Can You Pass a 1980s Trivia Quiz?

By: John Miller

Can You Pass a 1980s Trivia Quiz?
Image: NASA

About This Quiz

From Madonna to Saddam Hussein to the Iran-Contra Affair to “Family Ties," the 1980s were a wild and crazy time in America and the world at large. The Internet was still to come, leaving TV and newspapers as a primary source of information. And absolutely no one had ever heard of Bluetooth. Do you think you have, like, the gnarly skills to beat our ‘80s quiz?

On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger lifted into the skies over America ... and then exploded into countless pieces, all on live television. The cataclysm scarred schoolchildren watching in classrooms across the country and marked a major turning point in the ‘80s — but it was just one of many impactful events. Can you name any of the other sad or euphoric events of the decade?

A crazed gunman tried to kill an American president in 1981 … and failed. But on the other side of the planet, Indira Ghandi was murdered by her own bodyguards, and her assassination had huge political ramifications all over the region. Can you name other weighty political events of the ‘80s?

The ‘80s are often noted for their crazy fads. From the Rubik’s Cube to Swatch Watches, and hair metal to the emergence of industrial rock and grunge, no one could escape '80s culture. Bright-colored clothing and big hair dominated all over America. Let’s find out if you know all of the big ‘80s trends.

Grab your hair spray and parachute pants and dive into our fun ‘80s quiz. We’ll find out if you’re totally radical, or if you’re just a dweeb who needs to get real!

Who was elected U.S. president in 1980?
Gerald Ford
Ronald Reagan
In November 1980, former Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan was elected as president. He won a second term and served until 1989.
Barack Obama

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Which popular teen-oriented cable TV channel launched in 1981?
Lifetime
MTV
In 1981, MTV started its run. The first music video it ever played? "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles.
Hallmark Channel

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In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to do what?
vote
fly a jet
go into space
In 1983, NASA’s Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, and the third in history, behind two Russian women (1963 and 1982).

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Which Sony product transformed music culture in 1980?
PlayStation
Walkman
Sony launched the Walkman cassette player in 1980. Suddenly, music was more mobile than it had ever been before.
Atari

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"Reaganomics" referred to what?
robots disguised as Republicans
'80s economic policies
Right after taking office, President Reagan began a series of new economic changes that became known as "Reaganomics." For instance, he lowered taxes in hopes of sparking more growth.
Cold War weapons

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What did ocean explorers finally locate in 1985?
blue whales
wreckage of the Titanic
In 1985, after decades of fruitless searches, the doomed ocean liner Titanic was finally found at the bottom of the North Atlantic. Many of its artifacts have been harvested for museum exhibits but the ship itself remains in its watery resting place.
Antarctica

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Which menu item did McDonald’s unveil in 1983?
McNugget
In 1983, McDonald’s launched Chicken McNuggets, which almost certainly contains chicken of some sort.
Big Mac
Whopper

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Which "Star Wars" movie was popular in 1980?
“Star Wars"
“The Empire Strikes Back"
On the heels of the original "Star Wars," 1980’s "The Empire Strikes Back" took the galaxy by storm, adding immensely to the "Star Wars" craze.
"Return of the Jedi"

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In 1989, the Tiananmen Square protests caused major tumult in which nation?
China
In 1989, young people in China marched for democracy, resulting in a confrontation at Tianenmen Square. Troops ultimately fired on protesters, massacring an unknown number of unarmed people.
South Korea
Guatemala

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Which music artist released an album titled "Thriller" in 1982?
Steven Tyler
Michael Jackson
In 1982, Michael Jackson’s "Thriller" sparked a musical uprising unlike anything since the Beatles. It is still the best-selling album in world history, with upward of 60 million copies sold.
Ringo Starr

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In 1983, President Reagan directed the phrase "evil empire" at which country?
Panama
USSR
In 1983, as part of the Cold War, Reagan called the USSR the "evil empire." As you can imagine, the Soviets were none too happy about this characterization.
North Korea

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Hollywood director John Hughes released a hugely successful film in 1984. Which movie was it?
“Sixteen Candles"
In 1984, Hughes found his fame increasing exponentially thanks to his film "Sixteen Candles," starring Molly Ringwald.
“Home Alone"
"Pretty in Pink"

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What sort of disaster occurred near Pripyat, Ukraine in 1986?
massacre
earthquake
nuclear accident
In April 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine malfunctioned, spewing radiation all over the area. The town of Pripyat is still abandoned due to radioactivity.

