Events in the 1980s

The 1980s were not only full of great movies, music, and fashion, but were also a decade of significant events and firsts.

Events in the 1980s included new advances in technology and important discoveries.

Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter in a landslide on November 4, 1980.

In 1981, we saw Columbia, the first U.S. space shuttle, launch and the first female appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor. In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.

In 1980, Luis Alvarez and his son discovered a band of sedimentary rock with high levels of iridium in Italy—which may have affected dinosaur life 65 million years ago. Another major event of the 1980s was the discovery and filming of the sunken Titanic in 1985.

The 1980 Winter Olympics brought us the Miracle on Ice, where the United States upset the seemingly unbeatable Soviet hockey team. Two major weddings events took place while millions watched— Prince Charles and Princess Diana and Luke and Laura from General Hospital.

The early 1980s also introduced us to more relaxed cable television policies. Cable television surged in popularity, bringing us stations like CNN and MTV. Technology was constantly developed and improved, and computers started popping up in homes with IBM releasing the 5150 and Commodore giving us the 64.

The VHS tape made Betamax obsolete, and video stores starting appearing all across the country, while Atari, Sega, and Nintendo started a video game revolution with 80s games like Pac Man, and Donkey Kong, which was the beginning of the still hugely popular Mario series.

The 1980s were also full of African-American firsts. In 1986, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Little Richard, James Brown, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, and Fats Domino.

The great Aretha Franklin was also the very first woman ever inducted one year later. In 1983, Vanessa Williams was crowned Miss America, and Harold Washington was elected mayor of Chicago.

Throughout the 1980s, celebrities and musicians used their status to raise money for charities around the entire world. Live Aid consisted of two huge concerts held simultaneously in Philadelphia and London to raise money for a struggling Ethiopia, featuring bands like Run DMC, The Who, U2, Madonna, Duran Duran, Elvis Costello and David Bowie.

Some comments made by Bob Dylan at Live Aid about raising money for family farms were controversial, but spurred what is now Farm Aid, an organization dedicated to promoting the importance of farming. John Mellancamp, Willie Nelson and Neil Young organized the first Farm Aid concert event in Champaign, Illinois in September 22, 1985.

One of the biggest events in the 1980s was in 1987 when President Reagan, along with much of the German population, urged Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” The destruction and fall of the Berlin Wall began on November 9, 1989.