1980s

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STS-1End of the Cold WarIran–Iraq WarFall of the Berlin WallLive AidIBM Personal ComputerChernobyl disaster1980s
From left, clockwise: The first Space Shuttle, Columbia , lifts off in 1981; American president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev eases tensions between the two superpowers, leading to the end of the Cold War; The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is considered to be one of the most momentous events of the 1980s; In 1981, the IBM Personal Computer is released; In 1985, the Live Aid concert is held in order to fund relief efforts for the famine in Ethiopia during the time Mengistu Haile Mariam ruled the country; Ukraine and much of the world is filled with radioactive debris from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster; The Iran–Iraq War leads to over one million dead and $1 trillion spent.
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The 1980s (pronounced "nineteen-eighties", commonly shortened as the "'80s", pronounced "eighties") was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1980, and ended on December 31, 1989.

A decade is a period of 10 years. The word is derived from the Ancient Greek: δεκάς, translit. dekas), which means a group of ten. Other words for spans of years also come from Latin: biennium, triennium, quadrennium, lustrum, century, millennium.

The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582. The calendar spaces leap years to make the average year 365.2425 days long, approximating the 365.2422-day tropical year that is determined by the Earth's revolution around the Sun. The rule for leap years is:

Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is.

Contents

Overview

The decade saw great socioeconomic change due to advances in technology and a worldwide move away from planned economies and towards laissez-faire capitalism.

As economic deconstruction increased in the developed world, multiple multinational corporations associated with the manufacturing industry relocated into Thailand, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, and China. Japan and West Germany saw large economic growth during this decade. The AIDS epidemic became recognized in the 1980s and has since killed an estimated 39 million people (as of 2013). [1] Global warming became well known to the scientific and political community in the 1980s.

Thailand Constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia

Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam, is a country at the centre of the Southeast Asian Indochinese peninsula composed of 76 provinces. At 513,120 km2 (198,120 sq mi) and over 68 million people, Thailand is the world's 50th largest country by total area and the 21st-most-populous country. The capital and largest city is Bangkok, a special administrative area. Thailand is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest. Although nominally a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, the most recent coup in 2014 established a de facto military dictatorship.

Mexico Country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

South Korea Republic in East Asia

South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and lying to the east of the Asian mainland. The name Korea is derived from Goguryeo which was one of the great powers in East Asia during its time, ruling most of the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria, parts of the Russian Far East and Inner Mongolia, under Gwanggaeto the Great. South Korea lies in the north temperate zone and has a predominantly mountainous terrain. It comprises an estimated 51.4 million residents distributed over 100,363 km2 (38,750 sq mi). Its capital and largest city is Seoul, with a population of around 10 million.

The United Kingdom and the United States moved closer to supply-side economic policies beginning a trend towards global instability of international trade that would pick up more steam in the following decade as the fall of the USSR made right wing economic policy more powerful.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Supply-side economics Macroeconomic theory

Supply-side economics is a macroeconomic theory arguing that economic growth can be most effectively created by lowering taxes and decreasing regulation, by which it is directly opposed to demand-side economics. According to supply-side economics, consumers will then benefit from a greater supply of goods and services at lower prices and employment will increase.

The final decade of the Cold War opened with the US-Soviet confrontation continuing largely without any interruption. Superpower tensions escalated rapidly as President Reagan scrapped the policy of détente and adopted a new, much more aggressive stance on the Soviet Union. The world came perilously close to nuclear war for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis 20 years earlier, but the second half of the decade saw a dramatic easing of superpower tensions and ultimately the total collapse of Soviet communism.

Developing countries across the world faced economic and social difficulties as they suffered from multiple debt crises in the 1980s, requiring many of these countries to apply for financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Ethiopia witnessed widespread famine in the mid-1980s during the corrupt rule of Mengistu Haile Mariam, resulting in the country having to depend on foreign aid to provide food to its population and worldwide efforts to address and raise money to help Ethiopians, such as the Live Aid concert in 1985.

International Monetary Fund International organisation

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., consisting of "189 countries working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world." Formed in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference primarily by the ideas of Harry Dexter White and John Maynard Keynes, it came into formal existence in 1945 with 29 member countries and the goal of reconstructing the international payment system. It now plays a central role in the management of balance of payments difficulties and international financial crises. Countries contribute funds to a pool through a quota system from which countries experiencing balance of payments problems can borrow money. As of 2016, the fund had SDR477 billion.

The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to countries of the world for capital projects. It comprises two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), and the International Development Association (IDA). The World Bank is a component of the World Bank Group.

Ethiopia country in East Africa

Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country in the northeastern part of Africa, popularly known as the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the north, Djibouti to the northeast, and Somalia to the east, Sudan to the northwest, South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south. With over 102 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world and the second-most populous nation on the African continent that covers a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometres (420,000 sq mi). Its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa, which lies a few miles west of the East African Rift that splits the country into the Nubian Plate and the Somali Plate.

The world map of military alliances in 1980:          NATO & Western allies,              Warsaw Pact & other Soviet allies,      Non-aligned countries,      China and Albania (communist countries, but not aligned with USSR), xxx Armed resistance Cold War Map 1980.svg
The world map of military alliances in 1980:          NATO & Western allies,              Warsaw Pact & other Soviet allies,      Non-aligned countries,      China and Albania (communist countries, but not aligned with USSR), ××× Armed resistance

Major civil discontent and violence occurred in the Middle East, including the Iran–Iraq War, the Soviet–Afghan War, the 1982 Lebanon War, the Nagorno-Karabakh War, the Bombing of Libya in 1986, and the First Intifada in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Islamism became a powerful political force in the 1980s and many terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda started.

