The 1980s also known as the “greed decade” made quite a mark in history. It was the decade of big hair, two-pound mobile phones, neon colours, shoulder pads, the Cold War, Rubik’s cubes, Air Jordans, Michael Jackson, Pac Man… The list is endless!
It goes on with the lifestyle cults from poppers to punkers, from new wave to the soundtracks of German Neue Deutsche Welle music, Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince. Feeling nostalgic already? Take a deep breath, relax, and let these facts about the 1980s take you down memory lane…
On the evening of the 8
th of December 1980, John Lennon was shot outside his New York apartment.
The USA along with 65 other countries boycotted the 1980 Olympic Summer Games in Moscow to protest the late 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Ted Turner launched his 24-hour Cable News Network on the 1
st of June 1980, a move that would forever change news coverage, some might argue not always for the better.
President Ronald Reagan
Just two months into his presidency, President Reagan was the target of an assassination attempt by John Hinckley Jr. on the 30
th of March 1981. On the 5
th of June 1981, The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention released the first official report on what would come to be known as the AIDS epidemic. MTV, Music Television launched on the 1
st of August, 1981 with the now iconic and ironic “Video killed the radio star” by The Buggles.
Newton-John’s hit song, “Physical”, the 1981 tune was the year’s most popular song. While Newton-John
may have had the 1980s’ most popular song, her popularity was still trumped by Michael Jackson, the most popular artist of the entire decade. The cinematic masterpiece Top Gun in addition to earning $176,786,701 in theatres also won an Academy Award for its theme song,
Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away.”
the DeLorean DMC-12
Made famous by Back to the Future, the DeLorean DMC-12 was an actual
car produced in 1981 under the designs of former GM executive John DeLorean. With the launch of IBM’s first PC in
August 1981, a tech revolution that would change the world began.
Time Magazine knew what was going on, going off-piste to put the computer on its cover as “Machine of the Year” in 1982.
The year 1982 saw the first artificial
heart transplant surgery when 61-year-old Barney Clark received a permanent artificial heart. In 1982 the original consumer CD player, the Sony CDP-101, hit the market.
Smiley emoticons were first used by computer scientist Scott Fahlman in 1982.
While royal and celebrity weddings are still big ratings hit to this day, they pale in comparison to
Diana and Charles’ wedding in 1981 when over a billion people around the globe tuned in.
Canada did not have official independence from the United Kingdom until 1982 when the Canada Act was authorized by Elizabeth II.
Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands in 1982 but was subsequently defeated by the United Kingdom.
In 1982, Michael Jackson released his album, Thriller.
Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, released in 1983, the one that Michael Douglas donned as Gordon Gekko in 1987’s
Wall Street. Crack cocaine was first synthesized and produced in
the Bahamas in 1983 and didn’t take too long to spread north into the US.
The first African-American to win the Miss America pageant was Vanessa Williams in 1983.
Microsoft releases “Word”, their word processing program in 1983.
The same year the Swiss company “Swatch” introduced their watches and they became a fashion craze.
The 1984 Olympics were held in
Los Angeles, and take a wild guess at who boycotted these games. You’ve got it right, the Soviet Union. The US and
the Vatican didn’t have diplomatic relations for over 100 years. It took until 1984 for them to reinstate their diplomatic ties. One of the largest chemical disasters in history occurred in Bhopal,
India in 1984, as toxic gases leaked from the Union Carbide plant resulting in around 15,000 deaths.
India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 by her bodyguards. 1984 also saw a devastating famine ravage through the country of
Ethiopia, resulting in over 1 million lives lost. A pivotal moment for genetic science occurred in 1984 when British genetic scientist Alec Jeffreys invented the genetic fingerprint, a key in modern gene analysis.
In 1985 the wreck of the famous
Titanic was discovered. The first version of Microsoft Windows was released in 1985.
In 1986, the Soviet Union had the
Chernobyl disaster, which spread radioactive material across Europe.
Space Shuttle Disaster, 1986
Wonder soon turned to
horror on the 28 th of January 1986 when NASA’s Challenger Mission was tragically snuffed out when the shuttle combusted just 73 seconds after take-off, killing all seven astronauts on board. The first widely-used disposable camera hit the market in 1986.
Comet was first observed via spacecraft in 1986.
Australia and New Zealand both gained their full independence in 1986. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”! This was the iconic entreaty to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev delivered by Reagan in
Berlin in 1987. In 1987 Margaret Thatcher was elected as the British Prime Minister for the third time.
The first genetically modified crops were a product of the 1980s when
China grew modified tobacco plants in 1988. In 1988, the first transatlantic optical cable was laid under the
Atlantic Ocean, connecting France, England, and the United States. The
Earth is still dealing with the after-effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on Alaska’s Bligh Reef in 1989, one of the worst ecological disasters in human history. The
fall of the Berlin Wall happened on the 9 th of November 1989. What do you think, the end of a decade or the end of an era? Do you have any fun, strange or interesting facts about the 1980s that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!