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What Were the 80s Like?

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What was life like back then? How did things change from the 70s to the 80s? What were the biggest changes?

The 1980s were a time of great technological advancements. The computer revolution had begun, and the world was changing rapidly. People were becoming more mobile, and the way they communicated was also evolving.

This article goes through some of the events that took place during the 1980s and looks at what the 1980s were really like.

Some of the most important people and inventions of this era include Michael J. Fox, John DeLorean, Apple Computer, Pac-Man, Prince, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Atari, Nintendo, MTV, and many others. 

Let’s dive in and find out a little more about what made the 80s so great.

Man in glasses sitting at old computer and examining diskettes at the table

How Did Life Change in the 80s?

In the 1970s, we saw the beginning of the end for the traditional family unit. More women began working outside the home, and some men began staying home with their children.

There was a big shift towards individualism as well. We started seeing more divorces, and people became less loyal to their jobs or companies.

In the 1980s, technology continued to advance. Computers became smaller, faster, and cheaper. They also became much easier to use.

This led to an explosion of computers being used by everyone. It didn’t matter if you were rich or poor, young or old. Nearly everyone could now afford one in one way or another.

Technology also advanced our communication methods. Cell phones became affordable and common. The Internet boomed in the mid-1980s, allowing us to communicate instantly around the globe.

There was also a huge increase in the number of cars on the road. Gas prices dropped significantly, making it possible for more people to own cars.

Cars became safer with new developments, and there were fewer accidents.

The Economy

Drawing businessman a line graph and a bar chart

During the 1980s, the economy was booming. Unemployment rates were low, and businesses were growing. Companies were investing heavily in research and development, which allowed them to create better products.

During this time, the United States was involved in two wars: The Iran/Iraq War (1980–1988) and the Persian Gulf War (1990). Both conflicts had a significant impact on the economy.

The Iran/Iraq war caused oil prices to skyrocket. Oil shortages resulted in long lines at gas stations across America. People were forced to turn to alternative fuels like ethanol and electricity.

The Persian Gulf War also had a major effect on the economy. During this conflict, many American factories shut down. As a result, unemployment rose dramatically.

However, the economy did rebound after these events. By 1990, unemployment had returned to prewar levels.

 Woman's hand switched and adjusting button cassette player

Music of the 1980s

Music in the 1980s was different from music today. Hip-hop and rap were still relatively new genres. Rock and pop dominated the charts.

Artists such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince, Duran Duran, U2, Cyndi Lauper, Whitney Houston, and Bruce Springsteen were all very popular.

Popular songs included “I Will Survive,” “Billie Jean,” “We Are the World,” “Thriller,” and “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Many other songs are considered classics, including “Purple Rain” by Prince, “Take On Me” by A-ha, and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard.

Moreover, the rise in rock music in the 80s gave birth to bands like Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, and Van Halen. These bands would go on to become extremely successful in the 90s and beyond.

Two of the most notable artists in the era were Prince and Michael Jackson.

group of teenagers playing arcade

Prince: A Musical Genius Who Influenced Many Artists

Musicians from every genre have been inspired by Prince. From Madonna to Kanye West, artists from all genres have cited him as an influence.

He was also a musical genius, producing hits such as “1999” and “Little Red Corvette.”

His music has influenced many musicians over the years, including Elton John, who said he was “the greatest musician alive today.”

Michael Jackson: An Iconic Pop Star With His Dance Moves

Michael Jackson is considered one of the best pop stars of all time. He was known for his signature dance moves, which included moonwalking, popping, and other dance styles.

His songs are still played today, and he continues to be one of the top-selling artists of all time.


What Did People Wear in the 1980s?

Fashion in the 1980s was something to remember. From acid-washed jeans to neon leg warmers.

Nearly every item of clothing you owned would have some element of neon on the front, and this was characteristic of the era. 

Denim was also popular and the classic ‘denim-on-denim’ look was a staple of every wardrobe.

Shoulder pads were not just for football players and were present in every women’s blazer as they went about during their working day. 

Finally, tracksuits were worn for everything. And we mean everything. Whether it was breaking a sweat or filming a music vid, there was a tracksuit for every occasion. 

Stylish young man in a retro jacket and a girl in red and with a vintage cassette player,

People and Culture of the 1980s

Michael J. Fox: A Role Model for All of Us

One man who influenced the culture of the 1980s was actor Michael J. Fox. He is best known for playing Marty McFly in the Back To The Future movies.

His character has become a role model for kids growing up today.

John DeLorean: An Entrepreneur and Innovator

Another person who changed the face of business in the 1980s was John DeLorean. He was the founder of DeLorean Motors, which produced the DeLorean sports car.

He invented the first all-electric automobile, but he failed when his company went bankrupt.

Apple Computer: A Leader in Innovation

Another major player in the world of innovation was Apple Computer. Their products included the Macintosh personal computer and the Lisa computer.

These are just two examples of how Apple helped shape the culture of the 1980s.

Pac-Man: One of the Most Popular Games Ever Made

Little boy playing an old video game on a retro console

If you’re not familiar with Pac-Man, then you’ve probably never experienced the joy of eating dots while avoiding ghosts.

It was released in Japan in 1980, and it quickly spread throughout the United States. By 1983, it had sold over 100 million copies worldwide.

The 80s Was the Golden Age of Television

Television became more popular than ever during the 1980s. Shows like Seinfeld and Cheers dominated the airwaves.

This was because cable television was becoming more common and accessible to all households.

Final Thoughts

We hope after reading this article you have gained an understanding of what the 80s were like, from learning about the economy, social changes, technological advancements, music, and more.

The 80s were a time of great change and the music and culture from back then are still a major influence today!