it was something like 35 cents for each additional minute.

People forget that we were cell phone pioneers here in Portland. I think we were the second city in America to get cell service (after Seattle), thanks to McCaw Communications.

I have an old Motorola brick phone that I use as a paperweight on my desk at work. The younger people in the office are absolutely astounded by it.

I think I bought my first camcorder about that time, when Hitachi came out with the 8mm casette. It was about half the size of the VHS models, but still weighed in the pounds. Waited a while before going cellular. My first brick was about half the size of the one shown here. Life was simpler when we were not all wired for sound 24/7. People understood things could wait until Monday.

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