Iran–Iraq War 1980–1988 war between Iran and Iraq

The Iran–Iraq War was an armed conflict between Iran and Iraq, beginning on 22 September 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran, and ending on 20 August 1988, when Iran accepted the UN-brokered ceasefire. Iraq wanted to replace Iran as the dominant Persian Gulf state, and was worried that the 1979 Iranian Revolution would lead Iraq's Shi'ite majority to rebel against the Ba'athist government. The war also followed a long history of border disputes, and Iraq planned to annex the oil-rich Khuzestan Province and the east bank of the Arvand Rud.

Soviet–Afghan War War between the Soviet Union and Afghan insurgents, 1979-89

.

1982 Lebanon War 1982 war between Israel and forces in Lebanon

The 1982 Lebanon War, dubbed Operation Peace for Galilee by the Israeli government, later known in Israel as the Lebanon War or the First Lebanon War, and known in Lebanon as "the invasion", began on 6 June 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) invaded southern Lebanon, after repeated attacks and counter-attacks between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) operating in southern Lebanon and the IDF that had caused civilian casualties on both sides of the border. The military operation was launched after gunmen from Abu Nidal's organization attempted to assassinate Shlomo Argov, Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin blamed Abu Nidal's enemy, the PLO, for the incident, and treated the incident as a casus belli for the invasion.

By 1986, nationalism was making a comeback in the Eastern Bloc and desire for democracy in communist-led socialist states combined with economic recession resulted in Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika, which reduced Communist Party power, legalized dissent and sanctioned limited forms of capitalism such as joint ventures with Western firms. After newly heated tension for most of the decade, by 1988 relations between the West and East had improved significantly [2] and the Soviet Union was increasingly unwilling to defend its governments in satellite states.

Mikhail Gorbachev 20th-century General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a Russian and formerly Soviet politician. The eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, he was General Secretary of its governing Communist Party from 1985 until 1991. He was the country's head of state from 1988 until 1991, serving as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1988 to 1989, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990, and President of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991. Ideologically, he initially adhered to Marxism-Leninism although by the early 1990s had moved toward social democracy.

In the Russian language the word Glasnost has several general and specific meanings. It has been used in Russian to mean "openness and transparency" since at least the end of the eighteenth century.

Perestroika political movement for reformation

Perestroika was a political movement for reformation within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the 1980s and 1990s and is widely associated with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his glasnost policy reform. The literal meaning of perestroika is "restructuring", referring to the restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system.

1989 brought the overthrow and attempted overthrow of a number of governments led by communist parties, such as in Hungary, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 in China, the Czechoslovak "Velvet Revolution", Erich Honecker's East German regime, Poland's Soviet-backed government, and the violent overthrow of the Nicolae Ceauşescu regime in Romania. Destruction of the 155-km Berlin Wall, at the end of the decade, signalled a seismic geopolitical shift. The Cold War ended in the early 1990s with the successful Reunification of Germany and the USSR's demise after the August Coup of 1991.

The 1980s saw great advances in genetic and digital technology. After years of animal experimentation since 1985 the first genetic modification of 10 adult human beings took place in May 1989, a gene tagging experiment [3] which led to the first true gene therapy implementation in September 1990. The first "designer babies", a pair of female twins were created in a laboratory in late 1989 and born in July 1990 after being sex-selected via the controversial assisted reproductive technology procedure preimplantation genetic diagnosis. [4] Gestational surrogacy was first performed in 1985 with the first birth in 1986, making it possible for a woman to become a biological mother without experiencing pregnancy for the first time in history. [5]

The 1980s was also an era of tremendous population growth around the world, surpassing even the 1970s and 1990s, thus arguably being the largest in human history. Population growth was particularly rapid in a number of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian countries during this decade, with rates of natural increase close to or exceeding 4% annually.

The 1980s saw the advent of the ongoing practice of sex-selective abortion in China and India as ultrasound technology permitted parents to selectively abort baby girls. [6]

The global Internet took shape in academia by the second half of the 1980s as well as many other computer networks of both academic and commercial use such as USENET, Fidonet and the Bulletin Board System. By 1989 the Internet and the networks linked to it were a global system with extensive transoceanic satellite links and nodes in most rich countries. [7] Based on earlier work from 1980 onwards Tim Berners Lee formalized the concept of the World Wide Web by 1989 and performed its earliest demonstrations in December 1990 and 1991. Television viewing became commonplace in the Third World, with the number of TV sets in China and India increasing by 15 and 10 times respectively. [8]

Politics and wars

Terrorist attacks

1983 Beirut barracks bombing Beirutbarr.jpg
1983 Beirut barracks bombing

The most notable terrorist attacks of the decade include:

Wars

The most prominent armed conflicts of the decade include:

International wars

Invasion of Grenada, October 1983 US Army Rangers parachute into Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury.jpg
Invasion of Grenada, October 1983

The most notable wars of the decade include:

Civil wars and guerrilla wars

The most notable internal conflicts of the decade include:

Coups

The most prominent coups d'état of the decade include:

