Popular Pastimes of the 1980’s

The 80's Blog May 09, 2014

For a lot of kids today, the 1980s seemed like the Dark Ages. There were no Internet, people used typewriters all the time, and there were no smartphones. So just what the heck did people do for fun during those times?
Actually, for many people who lived through the 80s, it was a decade that seemed dedicated to fun in so many ways. That fun was fueled by a lot of pastimes that were either unique to the 1980s or were started during that era:

Video games

While today’s’ kids may debate on and on about the virtues of console vs. PC games, the 80s was pivotal for the development of video games. While it was a $5 billion industry at the beginning of the decade, by 1983 critics were calling it a fad due to flagging sales and unoriginal games. But the industry bounced back in 1985 with the release of the Nintendo console, and the advances in PC games made sure that video gaming will never again disappear from our consciousness.


Rubik’s cube

This infuriating mind-bender was an unlikely craze, but soon enough quite a few kids were fiddling around with colored cubes trying to get them back to their original configuration. It was so popular that today it is widely recognized as the top-selling toy of all time. Since it was launched in 1980, more than 350 million units have been sold. In 2011, it sold 7 million units. Not bad for what was supposed to be a tool to teach students about spatial relationships in 3D objects, developed by a professor in Interior Design.

rubiks cube

BMX bikes

Bikes before BMX were either leisurely rides or designed for races across paved roads. But then BMX came into the picture, and the daredevil era of cycling was born. While it started back in the 1970s, it was during the 80s that it achieved its peak in popularity. Today, BMX competitions are popular all over the world. You can also blame the BMX for the laws which mandated helmets and pads for cyclists today.

bmx bikes


This has been around since back in the 1950s, but it was in the 1980s when just about everyone was skateboarding to school—or at least tried to. Part of its popularity was the distribution of skateboarding video tapes across the nation, and movies like Back to the Future certainly helped.


Trivial Pursuit

Today, everyone who loves trivia can just go online and participate in trivia quizzes, or they can watch Jeopardy. Back in the 1980s they played Trivial Pursuit, a board game which sold an estimated 20 million units in 1984 alone. Since the decade heralded the emergence of the nerds, the game appealed to a lot of people, including parents.

trivial pursuit

Listened to boom boxes

These were the obnoxiously loud portable radios and tape players teenagers brought with them on the streets for background listening or impromptu dancing. Boomboxes were instrumental to the rise of rap music.