What it was like Growing Up in the Eighties (1980s)
  • Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

80s Culture and Events

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I am a child of the eighties. When I got home from school, I played with my Atari 2600. I got up on Saturday mornings to watch bad Hanna-Barbera cartoons. I hung out at the roller rink and arcade on weekends. I still can’t solve a Rubik’s cube. I still stream and watch classic 80s TV shows and Movies. Ronald Reagan was cool. I drank Dr. Pepper. “I’m a Pepper, you’re a Pepper, wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?” The world stopped when the Challenger exploded. We are still children of the eighties.

Fashion of the 1980s

Fashion of the 1980s placed heavy emphasis on cheap clothes and fashion accessories. Apparel tended to be very bright and vivid in appearance. Hair in the 1980s was typically big, curly, bouffant and heavily styled. 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, jumpsuits, Members Only jackets, skin-tight acid-washed jeans, leggings, leg warmers, parachute pants, off-the-shoulder shirts, and cut sweatshirts. Miniskirts made a dramatic comeback in the mid-1980s. Makeup on the 1980s was aggressive, shining and colorful. Women emphasized their lips, eyebrows and cheeks with makeup. They used much blush and eyeliner. Girls and women also wore jelly shoes, large crucifix necklaces, and brassieres all inspired by Madonna. Additional trends of the 1980s include athletic headbands, Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses.

Sports highlights from the 1980s


Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were two of the most popular NBA players of the 1980s. 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.

In the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers became the dynasty of the decade, winning four Super Bowls under the leadership of Joe Montana; the Chicago Bears won Super Bowl XX; the Washington Redskins won two Super Bowls.

The Philadelphia Phillies won their first World Series championship in 1980, the Kansas City Royals win their first World Series championship in dramatic fashion in 1985, the New York Mets win their second World Series championship in 1986 in dramatic fashion, the Minnesota Twins win their first World Series in 1987, and both the 1988 and 1989 World Series be remembered as Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series home run and the Earthquake.

The 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow were disrupted by a boycott led by the United States and 64 other countries in protest of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The 1980 Winter Olympics were well remembered for the Miracle on Ice, where a young United States hockey team defeated the heavily favored Soviet Red Army team and went on to win the gold medal.

The Jamaica national bobsled team received major media attention and stunned the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics.

On November 26, 1986, Mike Tyson became the youngest boxing Heavyweight Champion in history at age 20.

On March 31, 1985, the WWF presented the first WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Video Gaming and Technology in the 1980s

Arcades were wildly popular in the 1980s. Hanging out at the mall’s, roller rink’s or bowling ally’s arcade on weeknights was a popular pastime for teens and pre-teens. Popular video games included: Pac-ManSuper Mario Bros.The Legend of ZeldaDonkey KongFroggerTetris, and Pac-Man (1980). Handheld electronic LCD games was introduced into the youth market segment. Popular video game consoles in this 80s included the continuing popularity of Atari 2600, Intellivision, Colecovision, Sega Master System and Nintendo’s Entertainment System (NES). Popular home computers in the 80s included the Commodore 64, the Apple II series, Amiga, ZX Spectrum and MSX. Apple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows and IBM PC compatible were also introduced in that decade and helped popularize personal computers. Based on earlier work from 1980,  the World Wide Web concept was formalized by 1989 and performed its earliest demonstrations in December 1990.

Prominent Events in the 1980s

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.

Mount St. Helens volcano erupted in Washington, U.S. on May 18, 1980, killing 57 people.

On January 28, 1986, the NASA Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated 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.

Musician and former member of the Beatles John Lennon was assassinated in New York City on December 8, 1980.

Ronald Reagan was shot in Washington, D.C. on March 30, 1981, by John Hinckley.