The 1980s

It was the bombdigity, homefry.


jan 04

Embargo against the Soviet Union

In 1948, the United States began a campaign of economic sanctions against the Soviet Union that would last more than fifty years. In March of that year, the Department of Commerce announced restrictions on exports to the Soviet Union and its European allies.

feb 22

Miracle on Ice (1980 Winter Olympics)

In one of the most dramatic upsets in Olympic history, the underdog U.S. hockey team, made up of college players, defeats the four-time defending gold-medal winning Soviet team at the XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York.

apr 24

Tehran Hostages (failed rescue attempt)

On April 24, 1980, an ill-fated military operation to rescue the 52 American hostages held in Tehran ends with 8 U.S. servicemen dead and no hostages rescued.

may 08

The WHO declared that smallpox was eradicated

On May 8, 1980, smallpox was declared eradicated by the World Health Organization.

may 18

Mt.Saint Helens erupts

On May 18, 1980 the volcano erupted in southern Washington and was the worst volcanic disaster in U.S. history. The eruption lasted for 9 hours and killed 57 people and over 7 thousand large animals.

may 21

The Empire Strikes Back

From the mind of George Lucas, the second installment of the Star Wars trilogy was released to the public on May 21, 1890. This follows the protagonist, Luke Skywalker, on his journey to defeat the Empire . As of today, Star Wars is still as popular as it was before, even having another installment in the series, “The Force Awakens.“(2015).

may 22

Pac-Man debut

The famous arcade game, “Pac-Man” made it’s way in history on May 22, 1980. The player navigates “Pac-Man” through a series of mazes while avoiding enemies most commonly known as “ghosts.” People credit “Pac-Man” as being a significant landmark in video game history.

jun 01

CNN was founded and broadcasted worldwide

On June 1, 1980, the Cable News Network made its debut. Its headquarters were in Atlanta, Georgia and today it is still really well known and is seen by millions of people around the world.

jul 19

Moscow 1980 Olympics

Athletic festival held in Moscow that took place July 19-August 3, 1980. The Moscow Games were the 19th occurrence of the Modern Olympic Games.

sep 22

Iran-Iraq War

Conflict between Iran and Iraq began on September 1980 which lasted until August 1988. The war was triggered when Iraq invaded Iran after a series of past personal disagreements between the two countries.


may 11

Bob Marley died

Bob Marley was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 1977.He went to Germany to see a cancer specialist, and on his way to Jamaica, he stopped in Miami to receive emergency medical care. He died at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital on May 11, 1981, at the age of 36.

may 13

Assassination attempt on the Pope

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot by Turkish murderer Mehmet Ali Agca .His assassination attempt was made in protest of the “imperialism” of the United States and Russia.

jun 01

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Another George Lucas classic, Raiders of the Lost Ark was released on June 12, 1981. As the first installment in the Indiana Jones series. Raiders of the Lost Ark became the highest grossing film of that year. Three films were eventually made as the successor to this franchise.

aug 01

MTV launches

On this day in 1981, MTV: Music Television goes on the air for the first time ever, with the words: “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll.” The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” was the first music video to air on the new cable television channel. MTV went on to revolutionize the music industry and become an influential source of pop culture and entertainment in the United States and other parts of the world, including Europe, Asia and Latin America, which all have MTV-branded channels.


jan 08

Breakup of the AT&T monopoly

In 1982, AT&T and the Department of Justice settled the antitrust case against AT&T. AT&T agreed to break itself up into several firms in 1984.

jun 05

First Speedcubing World Championship

The Rubik’s Cube was initially released as the Hungarian Magic Cube in 1977 but was renamed to the Rubik’s Cube in the 1980’s.The first world championship occurred on June 5th, 1982 and was held in Budapest, Hungary. Of the 19 people who competed, the American Minh Thai won with a time of 22.95 seconds.

nov 13

Vietnam War Memorial opened

A tribute to the dead of the U.S. longest, most unpopular and least successful war. The Memorial was opened on November 13, 1982. At the dedication there were 57,939 names and on Memorial day 2015 there are 58,307.


