In 2019 we celebrate the thirtieth Birthday of the humble MX-5, one of the small handful of cars that can quite rightly claim to have changed the world.
The MX-5 took the concept of the light-hearted English sports car and mixed it with legendary Japanese integrity of design, quality and durability. Finally, here was a true sports car without compromise.
It’s one of the reasons that in the three decades to date since its launch at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show, the MX-5 has become the world’s best-selling two-seat convertible car with well over one million of the happy little buggies produced.
Of course, the MX-5 wasn’t the only big news in 1989. The final year of the eighties saw cultures clash, as old guards on several fronts merged into the technologically advanced nineties, the result shaping the world we live in today.
Was the MX-5 the most influential development of 1989? Not by a long shot…
The origins of the ‘Internet of Things’ stretches right back to the 1960s, but it wasn’t until 1989 that public commercial use began when MCI Mail and Compuserve connected their respective messaging services to unite their half-million users.
Things really took off in September 1989 when Tim Berners-Lee, a contractor at Switzerland’s CERN centre, launched his proposal for the ‘World Wide Web’.
Of course, the exact genesis of the internet is tricky to pinpoint due to its evolution which continues today, but this move by Berners-Lee in 1989 is credited as the origins of the internet as we know it today.
The Global Positioning System kicks off
We don’t even think about the complexities of the Global Positioning System when we flip out our phones to navigate our way to a good brunch spot, but the true reality is that our lives wouldn’t be quite the same without it.
Just like the Internet, GPS too can trace its roots to 1989 – the first of 24 satellites which would make up the network was put into orbit.
The Berlin Wall Falls
The Berlin Wall, constructed by the GDR to separate communist East Berlin with the Capitalist West, was a physical and brutal reminder that the so-called ‘Iron Curtain’ was very real and present.
The thawing of the Cold War gradually eased tensions among the major world players, and over the period of a few weeks in October 1989 word spread that escape from the East was becoming possible. The flow became a flood, and with border guards completely overwhelmed and no East German willing to bear the responsibility of giving the order to use lethal force, the border fell. Demolition of the wall began in on November 9th 1989, and continued for the following weeks.
Nintendo launches Game Boy
Game Boy wasn’t the first handheld game console, but it was surely the most famous. The humble grey rectangle with its green dot-matrix screen and simple four-button and directional navigation arrows became the standard, propelling games like Super Mario and Pokemon to stardom.
It too is a product of 1989 – Japan got it first on April 21, with the US following three months later.
HDTV was broadcast for the first time
We tend to think of high-definition television as a recent phenomenon, but the term has been thrown around as early as the first demonstration broadcasts in 1936. However, we once again look to Japan for the future – daily test broadcasts of HDTV began in June 1989, making this the first time that HDTV had been publicly broadcast.
Bette Midler launched ‘Wind Beneath my Wings’
We’ll just leave this here…
1989 was a landmark year for television
The first episode of The Simpsons, Simpsons roasting on an open fire, made its debut on December 17, 1989.
The Simpsons trace a similar lineage to our humble MX-5 – in its thirtieth season with 662 episodes it is the longest-running American sitcom, and has recently been renewed for two more seasons. The final confirmed season will see the series hit a landmark 700 episodes, making it unquestionably the longest running cartoon series of all time.
With Mazda having just launched the 30th Anniversary Mk4 MX-5 and no end in sight for the world’s favourite roadster, the similarities are uncanny.
1989 also saw the debut of Seinfeld, the ‘show about nothing’. It only ran for a comparatively minuscule nine seasons and 180 episodes, but it is widely credited as a cultural icon and one of the most influential television shows ever created. That, and its creator Jerry Seinfeld is a huge car nut.