Back to the future: 1979-1989
All the themes

Science and technology

While developments in science and technology revealed new levels of human achievement, our impact on the environment cast a shadow.


'Computer love'

During the 1980s, the world of science became a domestic reality as computers and gadgets started to fill ordinary homes. This was the decade that gave us the mobile phone, compact discs (remember those), and the home computer. Analogue devices were increasingly replaced by digital screens, digital watches and pocket calculators. Bleeps and blips became the new soundtrack to people's lives, with new discoveries and products never far away.

It was also a decade that showed us the dangers of science, with chemical leaks, oil spills, ozone layer damage and nuclear reactor disasters all serving to demonstrate the potential harm humankind can cause to the planet. Diseases such as AIDS and 'mad cow disease' brought new challenges for scientists to address. And the Space Shuttle which captured the imaginations of millions when it first launched in 1981 was to break those hearts just five years later when one of the missions exploded 73 seconds after launch.

The contributors
Back to all themes