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Popular 80’s Brands That Are Gone (But Not Forgotten)

Are you wondering what happened to your favorite brands from the ’80s?

From television to fashion, past decades always seem to come back in style, and the ’80s have been especially hot lately. As ’80s kids are fully entered adulthood and even having kids of their own, it’s the perfect time for a nostalgic look back.

Many brands are cashing in on the trend by making retro, ’80s-inspired content. However, very few of those brands were actually around in the ’80s. What happened to the ones that started it all?

In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the best brands from the ’80s that may be gone, but live on in our memories. Keep reading to find out where these former cultural icons went.

1. Coleco

Never head of Coleco Industries? You’ve surely heard about their products, though. This was the brand behind one of the weirder toys from the decade: Cabbage Patch Kids. Coleco also made a number of the popular video game consoles of the ’80s.

However, Coleco Industries didn’t even make it to the end of the decade, in spite of these seeming successes. In 1988 the company was bankrupt, and by 1989 it had to sell its assets and product lines.

The flagship console from the company, Colecovision, was launched in 1982 and associated with such popular pastimes as Donkey Kong and Star Wars games. Today, some people hungry for nostalgia still buy the old consoles on eBay for up to $200.

2. Bally Fitness

In 1983, the Bally Manufacturing company bought a manufacturer of exercise equipment. By 1987, Bally had all but taken over: it was the biggest operator/owner of fitness centers in the world.

It wasn’t until 1995 that Bally named all of its centers “Bally Total Fitness,” but by then people were already well familiar with the brand. However, the heyday of Bally didn’t last. In 2011, the brand started to sell its fitness clubs, and the last one closed its doors in late 2016.

Although you may no longer see the Bally Fitness name in lights across America, you could argue that this company revolutionized the way we work out by pioneered the modern concept of the gym.

3. Prozac

That’s right, one of the most famous antidepressants is also a quintessential ’80s brand.

Prozac first started changing people’s lives when it hit the market in 1986. This was a revolutionary treatment for many people, and soon became part of many pop culture references.

Today, many people still use antidepressants, but Prozac is no longer the first choice. With cheaper generic versions of the brand-name drug, plus many different alternatives, Prozac stopped dominated the antidepressant market a long time ago.

4. Kodak

Kodak was actually founded in 1888, but the film company hit its peak popularity in the ’80s and early ’90s. However, with the advent of digital cameras and smartphones, a film company couldn’t possibly stay on top.

In 2012, the company filed for bankruptcy and continued with small-scale operations that have lasted to this day. This is a far cry from 1996, when the company was the fifth most valuable business worldwide.

5. Drexel Burnham Lambert

Although this wasn’t exactly a huge name in the pop culture world, Drexel Burnham Lambert was an investment banking firm that was integral to the financial world of the 1980s.

One thing the ’80s is known for is the cutthroat Wall Street culture of bankers and investors, and Drexel Burnham Lambert was one of the pioneers of this culture. The brand operated largely in junk bonds, which were high-risk but high-reward.

However, these risky bonds were the company’s downfall: in 1990, they were forced to file for bankruptcy because they’d been illegally involved with junk bonds.

6. Jordache

What happened to everyone’s favorite jeans of the ’80s?

Jordache rose to fame for its designer jeans throughout the late ’70s and the ’80s. People were still rocking Jordaches well into the ’90s. However, by the late ’90s, the brand’s popularity was over and their products could only be found heavily discounted at retailers like WalMart.

You won’t believe what your beloved jeans company has been doing since then. Today, the brand is involved in real estate ventures in the U.S. and even has some business ventures in Israel.

However, they haven’t stepped away from jeans entirely: they actually make private denim for still-popular brands like Levi’s and the Gap.

7. Compaq

If you lived through the ’80s, your first computer may very well have been a Compaq. Founded in 1982, this company made some of the earliest PC compatible computers for IBM.

The tech company didn’t exactly disappear: instead, it was bought by Hewlett-Packard in 2002 at a price of $24.2 billion.

8. Magnavox

In the 1980s, this portable video camera suddenly made it possible for people to record their lives like never before. Amateur filmmakers, proud parents, and more jumped on the chance to document their favorite moments.

Magnavox was one of the most popular VHS recorders, but JVC and RCA also offered alternatives.

All three of these companies actually still exist, but needless to say, their revenue doesn’t come from sales of VHS recorders. In the ’80s, Magnavox made everything from video cameras to the earliest video game console toy.

The brand was already owned by the company Philips, and was never exactly dismantled. But in the ’90s, the Magnavox name no longer held weight for consumers, so Philips stopped using it.

9. Pan Am

Pan American World Airways offered a popular way to globetrot in the ’70s and ’80s. Pan Am was actually the biggest international airline in the U.S. for decades: from its start in 1927 until 1991, when the company was bankrupt.

Branding issues and PR problems brought the company down, and rising oil prices didn’t help either. The company was revived by investors in 1996, but never achieved full success again.

What Can You Do With ’80s Brands?

Although most of these brands no longer exist in the same way they once did, the power of the ’80s brand is back thanks to today’s wave of cultural nostalgia.

For many, selling vintage ’80s products has become a great way to make money. If you have retro gear around the house, or find something special at a thrift store, you can often resell it on eBay for more than it originally cost.

Hoping to turn your passion for the ’80s into a full-blown side hustle? Check out our tips for successful side hustles here.

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