Think You Know the '80s? Here Are 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know

FRANKIE SAY RELAX

The 1980s was the era of new wave music, diagonal zippers, and zebra print tube tops. It all felt edgy and fashion-forward then, but all that stuff is over 40 years old today. Indeed, those whose teenage glory days were in the 1980s are getting AARP mailers and reminders from their gastroenterologists to schedule their routine colonoscopies.

Like any other bygone era, reflecting upon it will make you feel about a million years old, especially if FRANKIE SAY RELAX T-shirts and songs like "Mickey" and "Break My Stride" are still part of your living memory. Here are 10 facts about the 1980s that will remind you to take your fiber supplement and renew your subscription to Prevention magazine.

Rico Shen / Wikipedia
Rico Shen / Wikipedia

1. Motorola DynaTAC 8000X

The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X was the very first commercially available mobile phone, and when it was released to the public, it cost almost $4,000, took 10 hours to charge, and let you talk for about 30 minutes. Today, you can hardly go anywhere without hearing millions of people yelling into their phones, making one long for the time when they were prohibitively expensive.

Depositphotos.com
Depositphotos.com

2. Hey, Mickey! I’m 80!

In the earliest days of MTV, Toni Basil’s video for the song “Mickey” ran countless times a day, enhanced as it was by Basil and some cheerleaders leaping about athletically to the music. Basil somehow turned 80 on September 22, 2023, a number that's hard to get your head around if you were of age when the video was in high rotation. Of course, she was almost 40 back then, which was also hard to believe. So keep dancing! It’ll keep you young.

TheBugglesVEVO/YouTUBE
TheBugglesVEVO/YouTUBE

3. You remember music on MTV

 

On Aug. 1, 1981, MTV premiered in the United States, and the first video the fledgling network played was "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles. Forty-two years later, MTV has long since stopped being the place where people check out new music (or any music, for that matter), and if anything killed the radio star, it was Spotify.

Amazon.com
Amazon.com

4. ‘Thriller’

Sometimes, it's just as interesting to see what's lasted for decades as it is to puzzle over the long-forgotten artifacts. Despite being released 41 years ago in 1982, and despite some events that cost its creator a lot of goodwill, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" remains the best-selling album ever. It's hard to say precisely why it’s clung so tenaciously to the top spot, but the fact that it has speaks for itself.

Public Domain / Wikipedia
Public Domain / Wikipedia

5. New Coke

For reasons best known to them, the Coca-Cola company decided in 1985 to change the formula of its massively popular soft drink, dubbing the modern concoction “New Coke.” It was universally hated upon its release, and the company hurriedly started dispensing the old stuff within months. But 38 years later, those who remember it still shudder from the post-traumatic stress disorder that it induced.

 

20th Television Animation / IMDB
20th Television Animation / IMDB

6. ‘The Simpsons’

“The Simpsons” holds the distinction of being the longest-running animated series, sitcom, and scripted primetime series in the history of American television. It's still on today, so you may wonder what it's doing on a list aimed at Gen Xers in midlife crisis. To that, we say go back and watch one of the episodes from the time of its 1989 debut and marvel at the crude drawings, rudimentary voice work, and almost good-natured jokes. Seriously, it's like watching a completely different show.

 

IngaNielsen / iStock
IngaNielsen / iStock

7. Compact discs as luxury items

When compact discs were introduced in the 1980s, they were considered audiophile technology that only those listening to opera should spend $20 on, while the rest of the unwashed masses stuck to the crappy seven-dollar vinyl. Today, it's completely flipped, and vinyl is the luxury audiophile format, while those who might have been predisposed to buying compact discs sold them all off in the last decade, preferring subscription streaming services instead.

Amazon.com
Amazon.com

8. Madonna Louise Ciccone

Madonna released her debut album in 1983, and for those of you at home without calculators, that means it’s been 40 years since the album containing “Holiday,” “Borderline,” and “Lucky Star” was released. Today, at 65 years old, she’s known as the Queen of Pop, but those of us who were in some form of torturous orthodonture at the time remember her as that young lady in the crucifix and lingerie who gave Jerry Falwell the vapors.

 

Flickr / Carine06
Flickr / Carine06

9. The mullet

Business in the front, party in the back. That’s how the mullet hairstyle has been described by its proponents, apparently because “short in the front, long in the back” was too hard to remember. Most people born between 1965 and 1980 acknowledge that it was hideously ugly, but quite a few still wear it today for reasons that remain a mystery to modern science.

Wikipedia/Nick Rush-Cooper
Wikipedia/Nick Rush-Cooper

10. The possible end of the world

The nuclear accident at Chernobyl took place 37 years ago, in 1986, and while it was front-page news all over the world, a lot of young people at the time didn't understand the gravity of the situation, much less that it could have led to the extinction of the human race. In fact, many people who grew up in the 1980s didn't realize it was as bad as that until they watched the 2019 limited series "Chernobyl" on HBO.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

IMDb
IMDb

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