Fear Tech: ’80s Gadgets To Preserve and Protect

Bulletproof vests and voice changers round out this compendium of ’80s hi-tech devices, which ran as a sidebar to “Darkness Descends on the City of Angels,” a feature about crime in our September 1988 issue.

Published September 1988

Besides common sense, there are a few gadgets on the market that will help you preserve and protect—and they’re not bad conversation pieces either.

The Derringer
From Vehicle Safety Electronics of Van Nuys, this super car alarm will do everything from shut your sunroof to summon you discreetly from a restaurant. It also has horns so loud they’ll drive thieves out of your car.

Bulletproof Vests
You can buy a bulletproof vest off the rack or have one custom made. The Kevlar material can be formed into anything—T-shirts, jackets, even a vest to match your favorite suit—for between $250 and $1,200.

Electric Billy Club
It looks like a small, collapsible umbrella, but push the button and it extends three feet, becoming a 40,000-volt stun gun that should shock the hell out of just about anyone.

Alarm/Message Center
You can program it to say anything from, “Hi honey, I’m home,” to “You have entered a restricted zone. Your life is in danger.” Infrared sensors react to body heat and activate the machine. There’s nothing like a voice from a back room to scare off the burglar.

Voice Changer
For women at home alone. It attaches to the phone and lowers anyone’s voice by a couple of octaves.

Man’s Best Friend
Activated by sound, the device gives out a synthesized dog bark. Adjustable so that your “dog” can react to people approaching the house as well.