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30 things turning 30 in 2019

Life moves so quickly that it feels like the years go by in the blink of an eye. It’s hard to believe the following 30 cultural icons will hit three decades in 2019. From the whimsical to the horrific, here’s what is turning the big 3-0 this year.

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1. The Simpsons
1. The Simpsons
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Ay Caramba! Bart Simpson and his fam made their series debut on FOX on December 17, 1989.

The animated sitcom created by Matt Groening began as a series of shorts incorporated into The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. 

The Simpsons is the longest running American sitcom with more than 650 episodes to date.

Not bad for a ragtag bunch from Springfield, however they are not too good at settling family disputes. Sometimes a little more than tact and delicacy is necessary to resolve family issues.

2. The fall of the Berlin Wall
2. The fall of the Berlin Wall
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It took 38 years, but in 1989 the Berlin Wall, which separated East and West Germany, came tumbling down as the Cold War began to thaw.

It was November 9, 1989, to be exact that East Berlin’s Communist Party said at midnight their citizens were allowed to cross the border.

According to History.com, more than 2 million East Berliners flocked to the checkpoints that once held them back to visit West Berlin that weekend.

For some, it's hard to believe the Berlin Wall even existed. It's even harder to believe these 11 events shaped history as we know it

3. GPS
3. GPS
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We often take GPS (Global Positioning System) navigation for granted.

It’s so easy to bring up directions on our phones, we don’t even need a separate device for guidance on the road anymore.

But it was February 14, 1989, that the first of 24 satellites to make up the global positioning system was put into orbit.

Using the GPS on your phonecan be a handy life saver. It can also suck all your data and become an expensive exercise. 

From charging the battery faster to taking a hands-free photo, these are the secret iPhone hacks you wish you knew about sooner.

4. America’s Funniest Home Videos
4. America’s Funniest Home Videos
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What could be more hilarious than watching people do downright silly things in the comfort of their own home while a friend or family member captured it on camcorder?

Comedian Bob Saget hosted the first America’s Funniest Home Videos special in 1989 before it went to series in 1990.

Saget continued to host the show for its initial eight seasons. 

Funny home videos used to be the bread and butter of television but they are now perfect fodder for Facebook. 

Follow our expert tips to avert your own Facebook faux pas and improve your social media encounters.

5. Seinfeld
5. Seinfeld
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The self-proclaimed “show about nothing” became a whole lot of something… but not right away.

Initially called The Seinfeld Chronicles when it premiered in 1989, the show wasn’t well received at first, according to Entertainment Weekly.

But it wasn’t long before fans caught on to the antics of Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer.

One thing Seinfeld offered were characters chock full of neuroses, phobias and eccentricities. Are these conditions normal?

6. Baywatch
6. Baywatch
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Yes, Baywatch, with its revolving cast of sightly lifeguards, turns 30 this year.

It was September 22, 1989, that Lt. Mitch Buchannon and his team hit the beach in Malibu, perfecting the slow-mo run on the sand that is still parodied in other TV shows and movies to this day.

The series aired until May 14, 2001. 

7. Batman
7. Batman
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The comic book superhero had, of course, already been around for decades, but Batman first hit the big screen in 1989.

Michael Keaton took the first stab at playing the man who keeps Gotham City’s Caped Crusader.

Actors Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and Ben Affleck have played Batman in subsequent films.

The 1989 film was directed by Tim Burton.

8. Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”
8. Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”
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The Material Girl has never been one to shy away from controversy, but her 1989 single “Like a Prayer” put her in hot water with a number of religious organizations and even PepsiCo.

The problem?

The video for the track featured burning crosses and stigmata, angering many. Pepsi paid the pop star to use “Like a Prayer” in a television commercial, but the negative attention turned the deal sour. 

9. The World Wide Web
9. The World Wide Web
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Can you imagine a time without access to the world wide web?

Its very existence goes back 30 years when Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist, was credited with inventing it.

Berners-Lee put his thoughts on paper in a proposal titled Information Management. Interestingly, the proposal was not initially accepted.

Thankfully the concept moved forward otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this right now.

