Inventions of the 1980s

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Inventions of the 1980s

The following article will take you through some of the most famous inventions of the 1980s. Continue reading for more information on this topic.

The Columbia was the first space shuttle that was launched on April 12, 1981. The shuttle returned home after 2 days and was able to give NASA valuable information about the design of the shuttle.

Things were invented and therefore we are able to enjoy them. I don’t think we even stop to think about what these inventions are because it has become an innate part of our daily lives. I don’t say we must keep thinking about these inventions every time we look at the TV screen or switch on the air conditioner or get the toaster out to make ourselves a sandwich, but one cannot deny the fact that the stories of how these inventions came to be are rather interesting. In this following Techspirited piece, we will focus on some such inventions of the 1980s and take you through their back stories.

The 80s was an interesting era that was witness to a lot of inventions. Each of these path-breaking inventions made life that much easier for mankind―so much so that we cannot even imagine our life without these gadgets or the other inventions. Of course, over time these inventions have been improved upon and newer and more advanced equipment have taken over, but the stories of where and how it all began makes it that much more interesting to read.

10 Best Inventions of the 80s

The 1980s were a time of the new awakening. Technology burst at its seams trying to make way and head for an era that would be dominated by machines, medicines, technology, and science. Here is a brief account of some of the most important inventions of this decade.

1. Apple Mackintosh, 1984

Old computer

The Apple Mackintosh was the first successful home computer. This was commercially successful because it was the first time that a mouse and a graphical user interface (GUI) were used. The Mac design was complete with a QuickDraw picture language and interpreter in 64 Kb of ROM. It had over 128 KB of RAM. The RAM was expendable to 512 KB. The final product’s screen was 9 inches, and it had a 512 x 342 pixel monochrome display. It was brought into the market on January 24, 1984.

2. CD-ROM, 1985


Compact Disc read-only memory (CD-ROM) was invented in 1985. It is a device that comes in the form of a pre-pressed compact disc and contains data that can be accessed but not written onto. It was released with the intention of feeding it with music, but later it was made into a form by which any binary data could be stored in it. It was used to transfer games and other computer software. There are certain CD types which hold only audio, while others can store audio, as well as data. The data CDs can be played only on computers, whereas the audio can be played on CD players as well.

3. Disposable Camera, 1986

First disposable camera

In 1949, a company called Photo-Pac introduced a cardboard camera that shot 8 exposures which were mailed in for processing. The expensive equipment and high cost incurred for taking pictures meant that the cameras could not be carried everywhere. Around the same time, H. M. Stiles invented a method whereby a 35mm film could be enclosed in a container without having to use the expensive equipment for transporting the film. However, the concept did not become popular.

In 1986, Fujifilm developed a disposable camera with their famous line Utsurun-Desu (It takes pictures). The Utsuran was released in 1986 in Japan for 1380 yen and it became widely popular. Due to its appeal, several major companies like Canon, Nikon, and Konica soon followed with their own designs. To stay in the competition, Fuji introduced varied features to their original design, which included waterproofing, panoramic photography, and the flash.

4. Mobile Phone, 1983

Old mobile phone

The mobile phone came about because businesses and consumers needed something that would make communication easier. Research in the area was hampered because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) placed restrictions on the allocation of frequencies. That was when AT&T introduced the ideas of a cellular system. With this new approach, it became easier to research and invent the mobile phone. Motorola launched the first phone, DynaTAC 8000x in 1983. It had the dimensions of 300 x 44 x 89mm and weighed about 785g. It had an LED display and allowed an hour of talk time.

5. Disposable Soft Contact Lenses, 1987

Disposable soft contacts

Even though soft contact lenses were invented in the 1970s, it was the invention of the disposable contact lenses in 1987 that revolutionized the eye industry. Disposable contact lenses improved upon the workings of the soft lenses and made the experience of wearing these much more convenient. Soft lenses allowed more air permeability and therefore made wearing these lenses that much easier. However, owning soft lenses was like owning glasses where they needed to be cared for regularly and special care had to be taken of the same―which meant that losing one was a costly affair. With the entry of the disposable lenses into the market this problem was solved. The convenience that it offered was unparalleled. These are available in daily, weekly, and monthly forms.

6. Hepatitis B Vaccine (DNA recombinant), 1986

Hepatitis vaccine

The Hepatitis virus is a disease that affects the liver and can lead to several complications, thus giving rise to several conditions like liver cancer, liver failure, and liver scarring―sometimes even death. That is why this invention by Baruch Blumberg in 1965 is considered a real breakthrough in the field of medicine. Baruch was an American research physician who discovered an antigen that released antibodies into the blood stream which worked against the hepatitis virus, particularly the Hepatitis B virus. In 1981, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a more sophisticated plasma-derived vaccine meant for human use but was discontinued a couple of years later. In 1986, a second generation of genetically engineered (DNA recombinant) hepatitis B vaccines became available. These are in use even today.

7. Artificial Human Heart

The first artificial heart was implanted into a man named Dr. Barney Clark on December 2, 1982. He survived for 112 days after that. The heart was created by Dr. Robert Jarvik and perfected over years of experimentation. The artificial heart’s shape and design were oval so that it would fit into the human chest. A blood compatible polyurethane was developed by a biomedical engineer Dr. Donald Lyman and a fabrication method was used which was developed by Kwan-Gett. This made the inside of the ventricles seamless and smooth such that it reduced the dangerous blood clots that are capable of causing strokes.

8. Prozac

Fluoxetine, more commonly known as Prozac, first became available in the year 1987. The drug was discovered and patented by Eli Lilly and Company in the 1970s and after the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)―nearly after a decade since it was first documented―it was marketed under the name Prozac. The FDA sanctioned its use for the treatment of major depressive disorder. The drug has been successfully used for the treatment of depression and obsessive compulsive disorder along with several other conditions like bulimia nervosa, panic disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. The drug was so popular, that the term ‘Prozac’ became synonymous with antidepressants in the 1990s.

9. DNA Fingerprinting

In 1984, British geneticist Alec Jeffreys was trying to trace genetic markers by using family generations, when he accidentally discovered that every person has a unique DNA profile. The unique genetic profiles are derived from the profiles of one’s parents, which means that lineage can be traced back through generations with DNA testing. Alec Jeffreys was knighted for his invention that changed the face of science forever. The world of forensic science owes its development to DNA fingerprinting.

10. Camcorder

The single unit camcorder revolutionized the way in which recording could be done. This it did by combining the recoding and voice functions in a camera. Before the invention of the camcorder in 1982 by Sony, a bulky camera with heavy equipment was used (most usually for recording news) and because the equipment was so heavy, it meant that video recording was essentially a two person job. So even if the video camera might have been light, the equipment to record the sound made the entire process very cumbersome.

The invention of this device eliminated the cable between the recorder and the camera and thereby increased the recording freedom. In 1983, the first consumer camcorder was released by Sony. This device, however, had to be mounted on the person’s shoulder because of the way in which it was designed.

Other Important Inventions

Some famous 80s inventions:

  • MS-DOS (1981)
  • Doppler radar (1988)
  • Apple Lisa (1983)
  • The RU-486 (abortion pill) (1988)
  • Windows operating system (1985)
  • Synthetic skin (1986)
  • First 3-D video game(1987)
  • Human growth hormone (1982)
  • High-definition television (1989)
  • Scanning tunneling microscope (1981)
  • Indiglo nightlight (1988)
  • The Columbia space shuttle (1981)

These were some inventions of the 1980s that really went about to change the world and make it into a place that we live in and love.

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