The 1980s: 35 Facts That Will Take You Back in Time

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1Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur

In 1985, the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore held a youth rap contest. The winner was a 14-year-old boy named Tupac Shakur.


2. In 1984, the New Zealand Prime Minister Robert Muldoon got drunk and decided to spontaneously call a general election, which he lost.


3. When President Ronald Reagan was admitted to a hospital in 1981 due to being shot by John Hinckley Jr., he joked “Please tell me you're all Republicans,” to which a surgeon who was a liberal democrat himself replied, “We're all Republicans today.”


4. During the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, education about the disease was limited for political reasons. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop ended up infuriating members of both parties after he ordered that every home in America be mailed a letter explaining what AIDS was and how to protect themselves from it.


5. American photographer Robert Landsburg while filming Mount St. Helens volcano eruption in 1980 realized that he wouldn’t survive it, so he rewound the film back into its case, put his camera in his backpack, and then lay himself on top of the backpack to protect the film for future researchers.


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6The Noid

The Noid

In the 1980s, Domino’s Pizza ran a campaign centered around a cartoon character named “The Noid.” It was discontinued in 1989 after a mentally ill man named Kenneth Noid took employees of an Atlanta Domino's restaurant hostage after he thought the ads were a personal attack on him.


7. In 1987, a man named Arthur Shawcross, who was convicted of raping and murdering both a 10-year-boy, and an 8-year-old girl, was released from prison after only 12 years served for “good behavior.” He went on to commit 12 more murders.


8. In 1985, Burger King launched a viral ad campaign featuring 'Herb the Nerd', a mysterious man who had never eaten a Whopper in his life. People could get a 99 cent Whopper by saying "I'm Not Herb", or if their name was Herb, "I'm not the Herb you're looking for."


9. In 1984, a young boy named Andy Smith wrote a letter to Ronald Reagan asking for federal funds to clean his bedroom after his mother called it a "disaster area."


10. 1983 blockbuster movie WarGames (featuring Matthew Broderick) caused President Reagan to ask national security officials if this type of “hacking” was possible to which General Vessey replied “The problem is much worse than you think.” This influenced national security policy, ARPAnet, and ultimately the modern Internet.


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11Scott Weiland

Scott Weiland

In 1986, Scott Weiland met bassist Robert DeLeo at a Black Flag concert in Long Beach, California. Two of them were discussing their love interests, when they realized they were both dating the same girl. They developed a bond over the incident, and ended up forming their rock band ‘Stone Temple Pilots.’


12. In 1981, Harvard professor Roger Fisher proposed implanting nuclear launch codes in a volunteer so that the President would have to kill an innocent person before starting the impersonal killing of millions. The Pentagon rejected the idea fearing the President would not go through with it even if it was necessary.


13. In the 1980s, the Naval Investigative Service undertook a massive and futile search for a woman named “Dorothy” in the Chicago area, after hearing gay men refer to themselves as “friends of Dorothy.” They believed that she was at the center of a ring of gay military personnel.


14. During the 1988 purges in Iran, women were lashed for missing their daily prayers. When one woman died after 22 days and 550 lashes, the authorities certified her death as suicide because it was 'she who had made the decision not to pray'.


15. In 1987, there were only 22 California Condors left on the planet. All of them were caught to help preserve the species. As of December 2016, there were 446 condors living in wild or in captivity.


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16Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie Lee Curtis

In 1987, an American actress named Jamie Lee Curtis invented and patented a diaper modification, which had a moisture proof pocket containing wipes for easy access. She refused to allow it to be marketed until companies started selling biodegradable diapers. The patent expired in 2007 and it is now in the public domain.


17. In 1986, the United Way released 1.5 million balloons in Cleveland as a publicity stunt. It clogged the land and waterways of North East Ohio, shut down an airport runway, and forced the Coast Guard to suspend a search and rescue of 2 men who ended up drowning.


18. In 1985, Edward Johnson programmed his computer to call Jerry Falwell's (American Pastor) toll-free number every 30 seconds and then hang up. In total, he charged over $500,000 in phone bills to Falwell's organization.


19. On 23 August 1989, around 2 million people joined hands in a human chain that stretched 600 kilometres across the 3 Baltic countries, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. They did this to protest their countries’ forced inclusion in the Soviet Union.


20. In 1981, Ronald Reagan fired 11,345 air traffic controllers after they refused to end their strike and subsequently banned them from federal service for life.


21The Diary of A Young Girl

The Diary of A Young Girl

An Alabama school tried to ban 'The Diary of A Young Girl' by Anne Frank in 1983 because, according to the board's records, it was "a real downer."


22. Studio Ghibli adopted a strict 'no edits' policy after a disastrous 1985 dub of 'Nausica of the Valley of the Winds'. On hearing Miramax would later try editing Princess Mononoke to make it more marketable, Studio Ghibli sent an authentic katana with a simple message: "No cuts".


23. In 1985, a doctor named John Story in Lovell, Wyoming was convicted of sexually assaulting patients for over 25 years. One of the reasons he was able to get away with it for so long was that many of his victims were strict Mormons and didn't know what a proper pelvic exam, or even sex, felt like.


24. In 1982, as a protest against actions by the United States federal government, Key West in Florida seceded from and then declared war on the United States, surrendered one minute later and then applied for $1 billion in foreign aid.


25. In 1980, a Centaur skeleton was assembled using the remains of a human and Shetland pony, then displayed as a real artifact in order to challenge student skepticism

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