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.
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 and the Soviet Union was increasingly unwilling to defend its governments in satellite states.
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 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.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.
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 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. 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.
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
Air India Flight 182 was destroyed on June 23, 1985, by Sikh-Canadian militants. It was the biggest mass murder involving Canadians in Canada's history.
On December 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over the village of Lockerbie, Scotland, while en route from London's Heathrow Airport to New York's JFK. The bombing killed all 243 passengers, 16 crew members and 11 people on the ground, totaling 270 fatalities who were citizens of 21 nationalities. The bombing was and remains the worst terrorist attack on UK soil.
Salvadoran Civil War (1980-1992) - part of the cold war conflicts, reached its peak in the 1980s, 70,000 Salvadorans died.
Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, sparking the Falklands War. It occurred from April 2 to July 14, 1982 between the United Kingdom and Argentina as British forces fought to recover the islands. Britain emerged victorious and its stance in international affairs and its long-decaying reputation as a colonial power received an unexpected boost. The military junta of Argentina, on the other hand, was left humiliated by the defeat; and its leader Leopoldo Galtieri was deposed three days after the end of the war. A military investigation known as the Rattenbach report even recommended his execution.
1982 Lebanon War - the Government of Israel ordered the invasion as a response to the assassination attempt against Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Shlomo Argov, by the Abu Nidal Organization and due to the constant terror attacks on northern Israel made by the terrorist organizations which resided in Lebanon. After attacking the PLO, as well as Syrian, leftist and MuslimLebanese forces, Israel occupied southern Lebanon and eventually surrounded the PLO in west Beirut and subjected to heavy bombardment, they negotiated passage from Lebanon.
The Iran-Iraq War took place from 1980 to 1988. Iraq was accused of using illegal chemical weapons to kill Iranian forces and against its own dissident Kurdish populations. Both sides suffered enormous casualties, but the poorly equipped Iranian armies suffered worse for it, being forced to use soldiers as young as 15 in human-wave attacks. Iran finally agreed to an armistice in 1988.
The United States launched an aerial bombardment of Libya in 1986 in retaliation for Libyan support of terrorism and attacks on US personnel in Germany and Turkey.
The United States engaged in significant direct and indirect conflict in the decade via alliances with various groups in a number of Central and South American countries claiming that the U.S. was acting to oppose the spread of communism and end illicit drug trade. The U.S. government supported the government of Colombia's attempts to destroy its large illicit cocaine-trafficking industry and provided support for right-wing military government in the Salvadoran civil war which became controversial after the El Mozote massacre on December 11, 1981, in which U.S.-trained Salvadoran paramilitaries killed 1000 Salvadoran civilians. The United States, along with members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, invadedGrenada in 1983. The Iran-Contra affair erupted which involved U.S. interventionism in Nicaragua, resulting in members of the U.S. government being indicted in 1986. U.S. military action began against Panama in December 1989 to overthrow its dictator, Manuel Noriega resulting in 3,500 civilian casualties and the restoration of democratic rule.
The most notable internal conflicts of the decade include:
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 occurred in the People's Republic of China in 1989, in which pro-democracy protesters demanded political reform. The protests were crushed by the People's Liberation Army.
The First Intifada (First Uprising) in the Gaza Strip and West Bank began in 1987 when Palestinian Arabs mounted large-scale protests against the Israeli military presence in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, largely inhabited by Palestinians. The First Intifada would continue until peace negotiations began between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Israeli government in 1993.
Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) - Throughout the decade, Lebanon was engulfed in civil war between Islamic and Christian factions.
US President Reagan's decision to station intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Western Europe provoked mass protests involving more than one million people.
Decolonization and independence
In 1982, Canada gained official independence from the United Kingdom with the Canada Act 1982, authorized by the signature by Elizabeth II. This act severed all political dependencies of the United Kingdom in Canada (although the Queen remained the head of state).
In 1986, Australia gained full independence from the United Kingdom with the Australia Act 1986, which severed the last remaining powers of the British government over the Australian government, including the removal of the privy council as the highest court of appeal. Australia retained the queen as head of state.
