The Transformative Impact of the 1980’s

The Transformative Impact of the 1980’s

The 1980’s was a momentous decade that ushered in tremendous social change of many different types. As well as memorable and sometimes tragic individual events we also saw the beginnings of new technologies that would redesign human affairs at an ever -increasing pace. This was the story of the 1980’s.

 1980: On the 8th December John Lennon was murdered by a deranged gunman in New York City.

1981: On 12th August the first IBM personal computer was released to the public. This was the beginning of the computer revolution that surged across the world over the following two decades.

1982: On 30th November 1982 CBS records released the album “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. This became the best selling album in history, with sales exceeding 66 million copies.

1983: On 13th October the world’s first commercial mobile telephone call was made in Chicago. This was the forerunner of the mobile communications system that spread like wildfire across the globe soon after.

1984: On 24th January the first Macintosh computer was introduced, adding a new dimension to the already rapidly growing personal computer market.

1984: On 31st October the Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi was shot dead by two of her Sikh bodyguards, triggering massive anti Sikh protests across India.

1984: On 10th September a genetics researcher, Alec Jeffries of the University of Leicester, developed DNA profiling – a technique that would have far-reaching implications for forensic science.

1986: On 28th January the world was shocked to learn that the US Space Shuttle “Challenger” had exploded soon after lift off, with an extensive viewing audience witnessing the disaster live on television.

1988: On 21st December Pan Am Flight 103, travelling from Frankfurt to Detroit, exploded in mid air and crashed onto Lockerbie, a town in south-western Scotland. The explosion was the result of a bomb deliberately planted by Libyan nationals, allegedly under instructions of the Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi.

1989: In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) began the World Wide Web, originally designed as an information sharing platform between universities. Its explosive growth was destined to change the world.


Image: A Macintosh 128K (that has apparently been upgraded to 512K, see window) running Finder 5.2 American transparent background. Note the add-on “Programmer’s Switch” on the lower-left corner of the case, which includes reset and interrupt buttons, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.