What’s New IN ELECTRONICS (Feb, 1980)


CB in the dark
CB can be a lifesaver—but it can also endanger your life if you’re fumbling with controls in the dark while driving. This GE Night Bright rig, however, is designed to be seen—the entire front panel lights up for a quick pick at dials when needed. It’s $149.95.

Wireless alarm
Plug in the Pittway First Alert master alarm box and you’ve guarded yourself against burglary, fire, gas, and personal emergencies. Wireless detectors throughout the house transmit signals to the box, which sounds an alert and displays the type of danger. It’s $159.95.

Color camera
The new Magnavox 8244 gives you features you’d expect to see only on much more expensive home color-video cameras: powered 5X zoom lens, automatic iris control, through-the-lens viewing, color-balance control, and 270 lines of resolution. Price: $975.

Electronic note pad
How do you make sure that you’ll remember something for a whole year? Don’t tell it to an elephant—program it into this pocket-sized Sharp appointment calculator. It’s easy to carry, and with 37 memories it can save words, numbers, and symbols. Price $99.95.

Auto cueing
You put the record on the platter—but that’s all. The Optonica RP-7705 automatic direct-drive turntable seeks up to nine cuts you’d like played, and places the stylus in the correct groove. All you do is listen. Specs: 0.03 percent WRMS and -70-dB rumble. It’s $400.

Cordless phone
Pull the walkie-talkie-like handset from its recharger/base and you’re never out of touch—it’s a telephone, complete with pushbutton dialing, electronic “ringing,” and auto re-dial of busy numbers.

It works up to 300 feet from base. The Radio Shack unit costs $219.95.

  1. christoph says: October 7, 20114:41 pm

    Man, electronics were *expensive*. Especially for the specs, and considering those were 1980 dollars.

  2. BO BABBYO says: October 7, 201111:29 pm

    Yeah the new products were HUGELY expensive. I remember a six-digit calculator being around $100.00 or so in 1973. And weren’t Pulsar watches over a thousand dollars?

  3. LightningRose says: October 8, 20118:25 am

    Christoph, I have an ad scan circa 1980 showing a VCR for $1500.

  4. Casandro says: October 8, 20111:13 pm

    Actually those early 1980s single tube cameras were horribly bad. You mostly had a very fuzzy image with some blotches of colour.

  5. Neil Russell says: October 9, 20113:44 pm

    I was working at a Radio Shack store that year and almost everyone that looked at the cordless phone would ask the same thing; “can I take it in the car?”
    Our standard answer got to be, “yes, but don’t take it too far out of the driveway”

    I don’t remember if these things were pulse/tone switchable, maybe just pulse only.
    The step down model from this one didn’t have a number pad on it, it was answer-only and I seem to remember it beling $100 cheaper.

    Funny what a difference 30 years can make

  6. Ray says: October 10, 20116:54 am

    Actually the single-tube cameras were quite good by the 80s and had replaced the three-tube cameras for all news organizations. I worked for Sony and Sony Broadcast in the 70s and watched this technology evolve.

  7. Casandro says: October 10, 201111:30 am

    @Ray: The definition of “quite good” is fairly relative. I mean U-Matic also was “quite good”, however the BBC still called the quality “annoying” when they assessed it.

    In Germany, for example, Sony only got hold in the 1990s when 3-CCD cameras became popular and they simply were so much cheaper than domestic products.

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