10. Game Boy
10. Game Boy
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Kids today have a slew of personal devices to choose from when it comes to playing video games, but back in 1989 Nintendo’s debut of the Game Boy was cutting edge.

Released in the United States in July of that year, the handheld device was packaged with the highly-addictive game Tetris.

It used an 8-bit Z80 processor with a monochrome LCD display and 4-channel stereo sound to make gaming on the go a reality. 

11. Doogie Howser, M.D.
11. Doogie Howser, M.D.
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A kid so smart he aced his way through college and medical school before he could drive? Get out of here!

But that was the premise of Doogie Howser, M.D., which made a star out of Neil Patrick Harris.

The series only aired for four seasons on ABC but its impact on pop culture left an indelible mark.

12. New Kids on the Block’s Hangin’ Tough
12. New Kids on the Block’s Hangin’ Tough
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Whether you loved ’em or ‘hated ’em in the late ’80s and early ’90s, New Kids on the Block were the “it” boy band of a certain generation.

This year their sophomore album, which really put them on the pop music map, Hangin’ Tough celebrates 30 years.

NKOTB is commemorating its release with a special reissue for fans who continue to have “The Right Stuff.”

13. Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings”
13. Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings”
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Some might argue that there’s no greater power ballad than “Wind Beneath My Wings,” the Bette Midler hit that appeared in the tear-inducing film Beaches.

But Midler was actually the third singer to record the song.

It was initially recorded by Lou Rawls in 1983, as well as country singer Gary Morris that same year.

However, Midler is the artist most associated with “Wind Beneath My Wings” and the only singer to send it straight to No. 1 on the Billboard charts.

14. Milli Vanilli’s 'Girl You Know It’s True'
14. Milli Vanilli’s 'Girl You Know It’s True'
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Believe it or not, it has been 30 years since Milli Vanilli appeared on the music scene, scoring hits like “Girl You Know It’s True,” the title track off of their debut album released on March 7, 1989.

Sadly the duo became less known for the infectious tracks as they did for the controversy that surrounded them.

As it turns out members Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan didn’t sing a lick on the songs, instead lip-syncing to another artist’s voice.

15. Cops
15. Cops
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Before there was Live P.D. there was Cops, which premiered in 1989.

Showing the day-to-day of real-life law enforcement officers, Cops became an instant hit for FOX.

It’s theme song “Bad Boys” also became a hit for the reggae band Inner Circle, eventually hitting No. 7 on the Billboard Top 40. Cops is still airing today.

16. Saved By the Bell
16. Saved By the Bell
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It was August 20, 1989, when Zack Morris and his pals at Bayside High hit the small screen on NBC in the iconic teen series Saved By the Bell.

Airing for five seasons, the show was followed by Saved By the Bell: The College Years and Saved By the Bell: The New Class (which interestingly ran for seven seasons, even longer than its predecessor). 

17. Disney’s The Little Mermaid
17. Disney’s The Little Mermaid
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Considered as the film that put the Walt Disney Company back on the animation map, The Little Mermaid grossed over $111M in the United States alone upon its release in November 1989.

After a series of lackluster animated releases, the Mouse House was thrilled with the film’s success.

According to Disney Wiki, Walt Disney had actually intended for The Little Mermaid to be one of his earliest releases, but it was put on hold after Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

18. Ted Bundy’s execution
18. Ted Bundy’s execution
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Blamed for dozens of murders across Washington, Colorado, Utah, and Oregon, it was the murder of a 12-year-old Florida girl that finally sent serial killer Ted Bundy to death row.

On January 24, 1989, he was executed via electric chair in the state of Florida.

This year Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee has planned a display they say will “shed light on the private side of the notorious killer that haunted the country until his death.”

19. Driving Miss Daisy
19. Driving Miss Daisy
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Winner of the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture in 1990, Driving Miss Daisy hit movie theaters on December 13, 1989.

Starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman, the dramedy tells the story of the unlikely friendship that emerges between a fiercely independent Jewish widow and her African-American chauffeur, paired together after Miss Daisy is involved in a car accident.

