The Early 1980s – A Pop Quiz by Mr. Ernst

Do you remember the early 1980s? The Chloe Ellefson mysteries written by Kathleen Ernst (my wife and better half) are set back then. When she first began working on the series I volunteered to do some general background research about the time period. This short, purely-for-fun quiz is based on some of what I turned up. Enjoy!

Answers are at the bottom of the post.

US President Ronald Reagan official portrait.

1.  In 1980 Jimmy Carter lost the US Presidential election to Ronald Reagan. Who was Reagan’s Vice-President?

Image of a chart.

2.  What was the highest rate of inflation in the US during 1980?


3.  Which two Hollywood Legends earned Oscars for their roles in the 1981 film On Golden Pond?

Photo of the Jarvic 7 artificial human heart.

4.  In 1982 the first human successfully received a transplanted artificial heart to replace his failing heart. How long did he survive afterwards?


5.  Which female started on what TV show in 1982? (Hint: she was still a cast member as of 2017.)


6.  The US and the Soviet Union were locked in the Cold War when this Soviet Leader died in 1982. What was his name? (Hint: he ordered the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.)


7.  The Milwaukee Brewers lost the 1982 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals. What was the series called? (Hint: both cities were famous for beer.)


8.  The first mystery in what grew to be a 25-book series was published in 1982. Who was the author? (Hint: she passed away in 2017.)


9.  The 1982 film Conan The Barbarian provided the breakthrough role for which actor? (Hint: this immigrant later became a US politician.)


10.  The Apple Lisa Desktop Computer was commercially released in 1983. What two revolutionary features did it introduce? (Hint: almost all computers now use them.)


11.  How many viewers watched the broadcast of the final episode of this popular, long-running TV comedy in February 1983?  


12.  In 1984 the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X became the first commercially available cell phone. What did it cost when first released?


  1. Reagan’s Vice-President from 1981-1989 was George H.W. Bush, who then served as President from 1989-1993. His son George W. Bush was President from 2001-2009.
  2. In 1980 the official US inflation rate soared to a high of 13.5%.
  3. Katharine Hepburn won an Oscar for Best Actress and Henry Fonda won an Oscar for Best Actor for their work in the film On Golden Pond. Henry was the father of actress Jane Fonda, who was also featured in the film.
  4. The first patient to have his failing heart successfully replaced with an artificial one survived 112 days after receiving a Jarvik 7.
  5. The popular TV show Wheel Of Fortune debuted in 1982 and actress Vanna White has been turning letters on it for thirty-five years as of 2017.
  6. Leonid Brezhnev was the Chairman of the Soviet Communist Party from 1964 until his death in 1982. He started the Soviet War in Afghanistan, which ran from 1979-1989.
  7. The 1982 baseball World Series was nicknamed the “Suds War” because Milwaukee and St. Louis were both known for making beer.
  8. Bestselling author Sue Grafton published “A” is for Alibi in 1982. It was the first book in her popular, long-running mystery series about private eye Kinsey Millhone. (Note: in the third Chloe Ellefson mystery, The Light Keeper’s Legacy, Roelke gives Chloe a copy of “A” is for Alibi to take to the lighthouse on Rock Island.)
  9. Austrian-born bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger launched his film career in Conan The Barbarian. He later used his fame to become Governor of California.
  10. Apple’s Lisa Desktop Computer was the first commercially available computer with a Graphical User Interface (GUI) and a mouse. The Lisa cost $9,995 when introduced in 1983, equal to $24,600 in 2017.
  11. The final episode of M*A*S*H in February 1983 was watched by over 120 million viewers, more than any other US broadcast TV program. (Note: in the fifth Chloe Ellefson mystery, Tradition of Deceit, Roelke’s best friend Rick Alverez and his finance Lidia are planning a ‘M*A*S*H Bash’ party to watch the final episode.)
  12. The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X commercial portable cellular phone had a retail cost of $3,395 when commercially released in 1984, equal to $9,410 in 2017 dollars. Charging the battery took roughly 10 hours and provided 30 minutes of talk time.

I hope you enjoyed the quiz. Over the next few months I’ll be back on this blog posting about things that turned up while doing detailed research about the historic timelines featured in each of Kathleen’s now eight published Chloe Ellefson mysteries.

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4 Responses to “The Early 1980s – A Pop Quiz by Mr. Ernst”

  1. Kathleen Says:

    I got most of them right! Hard to believe how things have changed, fun quiz!

  2. Arletta Dawdy's Blog Says:

    I must have slept thru the 80’s for I only got 3 and 1/2 right; the half was for the “mouse” on the Lisa question #10…it was fun tho’.

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      (Mr. Ernst): Glad you enjoyed the quiz. My memories of the early 80s were a little unclear too, which I didn’t even realize until I started researching that era. Good catch on the mouse!

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