1981 History/Videos

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1981 Many notable technological advances happened in 1981 one of the most exciting was the First Flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia. This was also the first year that the Word Internet was mentioned and MS-DOS was released by Microsoft along with the first IBM PC. On the world stage the events that captured the imagination included Lady Diana Spencer marrying Charles The Prince of Wales. In Politics a little known group before Solidarity inspire popular protests and a general strike in Poland and the government in the UK starts the process of privatization of Nationalized Industries which is later followed by many other countries around the world.

Cost of Living 1981

How Much things cost in 1981
Yearly Inflation Rate USA 10.35%
Year End Close Dow Jones Industrial Average 875
Interest Rates Year End Federal Reserve 15.75%
Average Cost of new house $78,200.00
Average Income per year $21,050.00
Average Monthly Rent $315.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas $1.25
Sinclair ZX80 $199.95
19 inch Color TV $399.95


What Events Happened in 1981

  • Iran releases 52 American hostages, who had been held for 444 days
  • Solidarity inspired popular protests and general strike lead to imposition of Marshal Law and eventual outlawing of solidarity party in Poland
  • Thatcher Government in England begin privatization of Nationalized Industries creating economic revival , this format is later emulated in many other countries throughout the world
  • Air traffic controllers strike causing chaos in the US
  • Irish Republican Army member Bobby Sands dies while on the hunger strike, During that time Bobby Sands is elected to Westminster as the MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone.
  • Ronald Reagan becomes US President
  • Following plans between European Countries and the US to base Nuclear Missiles in Europe protesters including those at Greenham Common picket US bases
  • Researchers find the wreck of the Titanic in the North Atlantic
  • Muhammad Ali finally retires with career record of 55 wins and 5 defeats
  • Rupert Murdoch shuts down the Sunday Times due to an industrial dispute
  • Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke admits her feature was fabricated and relinquished the Pulitzer Prize
  • The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could require parental notification when teenage girls seek abortions .
  • Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper is caught, and imprisoned for life for 13 counts of murder
  • Earthquake hits Athens, killing 16 people
  • Pope John Paul II, is shot but not killed in Vatican City
  • Lady Diana Spencer marries Charles, Prince of Wales.
  • Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is assassinated.
  • Sandra Day O'Connor is nominated to become the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • The first American test-tube baby, is born
  • Riots break out in a number of UK Cities including Brixton ( London ), Toxteth (Liverpool), and Moss Side ( Manchester )
  • The introduction of the first Frequent Flyer Miles AAdvantage introduced by American Airlines ( frequent flyer miles can be redeemed for free air travel )
  • Four senior Labour MP'S announce they will breakaway from Labour Party and set up the Social Democratic Party SDP under the leadership of Roy Jenkins
  • 147 passengers and crew of a Pakistan Airways are taken hostage and released in Syria
  • Attempted coup in Bangladesh and the President Ziaur Rahman is murdered
  • Antigua and Barbuda Gains Independence From Great Britain
  • The First London Marathon is Run In England

Popular Culture 1981

  • MTV (Music Television) is launched
  • Simon And Garfunkel Reunite for concert in New York's Central Park

Popular Films

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Superman II
  • Nine to Five
  • Any Which Way You Can
  • Arthur
  • The Cannonball Run
  • For Your Eyes Only
  • On Golden Pond
  • Chariots of Fire

Popular Musicians

  • John Lennon
  • Blondie
  • Dolly Parton " 9 to 5 "
  • Sheena Easton
  • Diana Ross and Lionel Richie with "Endless Love "
  • Olivia Newton-John With " Physical "
  • Roxy Music
  • Bucks Fizz
  • Adam and The Ants
  • Michael Jackson
  • Queen
  • David Bowie

Technology 1981

  • Scientists identify The Aids Virus
  • First Flight of US Space Shuttle Columbia
  • The European Rocket "Ariane" is launched
  • IBM in US launches it's first PC which uses Microsoft Software MS DOS
  • The term INTERNET first mentioned
  • Post It Notes launched by 3M Corp
  • The Worlds Fastest Train The French TGV goes into service between Paris and Lyons
  • China Clones the first fish (Golden Carp)
  • Artificially Produced Insulin becomes the worlds first genetically engineered protein to treat human disease Diabetes
  • MS-DOS released by Microsoft

Inventions Invented by Inventors and Country (or attributed to First Use )

  • Space Shuttle USA Columbia was first reusable space vehicle
  • Scanning Tunnelling Microscope Switzerland


Research for this year is provided by The People History.
See History By Year and Decade for more prices and information.
Find out more about the 80s at ThePeopleHistory.com.



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