A Lot's Changed Over The Past Four Decades


Can you believe that 1980 was over 40 years ago now? Like me, do you remember the election where Ronald Reagan won over incumbent Jimmy Carter? Not only was it unusual to beat the incumbent, but there was the 20-year curse we all talked about as well. And we remember that curse almost came true when President Reagan was shot. Luckily, he was not fatally injured, and went on to serve another term as well. Those eight years made him president for the majority of the 1980s. 

1. 'Miami Vice'

Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas put the "Miami" look into the mainstream back in the '80s. They played detectives Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs and James "Sonny" Crocket on the popular television show Miami Vice. But, of course, we all remember that. Did you remember that the show garnered a whopping 15 Emmy nominations in its first season? Legend has it that the show was conceptualized as MTV Cops. It was unlike any other police drama program in television history. Was it a show you watched regularly?

2. Monday Night Football With Howard Cosell

I wouldn't even say that I am a football fan. And I didn't grow up in a house where sports were a big deal. But even I knew who Howard Cosell was. He had a very distinct manner of speaking that is not easy to forget. I can still hear his voice in my head, all these years later. Did you grow up in a family of sports fans? If you did, then you surely remember this sports broadcaster from the '80s.

3. Polo Shirts

Pictured here in true '80s fashion are sportscasters Dick Enberg and Bud Collins. They were the team who voiced the 1982 Wimbledon Tennis Event. Remember how popular their look was back in the day? Sometime we called it the preppy look, and it always featured a polo shirt from Ralph Lauren or Lacoste, or a similar collared tee shirt with a couple of buttons. Of course, they came in every color of the rainbow, and they were typically a pique knit. Even women wore them in the '80s. Did you?

4. Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion

The original caption for this photo states: "The final moments of the Space Shuttle Challenger as it leaves the launch pad on January 28, 1986." 

5. '80s Hair

Yes, bigger was better in the '80s. This was clearly reflected in the hairstyles of the time. Everyone had big hair. And most of us had perms. Remember the awful smell and the hours sitting at the hair salon? I had a pretty short hair at the time, but I still had a perm so it would stand up! That's what we did back in the '80s. What was your look back then? Remember using big curling irons to get volume?

6. Final Episode Of 'M*A*S*H'

M*A*S*H was one of the most beloved television shows of all time. Its run started in the 1970s, but the finale was one of the biggest events of television in the 1980s. The two-hour finale aired in February 1983. The viewing audience was estimated at 121.6 million people. That's more than the Super Bowl that year. It remains the most watched finale of any TV series ever, and it was the most watched television program ever until the 2010 Super Bowl eclipsed it in total viewership. Did you watch this final episode?

7. Night-Time Dramas

Dallas premiered in the late '70s. By the early '80s, it was one of the most popular shows on television, And, it spawned a whole genre of night-time dramas like Dynasty and Knots Landing.

8. Madonna

Known as one of the most influential performers of all time, Madonna became famous not only as the "Queen of Pop," but also as an actress, author, and songwriter. She pushed the boundaries in just about every arena, and she constantly reinvented herself.

9. Interest Rates

The first house I bought in 1986 was pretty close to the height of double-digit interest rates. My friends bought a house about six months prior, and I'm pretty sure their interest rate was over 14 percent. So we were elated when we secured a rate of just over 13 percent. A few years later. we were able to refinance for around 12 percent. We were pretty sure at that time that it would never go any lower! Did you buy a house in the '80s when interest rates were crazy high?

10. Personal Computers

Here is the original caption for this photo: "Apple Macintosh computer, model M001, with keyboard and mouse. The Apple Macintosh was designed by Steve Jobs to be as 'user-friendly' as possible. Jobs wanted to produce an 'appliance computer' that clients could unpack, plug in and start to use with very little computer knowledge. It was also designed to use a graphical display rather than the standard text-based display previously used. The Mac was an instant success and continued to be popular as Jobs had ensured that plenty of computer software had been designed for use with the machine." 

11. Country Decor

Country decor was all the rage in the '80s interior design world. Everyone had oak furniture, and it was typically pretty heavy and clunky. The color palette that accompanied the look was often either blue or rose. And there were loads of calico prints, quilts, and muslin bunnies.

12. Working Out With Jane Fonda

Did you do workouts with Jane Fonda back in the 1980s? It sure seems like everyone did at the time. It was the first exercise video to top sales charts. In fact, it was the best-selling VHS tape for six years.

13. Cabbage Patch Doll Craze

How could any of us forget the craze surrounding Cabbage Patch dolls? People went nuts over them! There were riots in stores with consumers battling to get their hands on one. In 1982, Cabbage Patch sold a reported 3.2 million dolls. That's more than any other doll in history. And in 1984, the total sales for Cabbage Patch dolls and other related products was a record $2 billion in North America. Did you buy one of these highly coveted 1980s dolls? They could be worth thousands today!

14. Royal Wedding

Did you watch the fairytale wedding of Prince Charles and Diana? It seemed like everyone did. It was a huge event. And the whirlwind romance of the prince and his young, beautiful bride captured the imagination of the world.

