During the late 80s, as the decade of excess came to a close, there were political agreements, more technological advances, and enough entertainment to keep us occupied for at least another 10 years.
Late 80s politics
The end of the 1980s decade brought plenty of politics. George H. W. Bush was elected president in 1988, defeating Michael Dukakis, and was sworn in on January 20, 1989.
Another political highlight of 1989 was General Colin Powell becoming the first African-American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Later in 1989, after President Reagan urged Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” Germany finally decided to tear down the Berlin Wall. Citizens from both sides climbed up and over, celebrating their new freedom. The governments later removed what people didn’t tear down by hand and keep as souvenirs.
The United States and Canada signed a free trade agreement, Soviet military started leaving Afghanistan, and with the help of the UN, Iran and Iraq signed a peace agreement.
We all learned the Russian term for restructuring was perestroika, as the Soviet Union was in the news while it was restructuring politically and economically.
Late 80s Space and Technology
Flights resumed with the launch of Discovery in September 1988. In 1989, NASA sent an unmanned probe, Galileo, off to research Jupiter and its moons.
Microsoft released Works, and their shares eventually hit $100. By 1988, there were roughly 45 million computers in homes, while the World Wide Web was still just a proposal from Tim Berners-Lee, a computer scientist with a dream.
In 1988, Stephen Hawking published ‘A Brief History of Time,’ in which he explains black holes, the big bang, and other confusing facets of cosmology. Thankfully, it had diagrams.
We also saw a few great inventions, like the disposable contact lens, high-definition television, and Doppler radar.
Late 80s in Entertainment
Michael Jackson released Bad, another phenomenal album that topped the charts, and Madonna had another hit album with Like a Prayer.
Other players in the music industry were Bon Jovi, who was Slippery When Wet, George Michael had Faith, and Bobby Brown said Don’t be Cruel
Some performers such as Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, and the New Kids on the Block started quite a frenzy with their catchy tunes and had a large following of young girls.
Great new shows on television were 21 Jump Street, complete with Johnny Depp; A Different World, a spinoff of The Cosby Show; and the characters of Fraggle Rock were the new Muppets in town.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started taking over in the late 80s with an animated series and subsequently tons of products such as toys and T-shirts, as did The Simpsons.
The later part of the 80s decade also brought us a number of incredible movies that had people flocking to the theater like Dirty Dancing, Lethal Weapon, Dead Poets Society, When Harry met Sally, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
It was the end of a very busy decade, but the late 80s were still full of advances in technology, changes in government, and more than enough fun.
We were looking forward for whatever the 90s would bring. We were on the very edge of the World Wide Web, and more good news – our cell phones were finally getting smaller.