When investors talk about gold prices, 1980 is usually the first time period that comes to mind. That's because more than a few people bought the early 1980 spike and were left with heartburn after the drop-off.
However, few people who invoke 1980 discuss gold's rise between 1970 and 1980. In January of 1970, gold was $35/oz. Nixon closed the gold window in the summer of 1971 and ushered in a new era of the war between gold and fiat currency.
Ten years later, in January of 1980, gold had spiked over 20x the 1970 price for the reasons snake_oil_inc lists, not to mention the energy crisis and Middle East political unrest.
I remember my father trading in his Impala, buying a 4 cylinder Subaru, and installing solar panels on his house. Those were some wacky times, but remember that history often repeats itself.
As for myself, I've bought the dips on gold and silver both since the late 80s. Dollar cost averaging has been kind.