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Video Game Crash

The video game industry faced a significant recession during 1983 and lasted until 1985. There were several factors as to why the industry faced such a thing, one being home computers being competed alongside video games. In the end, the effects of the recession led to several game-companies being bankrupt.

feb 14

“Beat It” Debut

Michael Jackson’s original song “Beat It,” was released on February 14, 1983. It serves as one of the most successful and impactful songs in pop.

mar 23

SDIs (Star Wars)

The Strategic Defense Initiative was a anti-ballistic missile system initiated on March 23, 1983. It was labeled “Star Wars” after the popular movie and because it was based on untested technological theories. It proved to be controversial as it was deemed unworkable and would subsequently intensify the arms race. It was ultimately abandoned.

apr 18

United States embassy bombing in Beirut

On April 18, 1983, a car bomb detonated by a suicide bomber exploded at the front of the U.S. embassy in Beirut. 63 people died, 17 of them being American. It’s thought to mark the beginning of anti-U.S. attacks by Islamic terrorist groups.

jun 18

Sally Ride is the first American woman in space

On June 18, 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space when she was on a space shuttle mission and she worked the robotic arm. She later flew on another space shuttle in 1984.

sep n/a

Domain Name System

The inventor of the Domain Name System Paul Mockapetris in November 1983. With his efforts to contribute to the evolutionize the internet, he was able to make navigation through the internet much more easier.

sep 01

Soviets shoot down Korean airliner

Korean Airlines Flight 007 is shot down by the Soviet Union. The flight was on its way to Seoul and was shot down near the Sea of Japan. According to the Soviet Union, it was flying through a prohibited area and so they shot it down killing all of the passengers inside.

sep 21

Motorolla introduced first mobile phone

The Motorola Dynatac became the first ever mobile phone. It had a battery life of 18 minutes and weighed 800 grams.

oct 13

First commercial cellphone call is made.

The call was made on October 13, 1983 using a Motorola DynaTac Handset, referred to as the “brick” due to its size. Bob Barnett, President of Ameritech Mobile communications, called Alexander Graham Bell’s nephew from Chicago’s Soldier Field.

oct 25

U.S. invasion of Grenada

President Ronald Reagan, citing the threat posed to American nationals on the Caribbean nation of Grenada by that nation’s Marxist regime, orders the Marines to invade and secure their safety. There were nearly 1,000 Americans in Grenada at the time, many of them students at the island’s medical school. In little more than a week, Grenada’s government was overthrown.


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US Crack epidemic

A surge of crack cocaine use in major cities occurred between 1984 through 1990. By 1985, 5.8 million people admitted to using cocaine and by 1987, crack was available in all but 4 states.

jan 24

Introduction of the first Macintosh computer

Steve Jobs introduced the original Macintosh computer on January 24, 1984. He introduces it during a Apple Shareholder Event.

may 08

1984 Summer Olympics Boycott

Follow up to the U.S. - led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. The boycott involved 14 Eastern Bloc countries and allies, led by the Soviet Union, which initiated the boycott on May 8, 1984.

jun 08


Released in June 8, 1984, the classic adventure comedy was an instant success, with the movie grossing over $295 million worldwide. It was nominated for the Oscars the following year but was unable to do so.

dec 02

Poison Gas Leak in Bhopal India

December 2nd and 3rd in 1984, thousands of people were killed when methyl isocyanate escaped from an insecticide plant. The plant was owned by the Indian subsidiary of the American firm Union Carbide Corporation and the death toll ranges from 15,000 to 20,000 people.


may n/a

Hole in Ozone Layer discovered

Discovered in May, 1985, the finding was made by scientists from the UK and their research was later backed by NASA who used their satellites to confirm it. A hole in the Ozone Layer means an increase in the levels of cancer-causing radiation from the sun to the earth’s surface.