Nuclear threats

The Israeli Air Force F-16A Netz '243' that was flown by Colonel Ilan Ramon during Operation Opera IAF F-16A Netz 243 CIAF 2004.jpg
The Israeli Air Force F-16A Netz '243' that was flown by Colonel Ilan Ramon during Operation Opera

Decolonization and independence

Prominent political events

Americas

U.S. President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev signing the INF Treaty, 1987 Reagan and Gorbachev signing.jpg
U.S. President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev signing the INF Treaty, 1987
  • Ronald Reagan was elected U.S. President in 1980. In international affairs, Reagan pursued a hardline policy towards preventing the spread of communism, initiating a considerable buildup of U.S. military power to challenge the Soviet Union. He further directly challenged the Iron Curtain by demanding that the Soviet Union dismantle the Berlin Wall.
  • The Reagan Administration accelerated the War on Drugs, publicized through anti-drug campaigns including the Just Say No campaign of First Lady Nancy Reagan. Drugs gained attention in the US as a serious problem in the '80s. Cocaine was relatively popular among celebrities and affluent youth, while crack, a cheaper offshoot of the drug, was linked to high crime rates in inner cities during the American crack epidemic. [ citation needed ]
  • The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (1968) (PATCO) declared a strike on August 3, 1981, seeking better working conditions, better pay, and a 32-hour workweek. The strike caused considerable disruption of the U.S. air transportation system. Resolution came when Ronald Reagan fired over 11,000 striking air traffic controllers who had ignored the order, banning them from federal service for life. After seeking appeals, many of the controllers were re-hired while the FAA attempted to replace much of their air traffic control staffing. The remainder continued to be banned until President Clinton lifted the final aspects in 1993.
  • Political unrest in the province of Quebec, which, due to the many differences between the dominant francophone population and the anglophone minority, and also to francophone rights in the predominantly English-speaking Canada, came to a head in 1980 when the provincial government called a public referendum on partial separation from the rest of Canada. The referendum ended with the "no" side winning majority (59.56% no, 40.44% yes).
  • Military dictatorships give way to democracy in Argentina (1983), Uruguay (1984–85), Brazil (1985–1988) and Chile (1988–89).

Europe

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the beginning of German reunification BerlinWall-BrandenburgGate.jpg
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the beginning of German reunification
  • The European Community's enlargement continued with the accession of Greece in 1981 and Spain and Portugal in 1986.
  • In 1983, Bettino Craxi became the first socialist to hold the office of Prime Minister of Italy; he remained in power until 1987, becoming one of the longest-serving Prime Minister in the history of Italian Republic. At the end of his presidency the Mani pulite corruption scandal broke up, causing the collapse of the political system.
  • Significant political reforms occurred in a number of communist countries in eastern Europe as the populations of these countries grew increasingly hostile and politically active in opposing communist governments. These reforms included attempts to increase individual liberties and market liberalization, and promises of democratic renewal. The collapse of communism in eastern Europe was generally peaceful, the exception being Romania, whose leader Nicolae Ceaușescu tried to keep the people isolated from the events happening outside the country. While making a speech in Bucharest in December 1989, he was booed and shouted down by the crowd, and then tried to flee the city with his wife Elena. Two days later, they were captured, charged with genocide, and shot on Christmas.
  • In Yugoslavia, following the death of communist leader Josip Broz Tito in May 1980, the trend of political reform of the communist system occurred along with a trend towards ethnic nationalism and inter-ethnic hostility, especially in Serbia, beginning with the 1986 Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts followed by the agenda of Serbian communist leader Slobodan Milošević who aggressively pushed for increased political influence of Serbs in the late 1980s, condemning non-Serb Yugoslav politicians who challenged his agenda as being enemies of Serbs.
  • There was continuing civil strife in Northern Ireland, including the adoption of hunger strikes by Irish Republican Army prisoners seeking the reintroduction of political status.
  • Mikhail Gorbachev became leader of the Soviet Union in 1985, and initiated major reforms to the Soviet Union's government through increasing the rights of expressing political dissent and opening elections to opposition candidates (while maintaining legal dominance of the Communist Party). Gorbachev pursued negotiation with the United States to decrease tensions and eventually end the Cold War.
  • At the end of the decade, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 would be followed in 1990 by the German reunification. During 1989, most of the communist governments in Eastern Europe collapsed.
  • The United Kingdom was governed by the Conservative Party under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the first female leader of a Western country. Under her Premiership, the party introduced widespread economic reforms including the privatisation of industries and the de-regulation of stock markets echoing similar reforms of U.S. President Ronald Reagan. She was also a staunch opponent of communism earning her the nickname The Iron Lady.
  • Poor industrial relations marked the beginning of the decade; the UK miners' strike (1984–85) was a major industrial action affecting the UK coal industry. The strike by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was led by Arthur Scargill, although some NUM members considered it to be unconstitutional and did not observe it. The BBC has referred to the strike as "the most bitter industrial dispute in British history." [9] At its height, the strike involved 142,000 mineworkers, making it the biggest since the 1926 General Strike. [10]
  • In November 1982, Leonid Brezhnev, who had led the Soviet Union since 1964, died. He was followed in quick succession by Yuri Andropov, the former KGB chief, and Konstantin Chernenko, both of whom were in poor health during their short tenures in office.