20. Steel Magnolias
20. Steel Magnolias
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Bust out the tissues if you want to re-watch Steel Magnolias upon its 30th anniversary.

The family drama starring Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, Daryl Hannah, and Shirley MacLaine still tugs at the heartstrings to this day.

The film earned Roberts a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. 

21. Microsoft Office
21. Microsoft Office
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Some computer programs become as much a part of our day-to-day as the very limbs that are attached to our body. For those of us spending hours at a keyboard each day, Microsoft Office is likely one of them.

According to TIME, the first official version of the Microsoft Office collection of desktop applications (including Excel, Powerpoint, and Word) was released in 1989 for the Mac.

How did we get anything done before then?

22. Do the Right Thing
22. Do the Right Thing
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Spike Lee’s racially-charged film Do the Right Thing, starring Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, and Ruby Dee, headed into theaters on June 30, 1989.

It follows the drama and violence that unfolds in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood on the hottest day of the year.

Critics of the film felt that Lee’s portrayal of race relations would incite anger and violence from black audiences, according to History.com, which did not turn out to be the case. 

23. The Galileo spacecraft
23. The Galileo spacecraft
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On October 18, 1989, the Galileo spacecraft was launched in an effort to study Jupiter and its “mysterious moons,” according to NASA.

While it did just that, it also provided the only direct observations of a comet colliding with a planet. It was also the first spacecraft to visit an asteroid.

Its mission ended in 2003.

24. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
24. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
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“Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.” Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, released on February 17, 1989, made ’80s kids look at convenience store parking lots a lot differently.

Starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, the fantastical comedy took audiences through a history lesson in a most bizarre fashion, turning it into a cult classic.

25. Exxon Valdez oil spill
25. Exxon Valdez oil spill
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Not something anyone wants to commemorate, the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred 30 years ago on March 24, leaving 11 million gallons of crude oil in Prince William Sound.

At the time this was the largest oil spill in U.S. history, costing Exxon billions in fines and cleanup costs, according to the Atlantic.

26. When Harry Met Sally
26. When Harry Met Sally
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Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal captivated audiences in When Harry Met Sally, which was an instant hit among moviegoers in July 1989.

The story of two unlikely friends turned lovers who experienced years of bad romantic luck was packed with memorable scenes, like the often-parodied lunch between Harry and Sally at a New York deli.

Ryan and Crystal weren’t the first casting choices to play the lead characters.

Albert Brooks, Elizabeth Perkins, Molly Ringwald, and Elizabeth McGovern were all considered but didn’t work out for various reasons.

27. Sega Genesis
27. Sega Genesis
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The Sega Genesis celebrates three decades and was considered the pioneer of the 16-bit video game era.

Prior to its launch in 1989, gaming consoles had 8-bit features.

According to Lifewire, the Genesis did well at retail but still didn’t steal the gaming scene from Nintendo which continued to dominate the North American market.

Hey, at least we have the Genesis to thank for Sonic the Hedgehog.

28. Tiananmen Square protests
28. Tiananmen Square protests
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Pro-democracy protesters, many of whom were students, flocked to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to make their voices heard.

In a shocking turn of events, on June 4, 1989, the Chinese government instructed troops to storm the square, killing and arresting thousands of protesters.

While some students fought back, others tried to flee the scene, getting caught in a melee that cost a tremendous number of lives. 

29. The Joy Luck Club
29. The Joy Luck Club author Amy Tan
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Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club was released in 1989 to critical acclaim.

The story of four Chinese American immigrant families living in San Francisco didn’t start out as a best-seller.

Its publisher, Putnam, was cautious with its initial printing, according to Publisher’s Weekly, using three printings to reach the publication-date figure of 25,000 copies.

In 1993, the book was adapted into a major motion picture for the big screen.

30. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
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Stephen Covey’s business and self-help book was initially published in 1989, creating a flurry of interest around the genre.

It has sold more than 25 million copies internationally. Interestingly, the audio version of 7 Habits became the first non-fiction audiobook in U.S. history to sell more than a million copies. 

This article first appeared on RD.com.



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