jun 07

The Goonies

The adventure comedy film “The Goonies” was released on theaters on June 7, 1985. Although the movie was not as critically acclaimed as the previous mentioned, it was still just as successful, grossing over $61 million.

jul 03

Back to the Future

Back to the Future debuted on July 3, 1985 as the first installment in the “Back to the Future” trilogy. The reception of the movie received critical acclaim and earned over $389 million. As a result, it became the highest grossing film of that year.

jul 13

Live Aid concert

On July 13, 1985, at Wembley Stadium in London, Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially open Live Aid, a worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans.

sep 01

Titanic shipwreck discovered

On September 1, 1985, the shipwreck of the Titanic which had sunk on April 15, 1912, was on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. The discovery was made by a joint American-French expedition and was lead by Dr. Robert Ballard.On October 1980, the Pac Man videogame was released in the U.S.. Pac Man remains as one of the most popular video games in history.

oct 18

The Nintendo Entertainment System is released in North America

Nintendo releases a limited batch of Nintendo Entertainment Systems in New York City, quietly launching the most influential video game platform of all time.

nov 20

Microsoft introduces Windows

Microsoft releases Windows 1.0 as the first version of the Microsoft Windows line. It was released on November 20, 1985. It received heavy criticism but proved to be an important milestone for Microsoft and for computer history in general.


apr 14

US Bombs Libya

On April 14, 1986, after the Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi financed several operations against American troops and citizens such as the the bombing of a West Berlin dance hall, the U.S. retaliated. Air strikes were conducted in Benghazi and Tripoli and was deemed a success military facilities and barracks were hit. The operation was code named Operation El Dorado Canyon.

may 25

Hands Across America

On May 25, 1986, 5 million people joined hands to create a 4,125 mile long human chain from New York City to Long Beach, California. The event was a charity event that hoped to raise money and draw attention to hunger and homelessness.


oct 19

Black Monday

On October 19, 1987, stock markets across the world crash and they shed a large amount of value in a short span. The stock markets rebounded rather quickly however and in 2 years, the Dow surpassed it’s all time high.

dec 08

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty was signed

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed on December 8, 1987 by the U.S. and the Soviet Union. They both agreed to eliminate their stocks of intermediate-range and short-range land based missiles. This treaty was the first arms-control treaty to abolish an entire category of weapon systems.

dec 14

TMNT debut

On December 14, 1987, TMNT was first shown on television. TMNT features 4 turtles, Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Leonardo in their fight against the main antagonist, Shredder.

dec 29

FDA gives approval to market Prozac

On December 29, 1987, the antidepressant Prozac is approved by the FDA for sale in the U.S. Prozac is now used to to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bulimia, and panic disorder.


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Nike Inc's "Just Do It" formed

It was formed in 1988 and the words were inspired by serial killer Gary Gilmore who said “Let’s do it” back in 1977 before he was executed.

aug 15

Sweet Child O Mine by Guns n Roses

The song was released as a single on August 15, 1988 on the Guns N Roses album called Appetite for destruction. It won the MTV Music Video Award for Best Heavy Metal Video. The song became #1 in America in 1988 and the guitar solo in the song has the 37th spot in the list for the top 100 best guitar solos of all time.


mar 24

Exxon Valdez oil spill

On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound located in Alaska. The tanker spilled 10.8 million gallons of crude oil, ultimately damaging over 1,300 miles of coastline and devastating wildlife. Exxon spent 4.3 billion dollars to clean the oil spill though there’s still oil in Prince William Sound.

apr 21

GameBoy released

The Game Boy was released on June 31, 1989 by Nintendo in North America. Upon its release in the U.S., one million Game Boys were sold during the first few weeks.

dec 17

First Simpsons episode released

The first episode was released on December 19, 1989 on FOX. The first episode was called “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”. To this day, there are more than 500 episodes and there are about 26 seasons to the show.