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Important Events and Moments of the 80s

From the birth of the pop culture to the invention of the very first Nintendo Game Boy, the 1980s were anything but boring! If you are an 80’s kid, you must be familiar with most, if not all, the memorable moments that it gave us. If you don’t remember or don’t know, we’ve rounded up some of the most important events and moments of the 80s in this article that will leave you speechless! Have a look: 

CNN Launches (1980)

The first-ever 24-hour cable news channel was launched on June 1 1980, by Ted Turner. The channel was called Cable News Network (CNN). It was a move that changed the way how news used to be covered. With CNN, people were able to watch news fix without having to wait for that 6pm bulletin. 

Rubik’s Cube Becomes Viral (1980)

Rubik’s Cube was invented by Erno Rubik of Hungary in 1974 but got viral in America in the early 1980s. It fascinated all the people around the globe. It was originally known as “Magic Cube” in Hungary but was reinvented as Rubik’s Cube in 1980. People got so crazy for it that they started Rubik’s Cube Championships, and the very first championship took place in 1982. 

USA Ice Hockey Team Wins the “Miracle on Ice” (1980)

Before 1980, the Russian hockey team was unbeatable and were already the winner of five out of six Winter Olympics’ Gold Medals. They were the favorite team to win the 1980’s Winter Olympics as well, but in an unimaginable upset, the USA team took the game by 4-3 in the final period and amazed the audience. The match was broadcasted live around the whole world. 

Walt Disney Pictures even made a movie on this match starring Kurt Russel in 2003, and HBO made a documentary film called “Do You Believe in Miracles?” in 2001. 

John Lennon Gets Murdered (1980)

The Assassination of John Lennon on December 8, 1980, shook the whole world and especially the fans of the Beatles. John was shot at close range in the back four times, by his fan Mark David Chapman after John autographed a copy of Double Fantasy for him. 

Mount St. Helens’ Volcanic Eruption (1980)

On May 18, 1980, a dreadful volcanic eruption occurred at Mount St. Helens in Washington State took the lives of nearly 57 people. It was erupted due to an earthquake and left a huge crater and spread volcanic ash across eleven US states. The height of this massive volcanic eruption was over 80,000ft – continuous two months of earthquakes also caused a fracture on the slope of the mountain (on the north side). 

The volcano didn’t just kill people but also caused more than a billion dollars in damages. The volcanic eruption occurred at Mount St. Helen is recorded as the only major eruption in US history since 1915. 

The First Personal Computer was introduced in the Market (1981)

IBM introduced the first personal computer in 1981, known as IBM 5105. Its base model was offered at $1,565. The machine weighed 25 pounds (too heavy for today) but was considered as compact back then. 

Bob Marley Dies (1981)

Bob Marley was seen at public rallies supporting Prime Minister Michael Manley – apparently, this was the reason that one of the extremists tried to kill him by shooting in his chest, but luckily he survived the assassination attempt. However, the Legendary Jamaican musician Bob Marley wasn’t lucky enough to survive for long as he died fighting skin cancer on May 11, 1981. He was battling with this disease for four years that started on his toe and gradually spread to his vital organs. He was only 36 years old at that time.

Ronald Reagan Gets Shot (1981)

Ronal Reagan, the 40th U.S. President, was shot while he was leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel on March 30th, 1981. The secret service was quick enough to take Reagan to George Washington University Hospital, where he underwent surgery and recovered. Later, the shooter was found not guilty because of insanity. 

Royal Wedding (1981)

The royal wedding of the beautiful couple, Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles, was aired live on TV on July 29, 1981 – it was watched around the globe by millions of people. Diana was a humanitarian and fashion icon while Charles was the Prince of Wales. It was billed as a “Fairytale Wedding” when it was aired to a global television audience. 

The day was so remarkable that later it was declared a national holiday. Unfortunately, the knot between Prince Charles and Lady Diana didn’t last long as they got divorced in 1996. Later in 1997, Diana tragically died in a car accident in Paris. 

President Anwar Al-Sadat of Egypt gets assassinated (1981)

While Egyptian President Anwar Al-Sadat was watching an annual parade in honor of Egypt’s 1973 war against Israel on October 1981; the military officers murdered him. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for a peace treaty he signed with Israel in 1979. This was the reason why a group of extremist officers assassinated him along with several other dignitaries. 

An attempt of assassination on Pope John Paul II (1981)

Pope John Paul II was shot in the abdomen and hand by a Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca in 1981. Luckily, the Pope was saved after a five-hour surgery. Agca was sentenced to 19 years in an Italian prison, but the Pope pardoned Agca instead and worked for his release in 1983. 

The Compact Disc was Invented (1982)

The Compact Disc (CD) and the first CD-player was invented in 1982. The title of first ever commercial CD belongs to Billy Joey’s “52nd Street”, which was released in Japan in 1982. CD was an alternative means of vinyl and cassette tapes for music lovers. It was the result of a collaboration between two top brands, Philips and Sony. It wasn’t used much back then for several years, mainly due to its high cost. 

Now, Compact Disks are becoming obsolete because of the technological evolutions and everyone switching to digital means of storage, i.e. cloud storage, flash drive, etc. 

