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Technology News Timeline 1980-1989

ibm pc 1980's

1980Cable-TV gets an all-news channel - Cable News Network. With this and sports-formatted ESPN channel -  It's the beginning of specialized "niche" channels for television... Cassette tapes for audio record and playback are more popular than ever - at the expense of 8-Track and vinyl. You can now get metal-oxide cassettes for higher quality audio... The Sony Walkman cassette player debuts. Take your music anywhere... IBM is talking to Microsoft about a new kind of software for their new line of ... something called - a personal computer... Satcom... More and more broadcasters are turning to satellites to deliver programming - television and radio. RCA leads with its Satcom telecommunications satellite.  

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Commercial For RCA SelectaVision Video Disc System

1981-  For big-screen television viewing - rear-projection television is getting attention... Competing with VHS and Betamax tape for home TV content is the RCA "SelectaVision" video disc system (this won't last long and would cost RCA $millions)... The FCC approves cell-phone service. AT&T says it'll be ready in 70 cities by 1983... Another niche cable-TV channel, "Music Television" debuts... IBM debuts their first personal computer. It's being run by software developed by Microsoft called, (Microsoft Disk Operating System) "MSDOS 1."... Seen - huge satellite dishes (C-Band) in the yards of some homes. These folks are essentially "pirating" cable-TV - by viewing non-scrambled feeds of premium channels such as HBO, Cinemax and others. The VIC-20 computer from Commodore - a tiny computer - is big with those who play computer games and other nifty things... Midway releases "Pac-Man" in the U.S. - an extemely popular video game - debuting in Japan last year. Catch it on Atari systems...

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Kodak Disc Camera

1982 Kodak unveils the disc camera - no need for film - just pop in a disc... The Compact Disc - the digital answer to consumer audio - debuts. It'll take a few years - but, by the end of the decade, CD's will overtake vinyl albums... Magnavox has a competing video disc system - but like the RCA video disc format - it won't last long. And, they are not compatible... WABC -AM radio in New York - once the top contemporary music station - goes talk as music continues its jump the the FM band...  The FCC approves direct-satellite-to-home tv service. It'll have a bumpy start - but eventually - it will take off with companies such as DISH and Direct-TV - but, not now... AM stereo - AM radio is trying to catch up with FM by offering AM stereo (they could have back in the 1950's)... two competing stereo systems are out - Kahn and Magnavox - but the FCC won't clear one or the other. You need different radios for each standard. (this would kill AM stereo by 1990).

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technology news timeline 1983 motorola cell phone1983 - Apple unveils the IIe personal computer... AT&T gives up its ownership of 22 local "Bell" telephone companies - this after the government break-up of the communications giant... Microsoft will make it easier for users to interface with their computers with something called, "Windows." It'll contain neat graphics and should debut soon (the idea is not new with Gates & Company borrowing the idea from Xerox)... Another long-distance phone company is making noise - and competes directly with AT&T - "MCI"... Cell phone service begins roll-out. Unlike limited car radio telephones, the service promises that you can make a phonecall from almost anywhere. Motorola is one of the earliest manufacturers of these devices. The analog cell system uses 40mhz in the 850mhz band - and has 666 total available channels... 

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The Compact Disc Is Explained By Sony

1984 - Apple introduces the Macintosh personal computer with many saying it's far superior than anything IBM/Microsoft... The FCC approves stereo sound for television ...  Cell-phone service is rolled out in places such as New York and Los Angeles... . There seems to be a Compact Disc shortage. Not enough pressing plants, particularly here in the U.S. Average cost per CD album - just over $20.00... Another trend in home phones - more memory for storing phone numbers - faster dialing... 

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Radio Shack "More Memory" Phone Commercial

1985 - HBO begins to scramble its satellite feeds to cable-TV systems - this to cut-off those who view the channel through their own C-Band satellite systems for free... Microsoft rolls-out Windows 1.0. It's still pretty-much a plain-jane interface compared to the Apple IIe...  Radio stations are boasting that they're playing cuts off of compact disc... A big problem for IBM is so-called "PC clones" from companies such as Compaq. Microsoft still gets license fees off these other "IBM'-type computers - but IBM does not benefit... She has the most famous voice these days. She's heard everywhere on telephones - from time to "wrong number." Her name is Jane Barbe (Barbie). See Video...

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Jane Barbe - The Telephone Voice Lady 

  

1986 -  Sony rolls out digital cassette tapes. The format will not last long... Compaq introduces the Deskpro 386 - "the most powerful personal computer in the world"... The 45rpm single is disappearing. Cassette singles (cassette tape) are getting favored...

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Bill Gates Talks About Personal Computers In 1987

1987-   President Reagan extinguishes "The Fairness Doctrine" - paving the way for super talkshow hosts such as Rush Limbaugh. No longer required - an opposing view - as a host can say what they want... New format for AM radio - as WFAN (sports) debuts in New York. (this began an incredible expansion of sports radio that would continue through 2014)... Finally - a fourth TV network as Fox-TV begins a limited prime-time schedule... Microsoft's Bill Gates says PC graphics are becoming bigger and bigger - and - personal computers will be networking more and more...  Microsoft debuts "WIndows 2.0" - more user friendly - but still - not quite a hit... Microsoft launches "Excel" for Windows. It's an amazing app that helps with spreadsheets and to manage numbers... 

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Radio Shack Cell Phone Commercial

 

1988 -  They are popular - so-called "900" telephone numbers. They're toll numbers that provide all kinds of services. There's even party lines... With telephone deregulation - you can now buy your own telephone booth! (many who invested got ripped due to the proliferation of cell phones and cell phone service)... Home television taping - the (VHS) VCR (video cassette recorder) is everywhere. Tape your favorite show or rent movies...

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VCR's - Are They That Complicated? 

1989 - Compact Discs overtake vinyl albums in total recorded music sales... Apple debuts its Macintosh portable (laptop)... IBM introduces a 1 gig hardrive... Cable-TV penetration hits an all-time high - about 60% of all households...  Click Here For More 1989 Technology

Also See:

1950's   1960's   1970's   1990's   2000's   2010's

 

Contact author Gary West

 
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