Call Me! Phones of the 80s

Since my teen years in the 1980s, phones have changed immensely. They have gone from big, clunky, curly-corded devices to sleek, tiny, talking computers that you can take anywhere with you. Where you were once tied to the kitchen chatting endlessly with your B/F/F or nervously hanging up on that boy you had a crush on after he said hello, now you can blab away while in your car, walking down the street, grocery shopping, trying on clothes in a store, sitting on the bus or subway, or dining in a restaurant. It’s kind of annoying.

Let’s take a look back at a time before the smart phone – before the cordless phone even. Here are the standout telephones of the 80s:

The Kitchen Phone

Next to my bedroom, the kitchen was the most important room of my teenage years. It’s where meals were consumed, snacks were grabbed, and hours were spent talking on the telephone. I would stretch the long curly cord and the handset into the bathroom to ensure a little privacy. My dad was constantly yanking me out of there or picking up the handset upstairs telling me to GET OFF THE PHONE. I can still picture our marigold colored wall phone with the curly twisty cord, which was tangled and stretched out from consistent use and abuse.

Rotary wall phone from the 80s

The Novelty Phone

80s-novelty-phones

My B/F/F Susie had one of those hamburger phones, and I was soooo jealous of it. Besides the burger, there was also the red hot lips model, Mickey Mouse, the Hulk and the football phone (remember that guy – the free gift with a Sports Illustrated subscription).

Sports Illustrated Football Phone

Oh, and if you wanted to feel all girly and old-timey, there was the ultra-feminine Victorian phone.

Fancy 80s Victorian Phone

But, no novelty phone could sum up the decade better than this novelty phone, combining communication with one of the hottest toys of the decade.

Cabbage Patch Kids phone

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure if I’d want her staring at me as I made pathetic emergency breakthrough calls to my ex-boyfriend after getting a busy signal for the last two hours.

Thanks to reader, Shannon, for reminding us the ubiquitous and oh-so-fun Garfield phone by Tyco.  You remember this guy; his eyes opened when you picked up the phone and shut when you hung it up.  You can still find these 80s gems on ebay for around $25.00 (most still in working condition!).

80s garfield phone by tyco

The Modern Phone

These new-fangled phones were so hi-tech! You could press buttons rather than use a dial! And they came in fashionable colors like clear (where you could see all the cool inner-workings of the phone) black, and pink!

80s Clear Phone

"Pinky" Conair phone

I had this pink beauty – just seeing a picture of it brings me back to my very pink bedroom that I had to go along with the pink phone. I bet if you counted the hours I spent on that Conair phone it would add up to well over half my life.

The Car Phone

Nowhere close to how we talk on the phone in the car today, these 80s car phones kept things totally awesome by bringing the kitchen wall phone into the driver’s seat of your luxurious automobile.

Big handset? Check.

Long, curly cord? Check.

This was the old school mobile phone for your automobile. But you better finish up that conversation in the car, because that is where this phone was staying.

80s Car Phone from 16 Candles

It baffles my children that as a teenager Mommy did not have a cell phone. And that is a very good thing. Because I would have gotten in waaay more trouble if they existed back when I was a kid. I’m also grateful for those memories of lying on my bed, or being locked in the bathroom off the kitchen, twirling that curly cord between my fingers.

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Author: Lori Ferraro

Lori is a writer and actor living in Portland, OR. Her website, Drawn to the 80s, is where her 5 year old draws the greatest music hits of the 1980s. She is a blogger for The Huffington Post and her own blog, Once Upon a Product, is where she writes about important things like beauty products, music, her obsession with Mick Jagger and of course...the 80s.

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10 Comments

  1. Another excellent and nostalgia-inducing article! I had the clear conairphone pictured (which was absolutely appropriate for a glam-metal rocker like myself) and basically wore it out. It was replaced with a cordless phone, which I also wore out… BTW- I totally miss the antennas from the old cordless phones- there was nothing better than ending a call by slamming the antenna down.

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    • I miss the big ‘ol antenna too Jake. And jealous that you had that cool, clear futuristic phone!

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  2. You forgot the Garfield Phone. Most epic phone of the 80’s. Once on a vacation I saw one at an antique store for 8 bucks and I passed on it because I didn’t want to pack it. Big mistake they go for way more than that on ebay.

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  3. I still have my clear phone with all the different colored insides as shown in this article, and we’re still using it today. I’ll never get rid of it. It’s quite the conversation piece at our house, right on the coffee table for all to see, just like it was in the 80s. We have a Swatch phone in our bedroom.

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  4. There is one old phone I wish I still had. I remember it having a big ear speaker thing, single phone, no base and colorful. It had purple, teal and pink?

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  5. Great article and memories! I had a stretched out cord on the kitchen phone from pulling the line all the way out the back door when my boyfriend called!
    Always wanted the red lips phone and the super mod looking circular phone! I might have to head over to ebay now… :)

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  6. This is great but you need ALOT MORE PHOTOS!

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  7. I had the Garfield phone and the clear phone back in the day. Cant believe these phones sets were all the rage back in the 80s and 90s. We’ve sure come a long way since then.

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  8. I had the Garfield phone and the clear phone back in the day. Cant believe these phones sets were all the rage back in the 80s and 90s. We’ve sure come a long way since then. I remember there was also the car shaped, lips, golf clubs, french fries and piano shaped phone sets.

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