Wednesday, June 23, 2010

1980s Swatch Phones & AT&T Cordless Phones


Stephanie from Full House on her bulky cordless phone
It's difficult to remember a time when we didn't have cell phones, let alone cordless phones. Around age 12, I became a real phone addict. Saturday nights my parents would find me chatting with crushes and girlfriends into the wee hours while sprawled out on our kitchen booth bench. I'd dial up a gal pal and we'd recap what happened on that evening's episode of Silver Spoons or Growing Pains.

My dad wasn't a fan of my lengthy phone chats. By age 13, he invested in a second phone line. I felt very spoiled having my own personal phone number in my bedroom. I would snuggle up with my Swatch phone and chat with friends comfortably under the covers.

Totally 80s Swatch phone
By about 1985 or 1986 cordless phones became all the rage. They were bulky white or gray plastic with metal antennas. I would often attempt to walk around our yard while chatting in the summer, but the connection was so incredibly fuzzy.

I won't bore you with the details and history of the cordless phone, however one cool thing about the early cordless phones from the 1980s was that you could often pick up other people's conversations. Eavesdropping on other people's phone calls. Other than COPS, there wasn't reality television back then.


Check out this old school 1980s AT&T cordless phone commercial for an $88 deal at Kmart.

 

39 comments:

Kristie said...

I had a swatch phone and loved it! It was pink and mint green. Isn't it funny how we loved to talk on the phone back in the day? I don't hardly talk to anyone on the phone these days except my Mom and a few friends here and there.

TS Hendrik said...

My mind instantly goes to Anthony Edwards in The Sure Thing with one of my favorite quotes:

"I'm talking to you cordless"

Hilarious.

Hagler Happenings said...

I never had a swatch phone OR my own line! Lucky girl, you are. That commercial is great!

One Blonde Girl said...

My sister and I had our own phone line in our room, but it doubled as our dad's fax line for his business, so that was, um, fun. Especially when a fax was coming in at 7:00 am, and we would answer the phone, half asleep, only to have that awful squealing/screeching in our ear. Plus, our step-mom liked to listen in on our conversations on the fax phone downstairs. So, it was cool for, like, a minute, but then... not so much. Oh, and we had one of those neon light-up phones, and let me tell you, that thing was BRIGHT!

Sara Louise said...

Having your own phone line was the coolest thing ever! I got one my sophomore year in HS. No swatch phone though, but I did have one of those phones with the huge buttons on it

Crazy Brunette said...

I got my own line when I was 13 too! I was a fucking rockstar!!!

ISRAEL CARRASCO said...

I thought I was the shit when I got my pager and would receive "secret" messages via the pager.

Ms. Anthropy said...

I remember Swatch watches, but not the phones. My daughter was the youngest of my four kids. We were forced to get her a separate line. My boys talked on the phone, but nothing like she did!

Joe Cap said...

Ah, Ally, you are so young...I love it! Cell phones are still pretty much a novelty for me, I am just starting to get used them being so prolific. But hell, I am so old that color TV is still pretty much awesome to me as well!

Mamma has spoken said...

I remember when the cordless phone came out, and private lines, the answering machine, and the cell phone....

1950's_atomic_ranch_house said...

Hmmm I remember Swatch watches were all the rage, but don't think I've heard of the Swatch phone.

AngeliStarr said...

LMFAO I remember picking up other peoples phone convos. But it usually was while I was on a cord phone. The cordless we had in the house RARELY!!! picked up outside convos. SMH. -_-

Beamer said...

I still have my Swatch phone and it works!! My daughters think it's cool because they can both be on it (the base doubles as another hand held phone). Mine is clear purple with some graphics on it and a neon green cord.

Joann Mannix said...

I came from a family with 6 siblings. The phone was a constant war in our house. My dad couldn't afford a second line and he refused to do the new fangled call waiting thing, so our phone was a constant source of controversy in our house.

Those old phones bring back such memories.

Remember the old cell phones that were bigger than a brick? Man, how times have changed.

Copyboy said...

I remember those cordless wonders with antennas that seemed to never end. I USED TO LOVE TO PLAY THE FUZZY GAME TOO. Wait that didn't come out right.

LaraAnn said...

I really don't remember the Swatch phones. I didn't like talking on the phone back then and still don't - is that kind of weird? I think that we had a cordless phone in the late 80s and since then have mostly gotten that kind.

The Random Blogette said...