In 1986, New Zealand and the United Kingdom fully separated New Zealand's governments from the influence of the British Parliament, resulting in New Zealand's full independence with the Constitution Act 1986 which also reorganised the New Zealand government.
Independence was granted to Vanuatu from the British/French condominium (1980), Kiribati from joint US-British government (1981) and Palau from the United States (1986).
Zimbabwe becomes independent from official colonial rule of the United Kingdom in 1980.
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.
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).
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 Ministers 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 Ceau?escu 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 Day.
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.
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.
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).
On October 17, 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area during Game 3 of the 1989 World Series, gaining worldwide attention. Sixty-five people were killed and thousands injured, with major structural damage on freeways and buildings and broken gas-line fires in San Francisco, California. The cost of the damage totaled $13 billion (1989 USD).
The US Drought of 1988 decimated the US with many parts of the country affected. This was the worst drought to hit the United States in many years. The drought caused $60 billion in damage (between $80 billion and $120 billion for 2008 USD). The concurrent heat waves killed 5,800 to 17,000 people in the United States.
On August 19, 1980, Saudia Flight 163 caught fire moments after takeoff from the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh. The flight quickly returned to the airport, but evacuation of the plane was delayed and all 301 people aboard died.
On July 9, 1982, Pan Am Flight 759 was forced down by a wind shear microburst, killing 153 people.
June 21, 1985, Air India Flight 182, flight from Montreal Canada is blown up over Irish waters by a bomb placed in the luggage compartment. This was the greatest act of terrorism until 9/11.
Japan Airlines Flight 123, carrying 524 people, crashed on August 12, 1985, while on a flight from Tokyo to Osaka killing 520 of the people on board, leaving four survivors. This was, and still is, the worst single-plane crash ever.
On January 28, 1986, the NASA Space Shuttle Challengerdisintegrated 73 seconds after launch, killing all of the crew on board. This was the first disaster involving the destruction of a NASA space shuttle. A faulty O-ring was the cause of the accident.
On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl disaster, a large-scale nuclear meltdown in the Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union, spread a large amount of radioactive material across Europe, killing 47 people, dooming countless others to future radiation-related cancer, and causing the displacement of 300,000 people.
On November 28, 1987, a fire broke out on South African Airways Flight 295, eventually causing the aircraft to crash into the Indian Ocean. All 159 aboard were killed.
On December 7, 1987, 43 people were killed when an irate former USAir employee went on a rampage aboard PSA Flight 1771.
On December 20, 1987, the Philippine passenger ferry MV Doña Paz burned and sank after colliding with the oil tanker MT Vector. With an estimated death toll of over 4,000, this was and remains the world's deadliest peacetime maritime disaster.
On July 3, 1988, Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down by the U.S. missile cruiser USS Vincennes over the Strait of Hormuz, killing all 290 people on the plane. The event is one of the most controversial aviation occurrences of all time, with the true cause disputed between the Americans and the Iranians.
On December 21, 1988 an American passenger 747 airliner en route from Frankfurt to Detroit (via London and New York) Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed by a bomb while it was flying over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing the 259 passengers and crew members on board and 11 people on the ground. This was the worst terrorist attack to have occurred on British soil.
On March 24, 1989, the oil tankerExxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound spilling an estimated equivalent of 260,000 to 750,000 barrels of crude oil. Although not among the largest oil spills in history, its remote and sensitive location made it one of the most devastating ecological disasters ever. The after effects of the spill continue to be felt to this day.
On July 19, 1989, United Airlines Flight 232, carrying 296 people, suffered an in-flight engine failure and was forced to crash-land at Sioux City, Iowa. 185 survived, while 111 were killed when the plane burst into flames upon touchdown.
Assassinations and attempts
Prominent assassinations, targeted killings, and assassination attempts include:
Ronald Reagan was shot in Washington, D.C. on March 30, 1981, by John Hinckley, a mentally disturbed young man who also stalked actress Jodie Foster. Reagan's press secretary James Brady was also shot, along with a police officer and a U.S. Secret Service agent. The latter two recovered, along with Reagan himself, but Brady used a wheelchair as a result of brain damage thereafter and would become an advocate of gun control.
