The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Table of Contents     1980   1982   1983   1984   1985   1986   1987   1988   1989

1/5 -- In Britain, police charge Peter Sutcliffe, the "Yorkshire Ripper," with murder. The Yorkshire Ripper had murdered 13 women in the previous five years. (Sutcliffe is sentenced to life imprisonment a few months later.)

1/7-- Figures show that sales of American-made autos declined 20% in one year, making 1980 the industry's worst year in history.

1/15 -- Hill Street Blues premieres on NBC.

1/17 -- President Ferdinand Marcos ends eight years of martial law in the Philippines.

1/20 -- The $11 million inauguration of Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th president of the United States, takes place in Washington DC. At 69 he is the oldest person to hold the office.

1/20 -- The 52 American hostages held in Iran for 444 days are freed.

1/21 -- Sir Norman Stronge, Northern Ireland's former parliamentary speaker, is assassinated, along with his son, by terrorists.

1/25 -- In China the "Gang of Four" are sentenced; two of them, including Mao Zedong's widow Jiang Qing, are given the death sentence.

2/5 -- President Reagan unveils his economic recovery plan in a nationally televised address. The plan includes a 30% reduction in income tax rates over three years as well as a reduction in government spending.

2/17 -- The U.S. Congress approves the Reagan administration's request for economic and military aid to the government of El Salvador which, the White House says, is threatened by leftist guerillas supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba.

2/24 -- Jean Harris is convicted of the murder of Dr. Herman Tarnower, the Scarsdale Diet doctor, and is sentenced to 15 years to life.

3/6 -- CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite, 64, presides over his last newscast. He is replaced by Dan Rather.

3/16 -- The Los Angeles Board of Education decides to end forced busing of children to achieve racial integration in its schools.

3/22 -- The U.S. first-class postal rate goes up to 18c per ounce.

3/30 -- President Reagan is shot by John W. Hinckley, Jr. as he leaves the Washington Hilton. The Devastator bullet rips through a lung and comes within an inch of his heart. Also wounded: White House press secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy J. McCarthy, and Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty. In Hollywood, the Academy Awards program is delayed 24 hours.

3/31 -- A poll shows that Reagan's popularity rating has gone up 11 points in one day.

4/12 -- The U.S. successfully launches the first space shuttle; Columbia completes 36 orbits with astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen aboard.

4/13 -- Janet Cooke of the Washington Post wins the Pulitzer Prize for her story on a child heroin addict, which later turns out to be a complete fiction.

5/1 -- Japan agrees to limit passenger car exports to the U.S. for three years; American automakers had lost $4 billion in 1980 as Japanese car manufacturers captured 21% of the market in 1980.

5/5 -- Bobby Sands, a 27-year old member of the Irish Republican Army serving a 14-year sentence for firearms possession, dies after a 66-day hunger strike in Maze Prison near Belfast.

5/9 -- In El Salvador, five national guardsmen are arrested for the December 2, 1980 murders of three American nuns and a female coworker.

5/11 -- Reggae singer Bob Marley dies of cancer at 36. "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes hits Number 1 on the Billboard chart and stays there for nine weeks.

5/13 -- Pope John Paul II is shot and seriously injured in the Vatican City's St. Peter's Square. The would-be-assassin turns out to be a Turkish terrorist, Mehmet Ali Agca.

5/23 -- Italy's entire cabinet resigns when revelations link 953 cabinet officers, legislators, judges and bankers to a secret Masonic organization.

5/29 -- 160,000 coal miners end a strike that began in March as the United Mine Workers agree to a new contract with coal industry representatives.

5/30 -- A military coup in Bangladesh fails, even though President Ziaur Rahman is killed.

6/5 -- The Center for Disease Control reports an outbreak of pneumonia among homosexual men.

6/7 -- Israeli jets destroy Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor.

6/12 -- Pro baseball players begin their first-ever mid-season strike over the issue of compensation to owners when players become free agents. It lasts for 50 days.

6/22 -- Mark David Chapman pleads guilty to the charge of murdering John Lennon and is sentenced to 20 years to life.

6/22 -- Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr is removed from office and flees to France.

6/28 -- Ayatollah Mohammed Behesti, head of the Islamic Republican Party in Iran, is slain along with four other key government officials when a bomb explodes in Teheran.

7/3 -- The Center for Disease Control reports 26 cases of a rare and fatal skin cancer among homosexuals.

7/7 -- President Reagan nominates Aizona appellate court judge Sandra Day O'Connor, 51, to become the first female Supreme Court Justice. She will be formally sworn in on September 25.

7/11 -- The Writers Guild ends a 13-week strike against film and television producers over revenue share; the fall TV season will be delayed several weeks due to the strike.

7/17 -- Wayne Williams is indicted for murdering two young blacks in Atlanta, where a total of 28 young black men were slain over a period of two years. Israeli planes bomb Beirut, gunning for the headquarters of al-Fatah, the guerrilla unit of the PLO, and several hundred people are killed.