I remember the swatch phones but I was never allowed to have one. =( I do remember the Zach Morris cordless phone. I thought he was so dreamy and the cordless phone made him so much more awesome!

Amber Von Felts said...

HAHA! I used to have a Garfield phone where part of his back lifted up to reveal a phone. It would meow instead of ring. I remember wanting of those clear phones though!

Salt said...

I never had a Swatch phone (watch yes...phone no), but we did have one of those massive cordless deals! And I remember when my mom got her first car phone too. It was all huge and had a cord. Hilarious.

sara said...

We had a second line and a Swatch phone too! Totally tubular! Makes me want one again...

Marlene said...

Wow - you were totally privileged! LOL! I never got such a cool "swatch phone". I never got my own line either. In fact, my parents had ONE phone in the house - in THEIR bedroom!! They finally added a second phone in the kitchen when they decided I was a pain in the ass...LOL.

Deana said...

Wow, does this post take me back!

Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting:)So glad you found me and me you...well, you know what I mean:)

The Cupcake Cauldron said...

I have a clear phone so you could see all the guts inside. And, when it rang, it lit up neon colors! Woooooahhhh. LOL I remember when I got my first cordless and it was the size of a shoe box. Huge!! Back then there was no unlimited calling either, so my parents went crazy when i called out of town friends!

Jess and the boys said...

Thanks for the follow! I'm following you back! :)

http://giveawaysandlife.blogspot.com/

Darlene said...

Being poor I wasn't aloud on the phone. And I got a Pwatch instead of a Swatch. LOL... The commercials though, what a hoot!

FabuLeslie said...

So jealous of your swatch phone and your OWN phone line!! My sister and I always wanted one of those, but my dad was very...thrifty. ha! I did have a swatch watch though.

Jennifer said...

the light up phones were great. And Since I still have one of those prehistoric landlines as well as my celly...I have come to dispise cordless phones. The batteries suck and often die wen you need them most! $88 dollars wasnt that a bit steep back then? No wonder my mom wouldnt buy one

MiMi said...

i had a light up see through phone...but that was in like 93! LOL

Pana said...

Oh man, those Swatch phones were the coolest! And you and your friend could be on the phone at the same time because the cradle was another headset, if I remember correctly. BRILLIANCE

liz said...

I don't remember Swatch phones, just the watches. But I totally remember that enormous antenna needed on them!

Christiejolu said...

We had one of those big cordless phones...The other day we were walking pass some public phones and my daughter said "Mommy what are those" LOL!

Hutch said...

I begged and begged for a new line to no avail, instead I had to worry about my dad listening in or picking up when I was on a call...the worst!

Babes Mami said...

I remember my first cordless phone in my own room it was purple, slightly clear, I don't reember the brand but they came in several colors. :]

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I used to love the phone as a teen. I would move as far away as I could with that long phone cord so that my folks couldn't hear my conversations. I remember how cool it was to have a phone that you could walk around the house with. It ever had push buttons and not that crappy rotary dial system. You felt like you were on the 'Jetsons' with that wireless bad boy.

Though now I hate the phone, I hate the ring and I hate talking on it. It's my least favorite way of communicating with someone especially if that person likes to talk as much as I do. I find it very frustrating that I can't finish my sentence without being interrupted by their reaction to what I have just said.

Email or IM might be less personal but it's superior in my book.

Can you tell I don't have a cellphone?

pika23 said...

never got one, but always wanted the con-air brand phones...they were all sorts of girly colors...however, my downfall was caller ID...I'd try to call my mom and tell her I was at a friends house and she'd be all..."I didn't know sharon lived near a pay phone with a new york area code" BUSTED!!!

Tara said...

i had a swatch phone! it wasn't that great though so i got a different see-thru phone instead. it was bulkier (looked like a typical phone for the time) but i LOVED it and kept it for years! i remember when i got my own phone line for my 12th birthday. my dad worked for the phone company so he installed it for me. the phone rang, and i answered it and it was my mom. she was calling from the kitchen :-)

~ Noelle said...

my friend sara had a phone like that...
i thought it was so cool that we both could be on the same phone talking to someone else..
lol, crazy

and i just HAD to have my own line

~ Noelle said...

i also remember my first cell phone... it was the bag kind
lmao

Syeda Saba Zehra said...

Great article! I work with college students and will pass this on! Thanks so much :)
Fantastic tips as usual and you were right-- I haven't seen a lot of these before anywhere else! Thanks so much!
phones

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