Readers - Please Note
The article on the personal stereo has now been updated with new material - a magazine advertisement for the Sony Stowaway, the UK's very first personal stereo, from its launch in 1980. The update can be found here -
Was it simply "The Greed Decade" as many like to claim? I think not - the '80s saw the emergence of yuppies, but also Red Wedge, the Greenham Common Peace Women, and increasing concern for the environment. It may be convenient to scapegoat the '80s as the cause of all known ills, but the reality of the decade was far different - absolute bedlam, as Right fought Left, idealism fought corporate ambition. The election of Ronald Reagan as American President in 1980, and his second victory in 1984, had a far more decisive effect on the international political landscape than the three successive general election victories of UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1979, 1983 and 1987.
Fashion came fast and furious - deelyboppers, ra ra skirts with lycra leggings, Swatch watches, pixie boots, jelly shoes, shoulder pads, blonde highlights, hair gel, hair mousse, men in pink, goths, shell suits, New Romantics, donkey jackets, leg warmers...
Musically, the 1980s saw the beginnings of House Music, the exciting and still evolving world of synths taking centre stage, the evolvement of Rap music into the fully-fledged Hip Hop scene, Band Aid and Live Aid, great Indie, startling Acid House, and Raves...
And there was so much more! The decade truly had something for everyone - and provided a welcome escape for a while from the long-running and boring saga of flared trousers as fashion, begun back in the 1960s!
The 1980s also saw the creation of The Simpsons, Twin Peaks, and other wonderful (often groundbreaking) American TV shows like Kate & Allie, Cheers, The Golden Girls, Married... With Children, The Cosby Show, Roseanne, and Hill Street Blues.
The '80s gave us some wonderful UK TV ads. Remember Ted Moult advertising double glazing at the Tan Hall Inn with "Fit The Best - Everest"? Remember the Weetabix gang? Remember the Scotch video tape skeleton ("Re-record, not fade away"?). Remember the romantic yuppie couple in the coffee ads? And what about "Lotta Bottle"?
In fact, the '80s totally transformed our telly viewing, bringing us Channel 4 and Sky TV.
The '80s were a fascinating time for science and technology! Video recorders became widespread, the Sony Walkman arrived, the first hand-held mobile phones hit the streets (expensive analogue bricks!), the ZX Spectrum, Game Boy and the World Wide Web (Thanks, Sir Tim Berners-Lee!) were invented, the first computer mouse eeked its way into our homes and Sir Alec Jeffreys accidentally discovered DNA fingerprinting. It's all here!