15. VCRs

Back in the '80s, we all had a VCR. And we spent hours on Friday nights at the rental place picking out our weekend movies. Movie rental businesses started as mom and pop shops, but quickly got overtaken with large chains like Blockbuster that offered thousands of movie titles. They had everything from the latest releases to old classics. It was always a challenge getting everyone to agree on a couple of movies, right? But that's how we did movie nights in the 1980s.

16. Pac-Man

The '80s were all about the arcade. That was where young people were all hanging out. And games like Pac-Man were everywhere. Unlike today, when kids play video games on their own personal devices, back then people had to go somewhere to play their favorite games. Were you into video games back in the '80s? What was your favorite?

17. Big Hair Rock

Bon Jovi was just one of many popular '80s rock bands that sported big hair. Think Aerosmith, Foreigner, Journey, Guns N' Roses, White Snake, Kiss, ZZ Top, and Queen. And the list goes on. It wasn't just the girl bands with long hair! It was across the board in the '80s. Musicians had lots of hair. Who were your favorite bands in the '80s?

18. Leg Warmers

Remember when leg warmers were a must-have fashion accessory? And they weren't just for our Jane Fonda workouts. They were an everyday item that we wore with skinny jeans just as easily as over tights. Did you wear leg warmers back in the day?

19. Yuppies Replaced Hippies

The '60s and '70s were all about the hippies. The youth of the '80s replaced them with  "yuppies," or young urban professionals. There was a shift to consumerism, and young people couldn't get enough of upscale products like Ray-Ban sunglasses and status symbol cars. They pursued careers in large companies, with upwardly mobile opportunities. Plus, the '80s were when we began to see an upswing in consumer products in general.

20. AIDS

Another sad reality of life in the 1980s was AIDS. Do you remember when no one really knew what it was? People were suffering and dying, and finally they put a name to the disease: acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Rock Hudson was the first celebrity to die from AIDS in 1985. Fortunately, there are treatments now for HIV which can help prevent it from becoming AIDS.

21. Olympic Hockey Gold Medal For The United States

Who could forget Al Michaels exclaiming, "Do you believe in miracles?" Whether we were hockey fans or not, we all knew about the Olympic gold that the U.S. Hockey team took home in 1980. It's even been recreated in movie form a couple of times.

22. Chernobyl

In 1986, there was an explosion at the nuclear plant in Chernobyl. It was one of the scariest events of the 1980s. No one really knew what would happen as a result of the event. Do you remember when this took place?

23. Shoulder Pads

Sarah Jessica Parker has been a fashion icon for decades. And just look at those shoulder pads! We all had those in our blouses and jackets throughout the '80s. It's hard to imagine we thought that was a good look!

24. Break Dancing

Break dancing really took off in the 1980s. Everyone was trying to spin on their head and do all kinds of crazy tricks. And, of course, we remember the giant boom boxes that all the break dancers played music on!

25. Rubik's Cube

Remember the year that every single person in the United States that celebrates Christmas or Hanukkah got a Rubik's Cube? At least it sure seemed like it. Did your family have one? Could anyone solve it? I don't think anyone in my house ever did.

26. 'E.T.'

I was probably the one person in the 1980s who never saw E.T. I still haven't seen it, but I might as well have, because its legacy is just that far reaching. It even passed up Star Wars as the highest-grossing film of its time. Did you love E.T.?

27. 'Star Wars'

Two of the movies in the original Star Wars trilogy were released in the 1980s. But of course, we all remember that. The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980, and Return Of The Jedi was released in 1983. It's not something we can easily forget — after all, there have been so many prequels and sequels since. Were you a fan from the start?

28. 'Ghostbusters'

Who doesn't remember seeing Ghostbusters back in the 1980s? It's a cult classic, and people are still watching it today. When it was released in 1984, it was the highest-grossing comedy film up to that point. Can you still remember all the words to the song "Ghostbusters?" Most of us probably have it etched in our memory forever.

29. Cable TV

Cable television really took off in the '80s. And our lives would be forever changed by the sheer multitude of choices for programming. MTV, Nickelodeon, and countless other cable networks debuted in the 1980s. Remember watching all of the music videos on MTV? Remember seeing Michael Jackson's video for "Thriller"? It is generally regarded as the best music video of all time. It debuted on MTV on December 2, 1983.

30. Rockin' Eve

Remember New Year's Eve in the 1980s? Gone were the days of Guy Lombardo ringing in the New Year. In 1980, Rockin' New Year's Eve was hosted by Erin Moran of Happy Days and John Schneider of The Dukes of Hazzard. The show was produced by Dick Clark. He chose to showcase acts that represented popular artists of the previous year. Not only did the Village People (shown here)  perform in 1980, but Barry Manilow, Blondie, Chic, and The Oak Ridge Boys were selected for the New Year's bash that ushered in the new decade. Were they your favorite recording artists back in the '80s?