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Boom Boxes/Ghetto Blasters

By Patrick Mondout

First Sony set us all free to listen to our own music in private with a set of headphones and the Walkman in 1979. Then a whole host of consumer electronics companies gave us the freedom to blast the entire neighborhood with the latest Run DMC or Metallica cassette using what came to be called Boom Boxes (a.k.a. "ghetto blasters").

Master Blaster

If you were an urban teenager in the Awesome80s and you were not a preppy, a jock, an electric guitar player, or an ace hacky-sack player, your goal in life was to have the loudest, biggest, and coolest looking (in that order) boom box in your school/neighborhood. This made you the "Master Blaster." Failing that, you'd beat the crap out of the punk who dissed you by bringing his badass box into your territory. (If you were the punk who regularly got beat up, take heart - the guy who beat you up is probably listening to his weak box right now on death row.)

Turn That G()D@#!$% Thing Down!

Surely the noisiest (and to some, the most annoying) fad of all-time, these portable stereos on steroids used as many as ten "D" cell batteries in a single afternoon! And by the mid-Awesome80s, the higher-end models not only had a dual cassette, but a CD player as well. If you wanted to be both "down with your homies in da 'hood" and considered a "hoodlum" by the elders in your environment, this box was all you needed. That and a backpack for all those replacement batteries!

Bass Boost!

If you wanted to seriously irritate the Geritol crowd, you pressed the magical button labeled "Bass Boost." That allowed your most distant and hard-of-hearing WW2 vet to at least hear the beat of the "music" you were playing - booming throughout his entire body! Not that any of those boom boxes needed any more bass. But then that was never really the point as a generation of rebellious youth discovered. No wonder the generation that rebelled by fighting for civil rights in the South and by protesting the war in Vietnam just shook their heads in disgust at our rebellious ways. I can hardly wait to see (hear?) what the youth of the year 2020 have in store for us!

Where Are They Now?

Boom boxes are selling briskly and some models even play MP3 files. It looks like this one-time fad, like rock 'n roll itself, is here to stay. You can buy the retro/original models on eBay. Check our links below and to the right.



Share Your Memories!

Do you have any interesting or amusing stories to tell about Boom Boxes/Ghetto Blasters? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"Ah......BOOM BOXES! I remember my first one! I got it when I was 10.In fact,it was one of those panasonic models with the front-loading turntables(!), AND a dual cassette deck.But instead of blasting the Beastie Boys,I used to provoke the ire of the cooler kids on my block by blasting The Beatles or the Beach Boys,considered uncool among most teens in the Awesome80s.They would always get the better of me by sneaking Dio or The Crue into one of my tape deck.Not that I didn't dig the Metal of the day.I just dug retro more.And since I have always been different,I still blast Beatles on my boombox!"


"I once had a "BOOM BOX" that I loved so much. One day I was standing on my mothers porch pumping them funky sounds from L.L.Cool J. and it started to rain. Oh! but that couldnt stop my funky mix flow. I turned the "BOOM BOX" up to '10' because that was as high as it could go. Suddenly, lighten struck a tree next to the house and a part of the tree landed in front of me.I reach down to pick it up and notice a golden rope chain. It was just as if the "BOOM BOX" gods were was watching me."


"I still have mine. A gold Technisonic/Conion boombox also sported by LL Cool J on one of his early posters. The box, until recently when it fell of my counter, continued to give me great sound and performance and used, yes, 10 D batteries. I am currently seeking the one internal part that got busted in the fall to restore it to full working order. Wish me luck. I hear some company named Epsilon took over the portable radio arm of Japan's Conion.[Editor's note: Good luck!]"

--Ray Adams

"Ah. I remember the first day I got my boom box. I was the only kid in school (3rd grade) whose dad had all the Metallica albums, and I could record them! Now that I'm 16, a simple little boom box isn't enough. Now I'm pushin' 155 DB in my car (SUV) stereo, and annoying everyone within a 2 mile radius. Ahh the good life…"


"My boom box was my prized pocession. It was indestructable. It fell off my best friend car and still could jam. I miss my box as much as I miss the Awesome80s!"


"I remember playing my Ghetto Blater at work in the early Awesome80s. It wasn't too long after that they outlawed my Ghetto! People said it was too loud.... It was only a Sanyo!"


"I have an awesome collection of boomboxes. Starting with the models Sharp GF767,Lasonic TRC-935,Conion C-126F,Sony TFM-9450W Panasonic SGJ-800.I just wanted to share with you a little bit of history from the Awesome80s. Now it's so hard to find ghetto blasters in mint condition, but I still have a couple of them.Iam trying to get my hands on the big Conion C-100F which is the one with the burglar alarm."




LL Cool J kicked the volume way past ten!

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