Asia

  • South Korean president Chun Doo Hwan came to power at the end of 1979 and ruled as a dictator until his presidential term expired in 1987. He was responsible for the Kwangju Massacre in May 1980 when police and soldiers battled armed protesters. Relations with North Korea showed little sign of improvement during the 1980s. In 1983, when Chun was in Burma, a bomb apparently planted by North Korean agents killed a number of South Korean government officials. After leaving office, he was succeeded by Roh Tae Woo, the first democratic ruler of the country, which saw its international prestige greatly rise with hosting the Olympics in 1988. Roh pursued a policy of normalizing relations with China and the Soviet Union, but had to face militant left-wing student groups who demanded reunification with North Korea and the withdrawal of US troops.
  • In the Philippines, after almost 20 years of dictatorship, Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos left the presidency and was replaced by Corazon Aquino through the "People Power Revolution" from February 22 to 25, 1986. This has been considered by some a peaceful revolution despite the fact that the Armed Forces of the Philippines issued an order to disperse the crowds on EDSA (the main thoroughfare in Metro Manila).

Notable world leaders

Note: Names of world leaders shown below in bold remained in power continuously throughout the decade.

Disasters

Natural disasters

1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens MSH80 st helens eruption plume 07-22-80.jpg
1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens

Non-natural disasters

The space shuttle Challenger disintegrates on January 28, 1986 Challenger explosion.jpg
The space shuttle Challenger disintegrates on January 28, 1986

Assassinations and attempts

Prominent assassinations, targeted killings, and assassination attempts include:

Technology

Medicine and biology

The 1980s had many fundamental advances in medicine and biology. The first surrogate pregnancy of an unrelated child took place on April 13, 1986, in Michigan. [5] The first genetically modified crops, tobacco (Nicotiana) plants were grown in China in 1988. [11]

Gene therapy techniques became established by the end of the 1980s, allowing gene tagging and gene therapy to become a possibility, both of which were first performed in human beings in May 1989 and September 1990 respectively.

Electronics and computers

Arcade and video games had been growing in popularity since the late 1970s, and by 1982 were a major industry. But a variety of factors, including a glut of low-quality games and the rise of home computers, caused a tremendous crash in late 1983. For the next three years, the video game market practically ceased to exist in the US. But in the second half of the decade, it would be revived by Nintendo, whose Famicom console and mascot Mario had been enjoying considerable success in Japan since 1983. Renamed the Nintendo Entertainment System, it would claim 90% of the American video game market by 1989. The 1980s are considered to be the decade when video games achieved massive popularity. In 1980, Pac-Man was introduced to the arcades, and became one of the most popular video games of all time. Also in 1980, Game & Watch was created; it was not one of the most well known game systems, but it facilitated mini-games and was concurrent with the NES. Donkey Kong , released in 1981, was a smash arcade hit and market breakthrough for Nintendo. Super Mario Bros. , Super Mario Bros. 2 , Super Mario Bros. 3 , The Legend of Zelda , and the Mega Man series would become major hits for the console.

The personal computer experienced explosive growth in the 1980s, transitioning from a hobbyist's toy to a full-fledged consumer product. The IBM PC, launched in 1981, became the dominant computer for professional users. Commodore created the most popular home computers of both 8-bit and 16-bit generations. MSX standard was the dominant computer platform in Japan and in most parts of Asia. Apple superseded its Apple II and Lisa models by introducing the first Macintosh computer in 1984. It was the first commercially successful personal computer to use a graphical user interface (GUI) and mouse, [12] which started to become general features in computers after the middle of the decade.

Walkman and boomboxes, invented during the late 1970s, became very popular as they were introduced to various countries in the early 1980s, and had a profound impact on the Music industry and youth culture. Consumer VCRs and video rental stores became commonplace as VHS won out over the competing Betamax standard. In addition, in the early 1980s various companies began selling compact, modestly priced synthesizers to the public. This, along with the development of Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), made it easier to integrate and synchronize synthesizers and other electronic instruments, like drum machines, for use in musical composition.

High definition television (HDTV) of both the analog and digital variety were first developed in the 1980s though their use did not become widespread until the mid-2000s.

In 1981, Hayes Microcomputer Products started selling the Smartmodem. The Smartmodem paved the way for the modern modems that exists today, mainly because it was the first modem to transform what had previously required a two-stage process into a process involving only one stage. The Smartmodem contributed to the rise in popularity of BBS systems in the 80s and early 90s, which were the main way to connect to remote computers and perform various social and entertainment activities before the Internet and the World Wide Web finally became popular in the mid-90s.

Information technology

Space exploration

The Space Shuttle Columbia seconds after engine ignition, 1981 Space Shuttle Columbia launching.jpg
The Space Shuttle Columbia seconds after engine ignition, 1981

American interplanetary probes continued in the 1980s, the Voyager duo being the most known. After making a flyby of Jupiter in 1979, they went near Saturn in 1980–1981. Voyager 2 reached Uranus in 1986 (just a few days before the Challenger disaster), and Neptune in 1989 before the probes exited the solar system.

No American probes were launched to Mars in the 1980s, and the Viking probes, launched there in 1975, completed their operations by 1982. The Soviets launched two Mars probes in 1988, but they failed.

The arrival of Halley's Comet in 1986 was met by a series of Soviet, Japanese and European Space Agency (ESA) probes, namely Halley Armada.

