Portal:1980s

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1980s

The 1980s, spoken as "the Nineteen Eighties" or abbreviated as "the Eighties" or "the '80s", was the decade that began on January 1, 1980, and ended on December 31, 1989. This was the ninth decade of the 20th century.

The time period saw great social, economic, and general change as wealth and production migrated to newly industrializing economies. As economic liberalization increased in the developed world, multiple multinational corporations associated with the manufacturing industry relocated to Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, and the People's Republic of China. Developed countries such as the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, and West Germany continued to enjoy rapid economic growth during the decade. Glasnost and Perestroika in the Soviet Union, and the fall of the Berlin Wall, paved the way for its dissolution in the early 1990s, and transition from the bipolar world of the Cold War.

The 80s also represented a significant technological and cultural transition, as computing expanded from a primarily business and academic phenomenon into the home with the advent of the personal computer, accompanied by the growth of the software industry, ultimately paving the way for the World Wide Web on the Internet.

Selected article

Comet 1P/Halley as taken March 8, 1986 by W. Liller.
Halley's Comet or Comet Halley, officially designated 1P/Halley, is a short-period comet visible from Earth every 75–76 years. Halley is the only known short-period comet that is clearly visible to the naked eye from Earth, and the only naked-eye comet that might appear twice in a human lifetime. Halley last appeared in the inner parts of the Solar System in 1986 and will next appear in mid-2061.

Halley's returns to the inner Solar System have been observed and recorded by astronomers since at least 240 BC. Clear records of the comet's appearances were made by Chinese, Babylonian, and medieval European chroniclers, but were not recognized as reappearances of the same object at the time. The comet's periodicity was first determined in 1705 by English astronomer Edmond Halley, after whom it is now named.

During its 1986 apparition, Halley's Comet became the first comet to be observed in detail by spacecraft, providing the first observational data on the structure of a comet nucleus and the mechanism of coma and tail formation. These observations supported a number of longstanding hypotheses about comet construction, particularly Fred Whipple's "dirty snowball" model, which correctly predicted that Halley would be composed of a mixture of volatile ices – such as water, carbon dioxide, and ammonia – and dust. The missions also provided data that substantially reformed and reconfigured these ideas; for instance, now it is understood that the surface of Halley is largely composed of dusty, non-volatile materials, and that only a small portion of it is icy.

Selected picture

Atari 5200 game console with Pac Man game cartridge.
Credit: Daniel McConnell

Atari 5200 game console with Pac Man game cartridge.

Selected biography

General Secretary of the CPSU CC M. Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman. He was the eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991 when the party was dissolved. He served as the country's head of state from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991 (titled as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1988 to 1989, as Chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990, and as President of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991). He was the only general secretary in the history of the Soviet Union to have been born after the October Revolution.

Gorbachev was born in Stavropol Krai into a peasant UkrainianRussian family, and in his teens operated combine harvesters on collective farms. He graduated from Moscow State University in 1955 with a degree in law. While he was at the university, he joined the Communist Party, and soon became very active within it. In 1970, he was appointed the First Party Secretary of the Stavropol Regional Committee, First Secretary to the Supreme Soviet in 1974, and appointed a member of the Politburo in 1979. Within three years of the death of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, following the brief "interregna" of Andropov and Chernenko, Gorbachev was elected General Secretary by the Politburo in 1985.

Gorbachev's policies of glasnost and perestroika and his reorientation of Soviet strategic aims contributed to the end of the Cold War. He removed the constitutional role of the Communist Party in governing the state, and inadvertently led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He was awarded the Otto Hahn Peace Medal in 1989, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 and the Harvey Prize in 1992, as well as honorary doctorates from various universities.


Did you know...

that NetHack was originally released in 1987?
...that NetHack was originally released in 1987?
Other "Did you know" facts... Read more...

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