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How did President Reagan approach the so-called War on Drugs?
He ended the war.
He escalated the war.
During his time in office, Reagan drastically escalated the War on Drugs. His policies still reverberate in communites all over North America.
He avoided the topic at all costs.

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Which disease made headlines all over the world in the ‘80s?
Spanish flu
AIDS
In the 1980s, HIV and AIDS became recognized as a terrible health threat all around the globe. More than 40 million people have died from AIDS since doctors first noted it as an epidemic.
smallpox

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Which famous computer program was released for the first time in 1983?
Lotus Notes
Maze War
Microsoft Word
In 1983, Microsoft Word was released for the first time. And to this day, no one understand how to control bullets and indents.

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In 1987, what did President Reagan challenge Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to do?
arm wrestling competition
tear down a wall
Reagan continued ramping up his rhetoric during the Cold War. In 1987, he told Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!" He was referring to, of course, the Berlin Wall.
game of Scrabble

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What ill-fated product did Coca-Cola introduce in 1985?
Diet Coke
New Coke
With Pepsi grabbing huge shares of the soda market, Coca-Cola revamped its formula with New Coke, one of the most lambasted product moves in history. Coke Classic was back in the blink of a eye.
Cherry Coke

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Which gaming console was incredibly popular starting in 1983?
Sony PlayStation
Nintendo Entertainment System
The Nintendo Entertainment System hit the market in 1983. It helped to spread the joys of Super Mario Brothers across the planet for an entire generation.
Atari 5200

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In 1982, Argentina invaded the Falklands Islands, igniting a war with which country?
Chile
Britain
Argentina saw the Falklands (which lie just off of the country’s coast) as its territory, which is why it tried to seize the islands from Britain. The British immediately retaliated and repelled the Argentinians in a 10-week war.
Mexico

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What was the highest-grossing film of 1980?
“Rad"
“The Empire Strikes Back"
No other film could match the power of Luke Skywalker’s light saber. "The Empire Strikes Back" was 1980’s number one film. To date, it has earned around $540 million.
“Beverly Hills Cop"

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Which country suffered an unimaginable (and well-publicized) famine in the mid-80s?
Brazil
Haiti
Ethiopia
Poor political leadership in Ethiopia sparked a major famine. Hundreds of thousands of people died, particularly in the hard-struck northern areas of the country. Heart-wrenching TV commercials cried out for donations from the Western world.

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What was the name of an insanely popular toy of the ‘80s?
Furby
Cabbage Patch Kids
In the early ‘80s, plush toys called Cabbage Patch Kids sent Americans into a consumeristic feeding frenzy. All across the land, people came to blows trying to grab scarce dolls.
Bop It

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True or false, did the Cold War end in the 1980s?
true
false
The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 ... but the Cold War was still on. It finally ended with the collapse of the USSR in 1991.

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What was a hallmark of the Iran-Iraq War of the ‘80s?
the Holocaust
chemical warfare
The brutal Iran-Iraq War lasted for eight years, and during that time, Iraqi forces reportedly killed many Iranian troops (as well as Iraqi civilians) with chemical weapons.
nuclear bombs

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Which environmental problem was recognized by scientists in the ‘80s?
pink slime
global warming
Even back in the ‘80s, the scientific community realized that global warming was going to be a problem. It’s an environmental issue that now makes daily headlines around the world.
Agent Orange

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True or false, was the first Atari gaming console released in the ‘80s?
true
false
The legendary Atari console was not an ‘80s product. It was actually introduced in 1977.

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Which country fought a brutal (and futile) war in Afghanistan in the ‘80s?
Cuba
USSR
From ‘79 to ‘89, the USSR sought to subdue the Afghans in a futile war. Ultimately, the Soviets pulled out without having really accomplished much.
U.S.

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In 1981, a labor strike in which industry had a major impact on which industry?
airline
Air traffic controllers walked out on the job in 1981, snarling airline traffic all over the place. President Reagan responded by firing all of them and then banning them from federal work for life, although many workers worked around the ban with appeals.
nuclear
solar power

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In the ‘80s, Betamax fought with ____ in the consumer camcorder market.
BBS
VHS
In the ‘80s, consumer camcorders were a brand-new technology, one with competing formats called Betamax and VHS. VHS ultimately won out before the end of the decade.
CD

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