After a five-year hiatus, manned American space flights resumed with the launch of the space shuttle Columbia in April 1981. The shuttle program progressed smoothly from there, with three more orbiters entering service in 1983–1985. But that all came to an end with the tragic loss of the Challenger (STS-51-L) on January 28, 1986, taking with it seven astronauts, including Christa McAuliffe, who was to have been the first teacher in space. In full view of the world, a faulty O-ring on the right solid rocket booster allowed hot gases to burn through the external fuel tank and cause it to explode, destroying the shuttle in the process. Extensive efforts were made to improve NASA's increasingly careless management practices, and to make the shuttle safer. Flights resumed with the launch of Discovery in September 1988.

The Soviet manned program went well during the decade, experiencing only minor setbacks. The Salyut 6 space station, launched in 1977, was replaced by Salyut 7 in 1982. Then came Mir in 1986, which ended up operating for more than a decade, and was destined to be the last in the line of Soviet space stations that had begun in 1971. One of the Soviet Union's last "superprojects" was the Buran space shuttle; it was only used once, in 1988.

Automobiles

The American auto industry began the 1980s in a thoroughly grim situation, faced with poor quality control, rising import competition, and a severe economic downturn. [15] Chrysler and American Motors (AMC) were near bankruptcy, and Ford was little better off. [16] Only GM continued with business as usual. But the auto makers recovered with the economy by 1983, and in 1985 auto sales in the United States hit a new record. However, the Japanese were now a major presence, and would begin manufacturing cars in the US to get around tariffs. In 1986, Hyundai became the first Korean auto maker to enter the American market. In the same year, the Yugoslavian-built Yugo was brought to the US, but the car was so small and cheap, that it became the subject of jokes. It was sold up to 1991, when economic sanctions against Yugoslavia forced its withdrawal from the American market.

As the decade progressed, cars became smaller and more efficient in design. In 1983, Ford design teams began to incorporate aerodynamic styling to decrease drag while in motion. The Thunderbird was one of the first cars to receive these design changes. In 1985, Ford released the Taurus with a design that was revolutionary among domestic mass market automobiles.

General Motors began suffering significant losses in the late 1980s, partially the result of chairman Roger Smith's restructuring attempts, and partially because of increasingly dated cars. An example were customers who increasingly purchased European luxury cars rather than Cadillacs. In 1985, GM started Saturn (the first new American make since the Edsel), with the goal of producing high-quality import fighters. Production would not begin until 1990.

Chrysler introduced its new compact, front-wheel drive K-cars in 1981. Under the leadership of Lee Iacocca, the company turned a profit again the following year, and by 1983 paid off its government loans. A succession of models using this automobile platform followed. The most significant were the minivans in 1984. These proved a to be popular and they would dominate the van market for more than a decade. In 1987, Chrysler purchased the Italian makes of Lamborghini and Maserati. In the same year, Chrysler bought AMC from Renault laying to rest the last significant independent U.S. automaker, but acquiring the hugely profitable Jeep line and continuing the Eagle brand until the late 1990s. [17]

The DMC DeLorean was the brainchild of John DeLorean, a flamboyant former GM executive. Production of the gull-winged sports car began in Northern Ireland in 1981. John DeLorean was arrested in October 1982 in a sting operation where he was attempting to sell cocaine to save his struggling company. He was acquitted of all charges in 1984, but too late for the DeLorean Motor Company, which closed down in 1983. The DeLorean gained renewed fame afterward as the time machine in the Back to the Future film trilogy.

The imposition of CAFE fuel-mileage standards in 1979 spelled the end of big-block engines, but performance cars and convertibles reemerged in the 1980s. Turbochargers were widely used to boost the performance of small cars, and technology from fuel injection began to take over from the widely used application of carburetors by the late 1980s. Front-wheel drive also became dominant.

The Eighties marked the decline of European brands in North America by the end of the decade. Renault, Citroen, and Peugeot ceased importation by the end of the decade. Alfa Romeo would continue until 1993. Fiat also ceased imports to North America in the Eighties.

Economics

The most prominent events and trends in popular culture of the decade (particularly in the Anglosphere) include:

Music

Michael Jackson was considered one of the most successful male pop and R&B artists of the 1980s. Michael Jackson 1984.jpg
Michael Jackson was considered one of the most successful male pop and R&B artists of the 1980s.
Madonna is considered one of the most successful female pop artists of the 1980s. Madonna, Rotterdam, 26-8-1987.jpg
Madonna is considered one of the most successful female pop artists of the 1980s.

In the United States, MTV was launched and music videos began to have a larger effect on the record industry. Pop artists such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Duran Duran, Prince, Cyndi Lauper and Madonna mastered the format and helped turn this new product into a profitable business. New wave and synthpop were developed by many British and American artists, and became popular phenomena throughout the decade, especially in the early and mid-Eighties. Music grew fragmented and combined into subgenres such as house, goth, and rap metal. [21]

The event of numerous new technologies had a significant impact on 1980s music, and led to a distinct production aesthetic that included synthesizer sounds and drum reverb.

Duran Duran was the most successful pop band of the 1980s, gaining a massive iconic fan following worldwide with their mega hit songs, eye-catching videos and attractive fashion style. They fast became multi-platinum superstars. Mega hit songs like "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "The Reflex" became instant top 10 hits globally putting the band at the center of attention for many years to come, even today. Given their incredible success, Duran Duran has achieved selling over 110 million records worldwide.

