Carbons to Computers

Historical Timeline 1980-1989

Decade overview

In November 1982, the unemployment rate reaches 10.8%, the highest rate since 1940. More than eleven million people are unemployed.

In 1984, the U.S. government takes steps toward a complete ban on leaded gasoline in order to reduce lead concentrations in the lower atmosphere.

In 1989, 7% of all U.S. workers use a computer at work.

Between 1973 and 1989, the average American's work-week jumps from less than forty-one to nearly forty-seven hours, and the average American's leisure time decreases 37%, from 26.2 hours to 16.6 hours per week.

In 1989, 147 thousand cases of cumulative trauma disorders (including carpal tunnel syndrome) are reported in the United States.

Corporate milestones

The French government launches Minitel, an experimental computerized telephone inquiry system consisting of terminals placed in homes
dBase II, a database software package, developed by Wayne Ratchif
Scripto disposable plastic automatic pencil introduced
Day Runner, Inc., manufacturer of time management systems, founded
IBM introduces a personal computer based on the Intel 8088 processor and using an operating system (DOS) developed by Microsoft
First portable computer with video monitor, disk drives, and processor unit mounted in a single box is built by Osborne
Notion of "laptop" computer is introduced with Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80, model 100
CD-ROM, an optical disk that can store up to 270,000 pages of typewritten information, introduced by Philips and Sony
Macintosh, a microcomputer with icons, a "mouse," and an intuitive user interface, introduced by Apple
AT&T (founded 1885) monopoly broken by the courts into smaller regional companies
Microsoft develops "Windows" for the IBM PC
Staples, first retail chain store to cater to small to mid-sized businesses, opens first outlet
Telephones become available on Japanese airliners; calls are relayed by satellite
First transatlantic optical fiber cable is laid; it can carry 37,800 voice channels
Scriptel introduces a method for inputting data into a computer by writing on a screen


1900-1909 || 1910-1919 || 1920-1929 || 1930-1939 || 1940-1949
1950-1959 || 1960-1969 || 1970-1979 || 1980-1989 || 1990-


This material was generously provided by the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

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