Many companies that you know today, including Dell and Whole Foods Market, got their start in the 1980s, according to tech support business Computer Hope and Fast Company magazine, respectively. As these companies were spreading their wings, others, particularly those in transportation, were either going the way of the dodo or merging with other enterprises, according to legal resource Law Library.
If you want to know what companies were at the top of their game in 1980, you need only look to Fortune 500's historic database. Topping the list of mega-companies ranked by revenue and profits were Exxon Mobil, which was followed by General Motors, Mobil and Ford Motor Co. In 2010, the top companies looked quite different, with one exception; Exxon Mobil again made the list at number two, but Wal-Mart topped the list. Rounding out the top five mega-companies were Chevron, General Electric and Bank of America.
You may not realize that the green movement has its roots with the hippie generation of the 1960s. Out of this movement, came many entrepreneurs who later went on to start socially and environmentally conscious business models in the 1980s, according to a Fast Company report by Russ Meyer, which appeared in the May 13, 2010, issue. Ventures you may recognize as getting their start during the decade include Tom's of Maine, The Body Shop, Burt's Bees and Whole Foods Market.
Fledgling computer companies were innovating, while other ventures were debuting, during this decade, according to a time line provided by tech support company Computer Hope, which got its start in 1998. Compaq, Dell and Asus were all born out of the 1980s, while Apple debuted its first Mac, Microsoft unveiled Windows 1.0 and IBM introduced the personal computer. A year prior to the personal computer's debut, in 1980, a young man named Bill Gates joined the company. By 1986, Gates would be named among the world's youngest billionaires.
While some new companies were profiting from the latest technology, other sectors were experiencing turbulence. According to Law Library, the airline industry was deregulated during this decade, in a governmental effort to increase competition among carriers. It reports the move had the effect of dropping prices for consumers, but it also adversely impacted ventures like Eastern, Pan Am, Piedmont and Midway Airlines. These businesses ceased operations. Other carriers, like Continental and TWA, survived the deregulation by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, according to the Law Library. Mergers also occurred in rail, according to American-Rails.com, while some operations like Rio Grande and Southern Railway, didn't make it to the 1990s.