Michael Jackson was one of the definitive icons of the 1980s and his leather jacket, glove, and Moonwalk dance were often imitated. Jackson's 1982 album Thriller became—and currently remains—the best-selling album of all time, with sales estimated by various sources as somewhere between 65 and 110 million copies worldwide. His 1987 album Bad sold over 45 million copies and became the first album to have 5 number 1 singles chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Jackson had the most number-one singles throughout the decade (9), and spent the most weeks at #1 (27 weeks). His 1987 Bad World Tour grossed over $125 million worldwide, making it the highest grossing world tour by a solo artist during the decade. Jackson earned numerous awards and titles during the 1980s, the most notable of which were a record 8 Grammy Awards and 8 American Music Awards in 1984, and the honor of Artist of the Decade by U.S. President George H.W. Bush. Jackson was arguably the biggest star during this time, and would eventually sell more than 1 billion records around the world.

In the summer of 1983, pop icon and Motown legend Diana Ross gave a benefit concert at New York Central Park to raise money to build a playground. Because the show was interrupted by a violent thunderstorm, Ross gave an impromptu make-up show the following day.

Prince was one of the most popular stars of the 1980s and the most successful chart act of the decade. His breakthrough album 1999, released in 1982, produced three top-ten hits and the album itself charted at No 9. on the Billboard Hot 100. His sixth studio album Purple Rain was an international success, boosting Prince to superstardom and selling over 25 million copies worldwide. The album produced the US No 1. singles, "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy" and sold 13 million copies in the United States as of 1996. Prince released an album every year for the rest of the decade, all charting within the Top 10, with the exception of Lovesexy. In the 1990s, he infamously changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in response to a record dispute with Warner Brothers. He went on to sell over 120 million records worldwide and win 7 Grammy Award s.

The '80s were above all a time of international corporatization... [Rock music] was reconceived as intellectual property, as a form of capital itself... The '80s were when stars replaced artists as bearers of significance... The '80s took rock sexuality and rock sexism over the top... The '80s were a time of renewed racial turmoil after ten-plus years of polite resegregation... Technology changed everything in the '80s. Cable brought us MTV and the triumph of the image. Synthesizers inflected the sounds that remained. Sampling revolutionized rock and roll's proprietary relationship to its own history. Cassettes made private music portable—and public. Compact discs inflated profitability as they faded into the background of busy lives.

Robert Christgau in Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s (1990) [22]

Madonna and Whitney Houston are regarded by many as the most groundbreaking female artists of the decade. The keyboard synthesizer and drum machine were among the most popular instruments in music during the 1980s, especially in new wave music. After the 1980s electronic instruments were no longer popular in rock but continued to be the main component of mainstream pop.

Hard rock, heavy metal, and glam metal became some of the most dominant music genres of the decade, peaking with the arrival of such bands as Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Poison, Europe, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, and virtuoso guitarists such as Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen. The scene also helped 1970s hard rock artists such as AC/DC, Heart, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Queen, Van Halen, KISS, Ronnie James Dio, and Judas Priest reach a new generation of fans.

By 1989, the hip hop scene had evolved, gaining recognition and exhibiting a stronger influence on the music industry. This time period is also considered part of the golden age of hip hop. The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Run-D.M.C., Grandmaster Flash, the Furious Five, Boogie Down Productions, N.W.A, LL Cool J, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, EPMD, Eric B. & Rakim, Ice-T, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, 2 Live Crew, Tone Lōc, Biz Markie, the Jungle Brothers, The Sugar Hill Gang and others experienced success in this genre.

Ex-Beatle John Lennon released his last album, Double Fantasy , in 1980 and won Album of the Year at the 1982 Grammy Awards.

Country music catapulted into a new realm of popularity with youth appeal and record-breaking marks. Groundbreaking artists such as Alabama, Hank Williams, Jr., Reba McEntire, George Strait, Ricky Skaggs, Janie Fricke, The Judds, and Randy Travis achieved multiple platinum and award status, foreshadowing the genre's popularity explosion in the 1990s. Country legends from prior decades, however; such as George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty, the Oak Ridge Boys, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Don Williams, Crystal Gayle, Ronnie Milsap, Barbara Mandrell, and the Statler Brothers; also continued to score hits throughout the decade.

The techno style of electronic dance music emerged in Detroit, Michigan, during the mid- to late 1980s. The house music style, another form of electronic dance music, emerged in Chicago, Illinois, in the early 1980s. It was initially popularized in mid-1980s discothèques catering to the African-American, Latino and gay communities, first in Chicago, then in New York City and Detroit. It eventually reached Europe before becoming infused in mainstream pop and dance music worldwide.

Punk rock continued to make strides in the musical community. With bands leading the significance of this period such as Black Flag, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Suicidal Tendencies, D.O.A., Bad Religion, Minutemen, Social Distortion, and Dead Kennedys, it gave birth to many subgenres like hardcore, which has continued to be moderately successful, giving birth in turn to a few counterculture movements, most notably the Straight Edge movement which began in the early era of this decade. College rock caught on in the underground scene of the 1980s in a nationwide movement with a distinct D.I.Y approach. Bands like the Pixies, R.E.M., The Replacements, Sonic Youth, XTC, The Smiths, Hüsker Dü, The Stone Roses, The Jesus and Mary Chain etc. experienced success in this genre. The 1980s also saw the birth of the grunge genre, with the arrival of such bands as Soundgarden, Green River, Melvins, Screaming Trees, Malfunkshun, Skin Yard, The U-Men, Blood Circus, Nirvana, Tad, Mudhoney, Mother Love Bone and Alice in Chains (who formed in 1987, but did not release their first album until three years later).

