Inventions of the 80s

Imagine this: You’re at Cape Canaveral waiting to watch a Space Shuttle launch. You have a great view since you recently ditched your crappy glasses for brand new contacts. On your drive over to the coast you played through your new CD collection- Duran Duran, Madonna, Depeche Mode, and Aerosmith. On the way back you might listen to some Michael Jackson or Poison. If you’re feeling extra sullen, maybe you’ll put on The Cure or The Smiths. Hoping to capture the trip, you brought along a disposable camera, a cheap investment for life-long memories. Your mind drifts to your new PC sitting back at home. While you’re excited to see the shuttle launch, you’re also excited to peruse the manual of the PC you just bought. After all, you’re one of your first friends to finally get one. Now if only you could figure out how to type in commands to make it work…

Does this sound outdated? If it does–you’re right. This imaginary scene was set in the 80s. At the time, everything mentioned above was new to the market. Other inventions of the time included the nicotine patch, Prozac, HDTVs, DNA fingerprinting, and a (permanent) artificial heart.

In list form, here are 10 Inventions from the 80s and some of their details:


1. Space Shuttles
-“Orbiting scientific laboratory capable of hosting numerous experiments designed to increase our understanding of the universe.”
-Inspired by the lunar missions of the ’60s and ’70s
-First launch was Colombia on April 12, 1981
-There have been 130 launches since the first in April of 1981


2. Disposable Contact Lenses
-Made losing lenses less costly
-Lenses could be disposed of after one use; did not require regular cleaning and care like previous lenses


3. Compact Discs
-Revolutionized the music industry
-Easier to store than vinyl albums and did not degrade over time (like cassettes and 8 tracks)

DC 14

4. Disposable Cameras
-Cornered the tourism industry; perfect for traveling/travelers
-Cheap and easy to use. Taking photographs no longer required a huge investment.


5. Personal Computers (IBM and Macintosh)
-IBM was synonymous with personal computers in the 1980s; ancestor to the Windows-based PC used today
-Apple launched the Macintosh, the first personal computer to use a graphics-based user interface (used icons to represent programs and featured a mouse)
-Most computers required users to type in commands to launch programs

6. The Nicotine Patch
-Information regarding the negative effects of smoking reached the general public
-Helps smokers stop smoking
-Patent was requested after a scientist, Javick, discovered nicotine was the addictive ingredient in tobacco

7. Prozac
-Has helped millions of people deal with clinical depression
-Discovered and patented by Eli Lily and Company
-Popular treatment for depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

-Invention dates much earlier than first actual HDTV broadcasts
-First prototypes were Japanese
-US took a slow, cautious approach to adopting the system because of the impact it could have on the entire media market

9. DNA Fingerprinting
-British geneticist Alex Jeffreys realized every individual has an equally unique genetic sequence
-Forensic science was born out of genetic profiling
-“Accidental” discovery; Jeffreys was initially┬átrying to trace genetic markers through family generations; realized all human DNA was unique

10. The (Permanent) Artificial Heart
-Designed by engineers to be a permanent transplant instead of a [temporary] “stopgap measure”
-Called the “Jarvik-7”
-Required serious adjustments by the patient; home system was the size of a refrigerator and the portable system had a power unit roughly the size of a briefcase
-Similar model is still used today to keep patients alive while waiting for a human heart

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