Communication Devices in the Decade of the 1980s

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Exciting events happened throughout the 1980s. The Berlin Wall fell, Nintendo was invented, and Madonna invaded the new music channel MTV. With the widespread excitement and busy attitude of Americans, several new technologies rose in popularity as a means to keep people connected to the happenings of the decade and to each other.

1 Car Phones

While bulky cellular phones were invented in the late 1980s, the car phone was the standard for portable telephone communications during the decade. The phone received a better signal because it was hardwired to the car’s battery and used signals connected to landline telephone towers. The device came standard on many luxury vehicles, but it could be installed on most vehicles separately typically in the center console.

2 Cordless Telephones

The pain and frustration of getting wrapped up in the long phone cord connecting the base to the receiver was finally alleviated with the birth of the cordless phone. The first cordless phone occupied a frequency at the 27 MHz range, and only allowed the user to walk within 100 feet of the transmitter. The first cordless phones also had issues with static and interference. As the technology became more mainstream, the FCC allowed other frequencies to be used for cordless phone transmissions, such as the 47-49 MHz, and finally in 1990, the 900-MHz range, which was used by many for a decade.

3 Fax Machines

The use of telefacsimiles, or fax machines, in the business world rose dramatically between 1983 and 1989, from 300,000 to 4 million worldwide. A fax basically scans a document and creates an electronic representation of the data, which is then sent to a second party. In the 1980s, this was accomplished through the use of land-based telephone lines. While the technology was originally developed in the 1960s, fax machines’ popularity in the 1980s was attributed to a faster global economy and a smaller design model developed by Xerox.

4 One-way pager

Emergency personnel, doctors and even IT specialists could be seen wearing a one-way pager in the 1980s. A sender calls the telephone number of the page and is then prompted to enter a phone number. The receiver would then need to call the party back to find out about the situation. The limited functionality of the device made it a novelty of the decade, eventually being displaced by cellular phones and two-way pagers in the 1990s, which could receive both phone numbers and short messages.

Based in Memphis, Tenn., Elizabeth Link has been a professional writer since 2008. Her work has appeared locally and regionally in publications such as "Emerald Coast Bride Magazine," "DeSoto Magazine" and "Romantic Destinations Magazine." Link holds a Master of Arts in journalism from the University of Memphis.