As we continue our 25th-anniversary celebration, we thought it would be fun to look back at the history, pop culture and economics of our birth year, 1989. For you history buffs, 1989 marked the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. In technology news, Microsoft released the very first Office Suite, including Spreadsheet, Word Processor, Database and Presentation software, while Nintendo also debuted one of its legacy products, the Game Boy. The most historic technology event of 1989 was the ideation of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee. Although his proposal was not immediately accepted, Tim didn’t give up on his dream, and by the end of 1990 the very first Web page was served.
Without the World Wide Web we wouldn’t be able to use Netflix to stream our favorite TV shows, like Seinfeld and The Simpsons, both of which premiered in 1989, or our favorite movies from that year, like When Harry Met Sally and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. We also wouldn’t be able to use Pandora to listen to 1989 favorites Madonna and Prince.
If you saw When Harry Met Sally in theaters, you probably paid on average $3.96 a ticket, whereas today you could pay upwards of $8.35. Due to inflation, our everyday items, such as stamps, gas and bread, are also more expensive now than they were 25 years ago. For example, a gallon of gas in the U.S. in 1989 cost only 97 cents; today we are paying just over $3.50 a gallon.
One of the most interesting facts we discovered in our search of the past is that the individual mandate component of the Affordable Care Act, which went into effect in 2014, has its roots in our birth year. In a publication by The Heritage Foundation, Stuart M. Butler set the stage for health care reform by proposing the individual mandate in the Heritage Plan, “Mandate all households to obtain adequate insurance,” and that “All citizens should be guaranteed universal access to affordable health care.” He also proposed that greater emphasis should be placed on innovation for health care delivery, a notion that is extremely relevant to the Foundation’s next 25 years. On April 1, 2014, the Foundation merged with Healthwise to help ever-increasing numbers of people become meaningfully involved in their health care decisions through innovative and user-tested patient engagement technologies. As one combined organization, we will help bring about a health care system that is truly responsive to the patient’s voice.