The boombox was such a status symbol in the 1980s, particularly a favorite with the young urbanites. It became closely linked to American hip hop culture and was instrumental in the rise of hip hop music.
However, the wide use of boomboxes in urban communities led to the boombox being coined a “ghetto blaster”, a pejorative nickname which was soon used as part of a backlash against the boombox and hip hop culture. Cities petitioned for the banning of boomboxes from public places, and they became less acceptable on city streets as time progressed.
A boombox, in its most basic form, is composed of two or more loudspeakers, an amplifier, a radio tuner, and a cassette or CD player component, all housed in a single plastic or metal case with a handle for portability.
As boomboxes grew in popularity, they also became more complex in design and functionality. By the late 1980s, many boomboxes included separate high and low frequency speakers and a second tape deck to allow the boombox to record off of both the radio and other pre-recorded cassettes. Equalizers, balance adjusters, Dolby noise reduction, and LED sound gauges were other later additions.
In the mid-1980s, the boombox began to become a status symbol; the popularity among young urbanites caused increasing demand for extravagant boxes. The introduction of the compact disc (CD) in the early 1990s led to the introduction of the CD player in standard boombox design. As the 1990s continued, boombox manufacturers began designing smaller, more compact boomboxes, which were often made out of plastic instead of metal as their counterparts from the previous decade had been.
Do you remember listening to your favorite playlist on a bombox? Or dancing on the streets to your hiphop music? Share with us your favorite moments with your boombox in the comments section below!