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What It Cost in 1980

May 6, 2015

Remember when you could take the whole family to the movies for $20? Here are some other things that were cheaper in 1980.

  • Commodore VIC-20 computerA Commodore VIC-20 computer cost $299.95. It boasted a maximum of 5 KB of memory and didn’t include a monitor.
  • Ticket for a Los Angeles Dodgers game featuring Mexican rookie pitching sensation (and future MVP) Fernando Valenzuela: $4.50.
  • Cost of one of the year’s most popular novels, Stephen King’s Firestarter: $13.95.
  • The price of a pack of cigarettes (people still smoked in 1980): about $1.00.
  • A ticket to see The Empire Strikes Back cost $2.75.
  • A gallon of leaded gasoline, which is now banned but was still available then, cost about $1.20.
  • In 1980 a new house cost, on average, just under $69,000. Barbie’s Dream House cost around $100.
  • This year, McDonald’s expanded its menu with the first fast food chicken sandwich, the McChicken (deep fried boneless patty on a bun). Price: 80 cents.
  • A 1980 Chrysler Cordoba, memorably advertised by Ricardo Montalban as being upholstered in “rich Corinthian leather,” cost $6,745.
  • The Sears Catalog offered a UHF- and VHFenabled 19-inch “big-screen” color TV with a hot feature—a wood-paneled remote control with four buttons—for just $485.
  • Irene Cara’s title song from the movie Fame won an Oscar for Best Original Song. The soundtrack LP cost about $6.
  • New in the candy aisle: Big League Chew, shredded bubble gum invented by a former minor league pitcher as a chewing-tobacco substitute. A package cost 25 cents.
  • A state-of-the-art VHS machine—on which you could watch pre-recorded movies at home!— cost $699. Renting one of the few dozen titles Hollywood had released cost about $8 at one of the many new “video stores” around the country, some of which required membership fees or deposits of up to $50.

This story was originally published in Uncle John’s Weird, Weird World!

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