Stage view of the Live Aid concert at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium in the United States in 1985. The concert was a major global international effort by musicians and activists to sponsor action to send aid to the people of Ethiopia who were suffering from a major famine. Live Aid at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA.jpg
Stage view of the Live Aid concert at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium in the United States in 1985. The concert was a major global international effort by musicians and activists to sponsor action to send aid to the people of Ethiopia who were suffering from a major famine.

Several notable music artists died of unnatural causes in the 1980s. Bon Scott, at the time lead singer of rock band AC/DC, died of acute alcohol poisoning on February 19, 1980. English drummer John Bonham of the rock band Led Zeppelin also died that year in similar fashion. John Lennon was shot outside his home in New York City on the night of December 8, 1980. Tim Hardin died of a heroin overdose on December 29, 1980. Bob Marley died from a lentiginous skin melanoma on May 11, 1981. Harry Chapin died of a car accident on July 16, 1981. Marvin Gaye was shot dead by his father at his home in Los Angeles on April 1, 1984, one day before what would have been his 45th birthday. Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist Randy Rhoads died in an airplane crash on March 19, 1982. Karen Carpenter died from heart failure caused by her anorexia condition on February 4, 1983. Metallica bassist Cliff Burton was killed in a bus accident in Sweden on September 27, 1986. Andy Gibb died in 1988 as a result of myocarditis.

In 1984, the supergroup Band Aid was formed to raise aid and awareness of the economic plight of Ethiopia. In 1985's Live Aid concert, featuring many artists, promoted attention and action to send food aid to Ethiopia whose people were suffering from a major famine.

Musicians and bands

Film

The highest-grossing film of the decade was E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) Ponferrada - graffiti & murals 03 (cropped).JPG
The highest-grossing film of the decade was E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

The 1980s saw the return of studio-driven films, coming from the filmmaker-driven New Hollywood era of the 1970s. [24] The period was when 'high concept' films gained popularity, where movies were to be easily marketable and understandable, and, therefore, they had short cinematic plots that could be summarized in one or two sentences. The modern Hollywood blockbuster is the most popular film format from the 1980s. Producer Don Simpson [25] is usually credited with the creation of the high-concept picture of the modern Hollywood blockbuster. In the mid 1980s, a wave of British directors, including Ridley Scott, Alan Parker, Adrian Lyne and Tony Scott (with the latter directing a number of Don Simpson films) ushered in a new era of blockbusters using the crowd-pleasing skills they had honed in UK television commercials. [26]

The '80s also saw the golden age of "teen flicks" and also spawned the Brat Pack films, many of which were directed by John Hughes. Films such as Class , The Breakfast Club , Fast Times at Ridgemont High , Mannequin , Porky's , Pretty in Pink , Sixteen Candles , St. Elmo's Fire , Ferris Bueller's Day Off , Weird Science , and Valley Girl were popular teen comedies of the era and launched the careers of several major celebrities such as: Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage and Michael J Fox. Other popular films included About Last Night... , Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure , Dirty Dancing , Flashdance , Footloose , Raging Bull and St. Elmo's Fire which also launched the careers of high-profile celebrities like Demi Moore, Joe Pesci, Keanu Reeves, Kevin Bacon, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, and River Phoenix.

Horror films were a popular genre during the decade, with several notable horror franchises being born during the 1980s. Among the most popular were the Child's Play , A Nightmare on Elm Street , Friday the 13th , Hellraiser , and Poltergeist franchises. Aside from these films, the concept of the B horror film gave rise to a plethora of horror films that went on to earn a cult status. An example of such is the 1981 film The Evil Dead , which marked the directorial debut of Sam Raimi.

Several action film franchises were also launched during the 1980s. The most popular of these were the Beverly Hills Cop, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon , and Rambo franchises. Other action films from the decade which are of notable status include The Terminator , Aliens , Predator , and RoboCop . These films propelled the careers of modern celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Eddie Murphy, Mel Gibson, Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris to international recognition. On the other side of the globe, Hong Kong action cinema was being revolutionized by a new wave of inventive filmmakers that includes Jackie Chan, Tsui Hark, and John Woo.

Five more James bond films were released, with Roger Moore continuing in the role in For Your Eyes Only , Octopussy , and A View To A Kill , before handing over the role to Timothy Dalton who starred in The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill .

A significant development in the home media business is the establishment of The Criterion Collection in 1984, an American company "dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions that offer the highest technical quality". Through their releases, they were able to introduce what is now a standard to home video: letterboxing to retain the original aspect ratio, film commentaries and supplements/special features. [27] [28]

Actors / Entertainers

Filmmakers

Television

In 1981 the music channel MTV was launched, which had a great influence on the way music is marketed and on the rise of many prominent rock stars during the 1980s and 1990s MTV Logo.svg
In 1981 the music channel MTV was launched, which had a great influence on the way music is marketed and on the rise of many prominent rock stars during the 1980s and 1990s

