Where Did They Go? 20 Things From the ’80s That Completely Disappeared

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By Jonathan Trent

The ‘80s was a distinct era, filled with neon lights, fluorescent clothing, and wild hairdos. Unfortunately, by the end of the decade, many of its most iconic features began to fade into obscurity. Here are 20 things from the beloved ‘80s that, sadly, no longer exist in society.


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Who could forget the clunky, noisy sound of a typewriter, distracting everyone within a half-mile radius with its clicks, clacks, and dings? Thankfully, the keyboards on modern computers and laptops are all but silent, as well as being far more reliable. We still miss them, though.

Phone Booths

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Phone booths were once highly important, as they allowed people to make phone calls while out and about, provided they had memorized the number they wanted to call. Mobile phones have now wiped out the phone booth, with New York removing its last public payphone in 2022, according to NPR.

8-bit Video Games

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The 1980s was a very primitive era for the video game industry, with the technology of the time only permitting pixelated, 8-bit gameplay. While these games were nowhere near as graphically sophisticated as the games of today, their fun was in their simplicity. We still play them occasionally!

Floppy Disks

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When computers were still a novelty, people transferred their data using floppy disks, rigid, space-consuming disks that were highly unreliable. These were eventually phased out due to the introduction of USB sticks and hard drives, which are also now being phased out by cloud storage.

Movie Rental

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There was once a time when movie rental stores were a raging success, becoming a stronghold in towns and cities across the country. People would pop in as part of their weekly routine to take out a movie to watch over the weekend, but sadly, streaming services eventually killed off the movie rental stores.


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One of the most life-changing technological devices of the 1980s was the Walkman, the first popular portable music player. It allowed people to listen to music while out and about. The Walkman walked so the iPod, and every portable music device since, could run. Even iPods are gone now!


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There’s no doubt that perms will come back into fashion at some point; these things are always cyclical. However, they are unlikely to ever reach the levels of popularity that the large, flashy haircuts used to have back in the 1980s.

Cassette Tapes

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We no longer rely on cassette tapes to listen to music; originally billed as the more compact, convenient successor to the vinyl record, people soon became annoyed with how often they’d go wrong, needing to be fixed with the back end of a pencil. Once the CD era arrived, cassettes were gone.

Indoor Smoking

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The 1980s was the last decade when smoking indoors was widespread, with bans not coming in until the late 1990s. The 1980s was a decade where the dangers of smoking were beginning to be fully realized, as shown by the National Library of Medicine. Honestly, it should have been ruled out earlier!

VHS Tapes

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Much like cassette tapes, VHS tapes were a hassle to use, often needing TLC just to keep them working. DVDs were the catalyst for the demise of the VHS, with the fast-forward feature, a lack of fuzziness, and no random skipping being their main attraction. However, DVDs are barely used these days!

Physical Maps

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Satellite navigation systems made large, overbearing physical maps a thing of the past. While it is far more convenient to have an electronic device tell you which way to go, it has meant that the generations born from the 1990s onwards are missing out on the skill of map reading.


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Street life was once characterized by groups of people crowded around a boombox playing the records of the time, keeping anyone who worked night shifts wide awake. They were bulky and cumbersome, which is why they were phased out as soon as Bluetooth speakers became affordable.

Landline Phones

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It’s difficult to remember a life without mobile phones and instant messaging when you would have to use your home’s landline system to organize plans with friends and romantic interests. Forbes highlights that the number of landline phones in American homes has recently dipped below 37%, with this number only falling.

Linear Television

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Before the times when streaming was all the rage, families would gather around their oversized television sets and watch whatever their preferred cable network had in store for them. Nowadays, nobody wants to be told what they can and can’t watch, with streaming services offering zero-ad freedom to viewers. We couldn’t live without it!

Roller Disco

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In a semi-throwback to the 1950s, roller discos came back into fashion in the 1980s, offering young people a wholesome place to make friends and go on awkward first dates. Beautiful memories were made at the roller rink, something the youth of today will never understand. We think they’re due for a comeback!

Shoulder Pads

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Who knows why shoulder pads were ever in vogue? Women would walk around looking as though they were dressed as NFL players, with great big shoulders on otherwise petite garments. While they may not have lasted past the ‘80s, they will always be one of the most memorable aspects of ‘80s fashion.

Fluorescent Clothes

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The ‘80s was a special time for fashion. You were more likely to stand out wearing a plain T-shirt and jeans than if you were dressed from head to toe in the brightest colors you could possibly find! Sadly, this was short-lasted; the world has been a less colorful place ever since!


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Waterbeds were another fad that failed to become widespread after they piqued people’s curiosity in the 1980s. The incredible level of maintenance they required didn’t help, nor did the fact that they were so heavy that they could only be used on the first floor. Good riddance!


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Along with the perm, the mullet was the most recognizable haircut of the 1980s, even if History debates whether it dates back to Ancient Rome. The haircut’s tagline, business in the front, party in the back, took off like a wildfire, with hoards of people flocking to their nearest barber to try it.

Walking to School

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Last on our list, walking to school was very common back in the 1980s, especially if they lived relatively close to their school. Nowadays, modern parenting has shifted away from giving children this sort of autonomy, with many kids now being driven in for safety. It’s sad but probably necessary.