7/18 -- Two skywalks in Kansas City's Hyatt Regency Hotel collapse, killing 113 people.

7/21 -- Leaders of the G7 nations -- the U.S., Great Britain, France, West Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada -- meet in Ottawa to discuss the high inflation and high unemployment afflicting the major industrialized democracies.

7/21 -- Belize, formerly British Honduras, becomes an independent commonwealth.

7/29 -- Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne, marries 20-year-old Lady Diana Spencer in London's St. Paul's Cathedral. Over one million people line the route from Buckingham Palace to the cathedral, while an estimated 700 million watched on television.

7/31 -- Panamanian strongman Gen. Omar Torrijos Herrera, 62, is killed in a plane crash. Col. Manuel Ortega emerges as his successor.

8/1 -- MTV, television's first 24-hour music channel, premieres, changing the music business forever.

8/3 -- About 85% of the 15,000 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization go on an illegal strike across the U.S.

8/5 -- The White House sends pink slips to over 5,000 striking air traffic controllers.

8/12 -- IBM introduces its first personal computer. The PC uses a Microsoft disc-operating system (MS-DOS).

8/13 -- President Reagan signs the Omnibus Reconciliation Act and the Economic Recovery Act of 1981 into law, mandating the deepest tax and budget cuts in U.S. history.

8/19 -- U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcats shoot down a pair of Libyan jets during American naval maneuvers in the Gulf of Sidra.

8/25 -- Voyager II passes within 63,000 miles of Saturn, transmitting much new data back to earth, including the fact that Saturn's rings number in the thousands. Voyager continues on towards Uranus, which it is scheduled to reach in 1986.

9/4 -- The Agriculture Department classifies ketchup and pickle relish as vegetables in its retooling of the school lunch program.

9/10 -- The Polish federation of trade unions, Solidarity, calls for free parliamentary elections, challenging the traditional Communist leadership in Poland.

9/19 -- 250,000 people gather at a Washington DC rally organized by the AFL-CIO to protest the Reagan administration's cutbacks in social programs.

9/21 -- The U.S. Senate confirms the appointment of Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court.

9/22 -- Europe's first super-high speed passenger train, the TGV, begins service in France.

9/29 -- The ceiling on the U.S. national debt reaches $1 trillion for the first time.

10/6 -- Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is assassinated by commandos during a military parade in Cairo. It is believed the assassins were part of a dissident Muslin army element opposed to Sadat's live-and-let-live attitude towards Israel.

10/28 -- The Senate votes 52-48 to approve President Reagan's controversial proposal to sell five AWAC (airborne warning and control) surveillance planes to Saudi Arabia. Critics complain the sale will threaten Israel's security.

11/1 -- Antigua and Barbuda gain full independence.

11/1 -- The U.S. first-class postal rate goes up to 20c per ounce.

11/14 -- The space shuttle Columbia completes its historic second mission, marking the first time a manned vehicle is reused for another space voyage.

11/16 -- "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John is the Number 1 song in the U.S. and will remain so for the next ten weeks.

11/18 -- Reagan announces he has offered a deal to Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev -- if the Russians will remove their SS-20 missiles aimed at Western Europe, the U.S. will not deploy its Pershing II and cruise missiles there.

11/30 -- Representatives of the U.S. and the USSR meet in Geneva to discuss the reduction of medium-range nuclear weapons in Europe.

12/2 -- The White House confirms the rumor that Libyan hit squads have been dispatched to the U.S. by Muammar Qaddafi. Their target: The president and other top officials.

12/4 -- The Department of Labor announces that unemployment stands at 8.4% due to high interest rates and declining production and sales.

12/13 -- Poland's Communist government imposes martial law on the entire country due, it says, to growing social unrest and economic distress. Government troops raid Solidarity's headquarters at Gdansk.

12/14 -- Israel annexes the Golan Heights, which it had captured from Syria during the 1967 war. The UN Security Council declares the annexation is illegal.

12/17 -- American Brigadier General James Dozier is kidnapped in Verona, Italy, by members of the Red Brigades, a leftist terrorist group.

12/29 -- President Reagan announces economic sanctions against the USSR in response to the crackdown on dissidents in Poland.

This year...Standard Oil. Co. acquires Kennecott, the biggest producer of copper; Sears, Roebuck acquires Coldwell, Banker & Co., the largest U.S. real estate company, and Dean Witter Reynolds, the fifth-largest securities concern; E.I. Du Pont acquires Conoco.....The world's longest suspension bridge, Britain's 4,626-foot Humber Bridge, at Hull, is opened.....Sales of American autos fall to 6.2 million, the lowest number in 20 years.....The world's population reaches 4.5 billion, up from 2.5 billion in 1950; China has a population of 957 million, India has 664 million, the USSR has 266 million, the U.S. has 228 million, up from 203 million in 1970.