In May 1981, there was an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square. The would-be assassin was a Turkish man named Mehmet Ali Agca, who was subsequently sentenced to life in prison, but would be pardoned in 2000. At the time, it was widely believed that he was an agent of the Soviet Union or Bulgaria, due to the Pope's vocal anti-communist stance. Agca himself told dozens of conflicting stories over the years, and his motive remains unclear.
Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984, by her own bodyguards in response to the Indian Army's attack on Golden Temple to destroy Sikh Militant stronghold in Amritsar earlier in the decade.
On October 6, 1981 Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated during an annual victory parade held in Cairo by members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad who participated in the parade wearing military uniform
The attempted assassination of US President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981
On December 8, 1980 British musician John Lennon was murdered at front of his house in New York by lone gunman Mark David Chapman
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, which started to become general features in computers after the middle of the decade.
IBM PC (model 5150), the first DOS-compatible PC was released in 1981. The IBM PCs and compatible models from other vendors would become the most widely used computer systems in the world.
Commodore 64, with sales estimated at more than 17 million units in 1982-1994 became the best-selling computer model of all time.
The Macintosh 128K, the first commercially successful personal computer to use a graphical user interface, was introduced to the public in 1984.
The Amiga 500, the first "low-end" 16 and 32 bit multimedia home/personal computer, was introduced in October 1987.
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.
In 1984, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X becomes the first commercially available mobile phone model
During the decade the standardization of Group 3 facsimile terminals by the International Telecommunication Union contributed to the significant spread of the fax machine.
VHS won out over the competing Betamax standard, becoming the leading standard in home video systems
The CD - the most basic CD ("Digital Audio Compact Disc") was released in October 1982 for distribution and listening to digital audio, and at the time contained up to 74 minutes of music.
TCP/IP: ARPANET officially changed its main protocol from NCP to TCP/IP on January 1, 1983 when the new protocols were activated. The TCP/IP protocol will become the dominant communications protocol from then onwards, and would be used as the foundation on which the Internet would be based.
FidoNet - In 1984, FidoNet was launched, enabling BBS users to send private messages (e-mails) and public messages (in the forum) between all BBS systems that were connected to the FidoNet network, in addition to sending files to each other. The rise in popularity and availability of the Internet around the world around the mid-1990s eventually contributed to the irrelevance of FidoNet.
World Wide Web - In 1989, the British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee first proposed a project to his employer CERN, based on the concept of hypertext, to facilitate sharing and updating information among researchers. In mid-November 1989 he would develop the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the internet. In the coming years Berners-Lee developed the system which would later become the foundation of the World Wide Web.
The most basic CD was first introduced in October 1982 for the purpose of distribution and listening to digital audio
In 1981, Microsoft introduced the MS-DOS operating system, which would become the world's most widely used operating system in the 1980s and first half of the 1990s.
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.
After a six-year hiatus, American space flights with astronauts 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 program with cosmonauts 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.
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.Chrysler and American Motors (AMC) were near bankruptcy, and Ford was little better off. 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.
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.
The early 1980s was marked by a severe global economic recession that affected much of the developed world.
Inflation peaked in the U.S. in April 1980 at 14.76% and subsequently fell to a low of 1.10% in December 1986 but then rebounded to 4.65% at the end of the decade. On the other hand, Finland's economy grew by almost the fastest pace in the world, which eventually culminated in the recession of the 1990s Finnish economy. In Finland, the 1980s were called the "Nousukausi", or "economic upswing".
Revival of laissez faire/neoliberal economics in the developed world led by the UK and US governments emphasising reduced government intervention, lower taxes and deregulation of the stock markets associated with an economic revival in the mid- to late '80s. Consumers became more sophisticated in their tastes (a trend begun in the 1960s), and things such as European cars and designer clothing became fashionable in the US.
Mexico suffers from a debt crisis starting in 1982. Economic problems worsened in 1985 by resignation of most officials of the Mexican government after a failed response of emergency aid in the Mexico City earthquake (September 19) just after the 175th anniversary of Independence holiday (September 16). In 1988, Carlos Salinas de Gortari won a controversial presidential election amid charges of voter fraud, bribery, corruption and other abuses of power.
