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Saturday
Feb162013

Memory Lane 1 - High Street Consumer Electronics, 25 years ago.

I've always been interested in consumer electronics, but when I was growing up in the 1980s finding out about the latest products was a lot more difficult than just clicking on a link to The Verge, Engadget or Gizmodo. You couldn't even pick up a copy of T3 or Stuff magazine, you actually had to go into a town and visit a real shop (remember them).

One of the biggest high street names in the UK at the time was Dixons. Now because my £3 pocket-money was usually spent on a budget game for my Spectrum, I couldn't actually afford any of the gadgets on display, so I made do with picking up one of the free catalogues off the counter. When I returned home from the trip this was my own version of the WWW, I used to spend hours poring over these catalogues, wondering if I'd ever be able to save up £1299 to buy a camcorder, and if I could, which one would I'd buy.

The recent demise of a number of familiar UK High Street chains has made me think back to the days when I'd take a trip to the shops just for fun. Luckily I've saved a few of the store catalogues that I picked up in the 1980s and thought you might enjoy having a look at one of them, so I've scanned it and posted a slideshow below.

If this post generates any interest, I have a handful of these (not all from Dixons) that I can upload over time, so please let me know if you would like to see any more.  

This catalogue is from late 1986/early 1987 so it's more like 26 and a bit years ago...but accuracy would have made for a less snappy headline.

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Reader Comments (25)

Oh, and I still have the Technics CD and tape deck and Mordaunt Short speakers I bought with my first few paychecks. Only the Technics amp gave up the ghost just a few years back. For those who don't know, Technics was the higher end brand from Panasonic, famous for its SL-1200 DJ-standard turntables. The brand has been gradually phased out unfortunately.

How many of our current consumer goods will still be fully working in 2038?

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlasdair

"Do you remember the Tandy shops"
"Remember Radio Shack?"

They were one and the same, having started out as separate companies in the USA. Their main in-house brand was "Realistic" Again, I still have a Tandy multi-tester and headphones (not in the one item! LOL)

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlasdair

Superb! More please. I used to do exactly the same as you did! Takes me back to my childhood too!!

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Devanney

Great post.

Reminded me of my beloved 'Computer Shopper' mags. I bought them and dreamt over what I saw on every one of its pages. I used to dream about what I'd buy if lived on the US and had the money :D .

Too bad I didn't keep any of the mags.

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCalvinH

"I used to spend hours pouring over these catalogues". What on earth were you pouring over them? Was cider your tipple?
Seriously, I'm way older than you (hence taught to spell!) and I much enjoyed this trip down memory lane.
I enjoy your videos immensely. Keep up the good work..

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPigman

Apologies, I've corrected my catastrophic spelling faux pas.

February 17, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Another sign of the times. I recently shoved my VCR under the bed. Have not used it in a few years and probably never will again even though I have some old VCR tapes in the house.

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDerick

Thinking about longevity in some older equipment, I bought a Philips D-3210-FTD 'Electronic Clock Radio in 1982. It was very modern-looking at the time with its slim design and digital display. Still on my bedside table and going strong today after 31 years of use!

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

I'm 41 years old and remember these store brochures with the same nostalgia and thoughts etc. I've got a few downloaded ones from the mid 1980s, namely a 1984 Argos catalogue and some Tandy, which was replaced by Maplin once Tandy had gone. Also have a look at the credit finance rates back then........more than 30%! Which is why buying a TV, HiFi or domestic appliance was literally a BIG deal to the ordinary person; whatever they bought had to last at least ten years or more; contrast that with todays disposable easy-come-easy-go mentality, where my sister was treat with sympathy and charity just because her main TV was more than THREE yeas old! Our first black & white TV lasted 14 years before glowing bright orange and going pop. Our next TV, a colour model lasted 23 years but the picture was very fuzzy and faded. Our third TV we still have which was bought in June 2006.

Yes more old brochures and catalogues etc please as they are very interesting!

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIan H

I still see them mini TV Radio combos in thrift stores here in Canada, they made stuff to last back then Matt.

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

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