MTV was launched in the United States in 1981 and had a profound impact on the music industry and popular culture further ahead, especially during its early run in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Some of the most popular TV series which premiered during the 1980s or carried over from the 1970s include: Alf , Airwolf , The A-Team , The Love Boat , Lou Grant , The Incredible Hulk , Too Close For Comfort , The Dukes of Hazzard , Trapper John, M.D. , Diff'rent Strokes , Dynasty , Dallas , Knots Landing , One Day at a Time , Alice , Falcon Crest , Knight Rider , Newhart , Pee-Wee's Playhouse , Gimme a Break! , Punky Brewster , Taxi , Happy Days , St. Elsewhere , MacGyver , L.A. Law , Magnum, P.I. , M*A*S*H , Barney Miller , WKRP in Cincinnati , Laverne & Shirley , Mork & Mindy , Miami Vice , The Jeffersons , The Facts of Life , Hill Street Blues , T.J. Hooker , The Cosby Show , Highway To Heaven , Murder, She Wrote , 227 , Matlock , Star Trek: The Next Generation , Night Court , Who's the Boss? , Family Matters , Charles in Charge , The Hogan Family , Perfect Strangers , Designing Women , Amen , Head of the Class , Murphy Brown , The Wonder Years , Empty Nest , Coach , Doogie Howser M.D. , Quantum Leap , Saved by the Bell , Roseanne , Full House , The Golden Girls , Three's Company , Cheers , Growing Pains , Benson , Soap , Family Ties , Seinfeld , The Simpsons , the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) , Married... with Children , Dragon Ball , Hee Haw , and Moonlighting .

The 1980s was a decade of transformation in television. Cable television became more accessible and therefore, more popular. By the middle of the decade, almost 70% of the American population had cable television and over 85% were paying for cable services such as HBO or Showtime. [29] People who lived in rural areas where cable TV service was not available could still access cable channels through a large (and expensive) satellite dish, which, by the mid-1990s, was phased out in favor of the small rooftop dishes that offer DirecTV and Dish Network services.

The 1980s also saw the debut of prime-time soap operas such as Dallas , its spin-off Knots Landing , Dynasty , Falcon Crest , EastEnders and Neighbours .

In 1985, both sitcoms debuted on the same day: The Golden Girls , starring Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, where it lasted for 7 seasons, where it was also the first comedy ever to feature 4 older women in the title show, and 227 , was originally the sitcom vehicle for Marla Gibbs, who previously starred in The Jeffersons , that also launched Jackée Harry's career.

1986 was the year that marked the debut of the legal drama, Matlock , which was the comeback vehicle for Andy Griffith, as the title character, [30] which also launched the careers of Nancy Stafford, Clarence Gilyard Jr. and Daniel Roebuck.

TV talk shows expanded in popularity; The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson remained popular into its third decade, and some of the most viewed newer shows were hosted by Geraldo Rivera, Arsenio Hall and David Letterman. [31]

The 1980s also was prominent for spawning several popular children's cartoons such as The Smurfs , ThunderCats , Voltron , The Transformers , Masters of the Universe , G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero , Inspector Gadget , Muppet Babies , Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles , DuckTales , Garfield and Friends , The Raccoons , Heathcliff and Beetlejuice .

Sports

Video gaming

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was released in the mid-1980s and became the best-selling gaming console of its time NES-Console-Set.jpg
The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was released in the mid-1980s and became the best-selling gaming console of its time

Popular video games include: Pac-Man , Super Mario Bros. , The Legend of Zelda , Metroid , Donkey Kong , Frogger , Digger , Tetris , and Golden Axe . Pac-Man (1980) was the first game to achieve widespread popularity in mainstream culture and the first game character to be popular in his own right. Handheld electronic LCD games was introduced into the youth market segment. The primary gaming computers of the 1980s emerged in 1982: the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. Nintendo finally decided in 1985 to release its Famicom (released in 1983 in Japan) in the United States under the name Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It was bundled with Super Mario Bros. and it suddenly became a success. The NES dominated the American and Japanese market until the rise of the next generation of consoles in the early 1990s, causing some to call this time the Nintendo era . Sega released its 16-bit console, Mega Drive/Genesis, in 1988 in Japan and in North America in 1989. In 1989, Nintendo released the Game Boy, a monochrome handheld console.

Fashion

The beginning of the decade saw the continuation of the clothing styles of the late 1970s and evolved into heavy metal fashion by the end. However, it had a lot of changes considering that, this fashion became more and more extravagant during the 80s. The 80s included things like teased hair, ripped jeans, neon clothing and lots of colours and different designs which at first weren't accepted for a lot of people.

Significant hairstyle trends of the 1980s include the perm, the mullet, the Jheri curl, the hi-top fade, and big hair.

Significant clothing trends of the 1980s include shoulder pads, jean jackets, leather pants, aviator jackets, jumpsuits, Members Only jackets, skin-tight acid-washed jeans, Izod and "Preppy" polo shirts, leggings and leg warmers (popularized in the film Flashdance ), off-the-shoulder shirts, and cut sweatshirts (again, popularized in the film Flashdance ). Miniskirts made a dramatic comeback in the mid-1980s after a ten-year absence. Makeup on the 1980s was aggressive, shining and colorful. They gave big attention to their lips, eyebrows and cheeks. They used a lot of blush and a big eyeliner was always necessary.

Additional significant trends of the 1980s include headbands, Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses (popularized in the film Top Gun ), Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses (popularized in the films Risky Business and The Blues Brothers ), Swatch watches, and the Rubik's Cube (became a popular fad throughout the decade). Girls also wore jelly shoes, large crucifix necklaces, and braissers all inspired by Madonna's "Like a Virgin" music video.

See also

Timeline

The following articles contain brief timelines which list the most prominent events of the decade:

1980198119821983198419851986198719881989

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Further reading

  1. ISBN   978-0-9929340-8-8