John Belushi Dies (1982)

John Belushi, American comedian and former “Saturday Night Live” star, was drug overdosed and passed away at the age of 33 on March 5, 1982. He was found dead by his physical trainer, William Wallace, in his apartment that he had rented at the Chateau Marmont Hotel. 

Canada Becomes Truly Independent (1982)

On March 25, 1982, the Canada Act was signed by Queen Elizabeth II, according to which, Canada was announced as a wholly independent country. The act stated that Canada no longer needed the approval of the British parliament to pass its parliament bills. 

First Artificial Heart Transplant Took Place (1982)

A Seattle dentist Barney Clark became the first person to undergo the first artificial heart transplant surgery in 1982 at the age of 61. The surgery was done by Dr. Robert Jarvik, but sadly, the patient only survived 112 days after the surgery. However, that first artificial heart was named “Jarvik-7” after Dr. Robert Jarvik.

Dallas and M*A*S*H pull record audience (1983)

M*A*S*H, an American war comedy-drama television series, was aired on CBS from 1972 to 1983. If you are an 80’s kid who loved watching television series, you must be familiar with all the craze for the episode “Who Shot J.R?” that took the audience by storm. It was aired on 21 March 1980 and the viewers had to wait for ight months just to find out who actually killed Ewing patriarch (Larry Hagman). 

After its 11 seasons, when it was the finale of M*A*S*H on 28 February 1983, it broke all the rating records. The series was successful in pulling almost 106 million viewers around the globe – this TV record was unbeaten until 2010. 

Slap Bracelets Were Invented (1983)

Every 80’s child must know what a slap bracelet is but only a few know that it was invented in 1983 by a high school shop teacher named Stuart Anders. He was from Wisconsin, and this million-dollar idea came to him when he was playing with a steel ribbon in his father’s shop (according to the New York Times). 

Madonna becomes famous (1983)

Madonna, an American singer-copywriter, gained massive popularity in the 1980s due to her regular airtime on MTV and a bold personality. She changed the music, fashion, and perception of femininity with her songs and style. Not only she influenced females, but she also caved a path for many female performers to come. Her debut album was her self-titled album “Madonna” which became a club hit back then in 1983. 

The first mobile phone was released (1983)

The first ever mobile phone was invented and released by Motorola in America in 1983. Its development cost more than $100 million. It was the size of a brick and took up to 10 hours to get fully charged. After charging it to full, it could only be used for 30 minutes (talk time). 

The first MTV Awards Takes place (1984)

The first MTV Awards took place and broadcasted live on September 14, 1984. It was the time when Madonna’s iconic performance on her song “Like a Virgin” was also aired. At this event, the great Michael Jackson and Herbie Hancock took home several awards as well. 

Michael Jackson Wears his Famous Glove for the first time (1984)

People loved and still love Michael Jackson for his legendary moves and songs. The pop star Michael Jackson sported a single white glove during his first show on his Victory Tour on July 5th, 1984. The glove became Michael’s ultimate identity. It consisted of 50 tiny lights and was created by a designer Ted Shell. In 2010, it was sold for $190,000. 

The Afghan Girl (1985)

The portrait of a 12-year old Afghan Girl, Sharbat Gula, became an iconic image in the 80s due to her intense gaze. The photo was taken in 1984 by Steve McCurry while he was visiting a Pakistani refugee camp. National Geographic used this photo for their magazine in June 1985, and it successfully captured the imagination of the world. Sharbat’s photo was named “the most recognized photograph in the history of National Geographic Magazine”. 

Sharbat Gula saw her photo on the magazine for the first time in 2002 when she 29 years old. 

NASA’s Shuttle Gets Combusted (1986)

NASA’s Challenger Mission failed when its space shuttle combusted just 73 seconds after being launched on 28 January 1986, killing all seven astronauts that were on board. It was a nightmare for the millions of school children who were watching it taking off live. 

Black Monday (1987)

Black Monday 1987, in finance, refers to the crash on 19 October 1987, when stock markets all around the globe crashed. This biggest financial crash began in Hong Kong and then spread west to Europe, drastically affecting the United States’ Wall Street. It resulted in approx. $US1 Trillion of lost. 

Berlin Wall Falls (1989)

Finally, almost after two and a half years later, the Berlin Wall that divided East and West Germany, fell on November 1989, beginning the era of the Cold War. Ronald Raegan delivered a speech in Berlin in 1987 in which he said: “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear down This Wall.” This was one of the most iconic entreaties that were ever delivered in the history. Raegan said this to the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. 

The Game Boy Launches in Japan (1989)

The first-ever Game Boy by Nintendo was launched back then in 1989 on April 21, 1989. It wasn’t just another invention; it changed the way how gaming was done. With Game Boy, gamers could play anywhere, anytime. Tetris was introduced on Game Boy, which was once only available on the PC. More than 118 million units of the Game Boy have been sold worldwide. 


Whether we talk about thrilling and fun moments, inventions, or deaths/assassinations, the 1980s is an era that has it all. It was a period when revolutionary changes started to take place. We hope you liked our list; check out our article on The Biggest Musical Moments of the 80s to know about more interesting events. 

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