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Recreating the Authentic ‘80s Entertainment Experience Today

One of the many great aspects of the 1980s is that the decade was right on the cusp of ubiquitous digital technology. This meant that while so much entertainment of the '70s and before has been lost to time, lossless file formats in the '90s have created near-perfect backups of everything the '80s produced. There's only one problem with this; playing perfectly stored digital media doesn't have the same feel as what we experienced back in the day.

Instead, many of us crave the feeling that only older and analog systems can produce. The noise in the system, the heft, a use that was somehow more complex while still being simpler, all of these aspects and more combined into a whole we can't help but miss. Fortunately, the old ways haven't gone the way of the dodo, even though recreating an authentic experience will never be as easy as it once was.

That Which Never Left

Before we get into the complicated, it's important to remember that not everything popular in the 80s has been completely reformed. Perhaps the most famous example of this idea is vinyls. While no longer produced on a mass scale, there's enough of a market for these records to support a wide range of reprinting industries. They might not come with all the original inclusions like picture sleeves, but some of these businesses do have the tech to convert your existing legal CDs and print new sleeves.

"Pine Has Vinyl!" (CC BY 2.0) by cogdogblog

The same can be said for older entertainment pieces you have specific memories of, such as decks of cards. Customer card printing businesses can reproduce your old family decks from whatever you have remaining, for use in classic games like blackjack. If it’s been a while, you still might need to catch up on tips from pros on when to split or surrender, but regaining the classic cards and sharing them with your family can be easier than you think. Just remember to never take insurance.

Television, Gaming, and VHS

This is where things can get tricky. When it comes to VHS tapes, we recommend that you go to a professional and make digital backups as soon as possible. This media has a definite shelf life, and it will decay more and more as time goes by. Buying the wrong VHS player can destroy tapes entirely, so until you have a backup copy, don’t take any risks. Plus, when you have a digital copy, you can reconvert this into a VHS format anyway.

Television and gaming systems are kind of tricky, as older hardware is similarly dying out. CRT TVs especially are a dying breed, and very few are being made. Luckily, many garage sales will still have these up for grabs if you're quick, and your back is strong.

For gaming, garage sales can also help, but the collector's nature of the systems means the cost can be a problem. Instead, consider going the emulator route to find what you need. Playing these on an LCD TV might not produce the exact same experience, but with graphical modifications like scanline filters, they can appear more accurate to how they used to be.

"scanlines!" (CC BY 2.0) by blakespot

As the last big age before the internet, the '80s are fortunate to hold an undying place in the zeitgeist of world media. Luckily, while the media produced during this time is starting to die out, with the above recommendations, we can still ensure the permanence of what remains.

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