The Solidarity movement began in Poland in 1980, involving workers demanding political liberalization and democracy in Poland. Attempts by the Communist government to prevent the rise the Solidarity movement failed and negotiations between the movement and the government took place. Solidarity would be instrumental in encouraging people in other communist states to demand political reform.
The financial world and the stock market were glamorized in a way they had not been since the 1920s, and figures like Donald Trump and Michael Milken were widely seen as symbols of the decade. Widespread fear of Japanese economic strength would grip the United States in the '80s.
During the 1980s, for the first time in world history, transpacific trade (with East Asia, such as China, and Latin America, primarily with Mexico) equaled that of transatlantic trade (with Western Europe or with neighboring Canada), solidifying American economic power.
The phrase Big Bang, used in reference to the sudden deregulation of financial markets, was coined to describe measures, including abolition of fixed commission charges and of the distinction between stockjobbers and stockbrokers on the London Stock Exchange and change from open-outcry to electronic, screen-based trading, effected by Margaret Thatcher in 1986.
The most prominent events and trends in popular culture of the decade (particularly in the Anglosphere) include:
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 1980s. Music grew fragmented and combined into subgenres such as house, goth, and rap metal.
The advent of numerous new technologies had a significant impact on 1980s music, and led to a distinct production aesthetic that included synthesizer sounds, drum machines and drum reverb.
Michael Jackson was one of the 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. PresidentGeorge H.W. Bush. Jackson was arguably the biggest star during this time, and would eventually sell more than 1 billion records around the world.
Prince was a popular star 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 seven Grammy Awards.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 1980s saw the return of studio-driven films, coming from the filmmaker-driven New Hollywood era of the 1970s. 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 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.
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.
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.
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. 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 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles were boycotted by the Soviet Union and most of the Communist world (China, Romania, and Yugoslavia participated in the games) in retaliation for the boycott of the 1980 Games in Moscow.
The 1988 Summer Olympics were held in Seoul, South Korea. Attempts to include North Korea in the games were unsuccessful and it boycotted along with six other countries, but with 160 nations participating, it had the highest attendance of any Olympics to date.
FIA bans Group Brallying after a series of deaths and injuries take place in the 1986 season.
American basketball player Michael Jordan burst onto the scene in the NBA during the 1980s, bringing a surge in popularity for the sport and becoming one of the most beloved sports icons in the United States.
On March 29, 1987, WrestleMania III had a record attendance of 93,173; the largest recorded attendance for a live indoor sporting event in North America until 2010. This also remained the WrestleMania attendance record until WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium on April 3, 2016, in Arlington, Texas
West Germany won the 1980 UEFA championship.
Italy won the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain.
France hosted and won the 1984 UEFA championship.
Argentina won the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.
The Netherlands won the 1988 UEFA championship.
Hawthorn Football Club dominated Australian football, reaching seven successive VFL Grand Finals and winning the premiership in 1983, 1986, 1988, and 1989
Liverpool F.C. were the most successful club side of the era, becoming English champions on six occasions (1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, and 1988) and winning two European Cups (1981, 1984). They also won the FA Cup in 1986, completing the first double in their history, and four consecutive League Cup titles from 1981 to 1984.
Other highly successful club sides of the 1980s include Juventus (7 major honours won), Real Madrid (10 major honors won), Bayern Munich (9 titles won) PSV Eindhoven (4 times Dutch champions and European Cup winners in 1988), and Flamengo (4 times Brazilian champions, South American and International Cup winners in 1981).
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, fashion became more extravagant during the 1980s. The 1980s included teased and colorfully-dyed hair, ripped jeans, neon clothing and many colours and different designs which at first were not accepted.
^Ebert, Roger; Bordwell, David (2008). Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert (Paperback ed.). Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. p. xvii. ISBN978-0226182018. Retrieved 2016. In his pluralism, [Roger] Ebert proved a more authentic cinephile than many of his contemporaries. They tied their fortunes to the Film Brats and then suffered the inevitable disappointments of the 1980s return to studio-driven pictures.