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

Stanislaw Jewgrafowitsch Petrow receiving the Dresden Prize
1983 Soviet nuclear false alarm incident - On 26 September 1983, the nuclear early warning system of the Soviet Union twice reported the launch of American Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles from bases in the United States. These missile attack warnings were correctly identified as a false alarm by Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov, an officer of the Soviet Air Defence Forces. This decision is seen as having prevented a retaliatory nuclear attack based on erroneous data on the United States and its NATO allies, which would have likely resulted in nuclear war and the deaths of hundreds of millions of people. Investigation of the satellite warning system later confirmed that the system had malfunctioned.

The incident occurred at a time of severely strained relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Only three weeks earlier, the Soviet military had shot down a South Korean passenger jet, Korean Air Lines Flight 007, that had strayed into Soviet airspace, killing all 269 people on board.

Bruce Blair, an expert on Cold War nuclear strategies and former president of the World Security Institute in Washington, D.C., says the American–Soviet relationship at that time "had deteriorated to the point where the Soviet Union as a system—not just the Kremlin, not just Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, not just the KGB—but as a system, was geared to expect an attack and to retaliate very quickly to it. It was on hair-trigger alert. It was very nervous and prone to mistakes and accidents. The false alarm that happened on Petrov's watch could not have come at a more dangerous, intense phase in U.S.–Soviet relations." In an interview aired on American television, Blair said, "The Russians [Soviets] saw a U.S. government preparing for a first strike, headed by a President [Ronald Reagan] capable of ordering a first strike." Regarding the incident involving Petrov, he said, "I think that this is the closest our country has come to accidental nuclear war."

On 26 September 1983, Stanislav Petrov, a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Air Defense Forces, was the officer on duty at the Serpukhov-15 bunker near Moscow which housed the command center of the Soviet early warning satellites, code-named Oko. Petrov's responsibilities included observing the satellite early warning network and notifying his superiors of any impending nuclear missile attack against the Soviet Union. If notification was received from the early warning systems that inbound missiles had been detected, the Soviet Union's strategy was an immediate nuclear counter-attack against the United States (launch on warning), specified in the doctrine of mutual assured destruction.

Selected picture

People atop the Berlin Wall near the Brandenburg Gate on 9 November 1989
Credit: Sue Ream

People atop the Berlin Wall near the Brandenburg Gate on 9 November 1989.

Selected biography

Rob Halford from Judas Priest in 1984
Robert John Arthur "Rob" Halford (born 25 August 1951) is an English singer and songwriter, who is best known as the lead vocalist for the Grammy Award-winning heavy metal band Judas Priest and famed for his powerful wide ranging operatic voice. AllMusic says of Halford: "There have been few vocalists in the history of heavy metal whose singing style has been as influential and instantly recognizable", possessing a voice which is "able to effortlessly alternate between a throaty growl and an ear-splitting falsetto". Halford was voted number 33 in the greatest voices in rock by Planet Rock listeners in 2009. In addition to his work with Judas Priest, he has been involved with several side projects, including Fight, 2wo and Halford.

Halford was born in Sutton Coldfield, but raised in Walsall, a town to the northwest of Birmingham in England's West Midlands. His early influences included soul screamers, such as Little Richard, Janis Joplin and Robert Plant. He sang for numerous bands including Athens Wood, Abraxas, Thark and Hiroshima.


Did you know...

...that the first Laser tag arena opened in 1984?
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