What Happened in 1981 Important News and Events, Key Technology and Popular Culture
What happened in 1981 Major News Stories include The Aids Virus Identified, Iran Hostage Crisis Ends, Yorkshire Ripper is caught, Post It Notes launched, Riots UK Cities, Anwar Sadat assassinated. 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.
Jump To 1981 Fashion
-- World Leaders
-- 1981 Calendar
-- 1981 Technology
-- Cost Of Living
-- Popular Culture
How Much things cost in 1981
Yearly Inflation Rate USA10.35%
Year End Close Dow Jones Industrial Average 875
Interest Rates Year End Federal Reserve 15.75%
Average Cost of new house $78,200
Median Price Of and Existing Home $66,400
Average Income per year $21,050.00
Average Monthly Rent $315.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas $1.25 Below are some Prices for UK guides in Pounds Sterling
Average House Price 24,188
Gallon of Petrol 1.32
Yearly Inflation Rate UK 11.9%
Interest Rates Year End Bank of England 14.38%
Tandy TRS 80 PC1 $149.95
Sinclair ZX80 $199.95
19 inch Color TV $399.95
Under Counter Dishwasher $249.95
Set Of Brass Bamboo Nested Tables $119.99
Plums Lb 39 Cents
Miracle Whip $1.27
Turkey Lb 55 cents
Star Wars Figure Set $29.99
Ladies Felt Beret $5.50
Mens Leather Jacket $129.99
Log Cabin on 5 acres 3 bedroom 1 bath $19,900
Lady Diana Spencer marries Charles, Prince of Wales
More Information for the Charles and Diana Royal Wedding
The Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer took place during July of 1981. The wedding, held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, attracted crowds of more than 600,000 people to witness the historic event. 3,500 guests, many of them royalty or celebrities, attended the ceremony and an estimated 750 million people, worldwide, watched it on television. The Royal Wedding drew the public’s interest in such an extreme way partially due to Lady Diana Spencer’s attractiveness and charm as well as the perception that Diana and Charles’ relationship was a modern fairy tale.
Space Shuttle Columbia
More Information for First Space Shuttle Mission.
In April of 1981, NASA launched the very first Space Shuttle mission. The Space Shuttle Columbia successfully carried two astronauts, Robert Crippen and John Young, into space to complete the inaugural flight of the Space Shuttle program. The purpose of the mission was to test the stability of the new spacecraft and to safely launch the vehicle into space and return it to Earth so that the craft was reusable. The total length of the mission was two days, six hours, twenty minutes, fifty-three seconds.
Venera 13 Spacecraft
More Information and Timeline for the Venera 13 Spacecraft
The Venera 13 Spacecraft is launched by the USSR on October 30th, 1981. Venera 13 was created, along with the identical Venera 14 spacecraft, as two-part spacecrafts. One part was the lander that would be dropped to the surface of Venus to conduct experiments and the other was the bus that would carry the landers and relay data between the landers and Earth as well as conducting other experiments. The Venera 13 spacecraft reached Venus on March 1, 1982 and successfully deposited its lander. Once on the surface of Venus it took the first panoramic color photos of the landscape and drilled into the surface of the planet to take a sample. The spacecraft also studied cosmic gamma-ray bursts. The craft stopped communicating results in March of 1983.
Poland Martial Law
1. The military leaders of Poland declare a state of emergency and place the nation under martial law during December of 1981.
2. The government arrested the leaders of the Solidarity trade union who had been making progress in what was described as a peaceful revolution up to that point.
3. The move cut off the Polish people from the rest of the world and imposed curfews.
4. The United States responded by placing economic sanctions on the country.
5. The authoritarian-led government claimed that the crackdown was necessary to prevent a civil war, but it was more likely used as a means to crush political opposition coming from the Solidarity movement.
6. Martial law was kept in place until July of 1983 and many of the political prisoners were not released until 1986.
Sandra Day O'Connor
1. President Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O'Connor to the US Supreme Court on July 7th
2. The confirmation hearing was held at the beginning of September
and by the end of the month the US Senate voted in favor of adding her to the court with a 99-0 vote (one Senator was absent).
3. Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female justice on the United States Supreme Court on September 25th
. Her votes and opinions while on the court cast her as a moderate conservative.
4. She had previously held positions as an Arizona state senator (1969
- 1975), Superior Court judge for Maricopa County (1975
- 1979), and a judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals (1979
5. She announced that she would retire on July 1st
6. She was replaced by Justice Samuel Alito in January 31st
Raiders of the Lost Ark
More Information for Raiders of the Lost Ark
The popular film “Raiders of the Lost Ark” makes its debut in theaters throughout the United States during June of 1981. The comedy-driven action/adventure film, created by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, was the first to feature the character of Indiana Jones. Jones, portrayed by actor Harrison Ford, was a cavalier archaeology professor intent on protecting the world’s most precious artifacts, was an instant favorite of moviegoers. Raiders of the Lost Ark became the highest grossing film of 1981 and remains one of the most popular and highest grossing film of all time.
Pope John Paul II
More Information and Timeline for the Pope Assassination Attempt
- Pope John Paul II, is shot on on May 13th but not killed in Vatican City.
On May 13th
of 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot by would-be assassin Mehment Ali Agca. The Pope survived the attack but sustained gunshot wounds to his left hand, right arm, and abdomen. Agca’s motive for the attempted assassination was unknown although at one point he suggested that the KGB and the country of Bulgaria were behind it. In July of 1981 he was sentenced to prison for life in Italy. Soon after the shooting Pope John Paul II publicly stated that he had already forgiven Agca. In 2010, Agca was released from prison. Agca was a Turkish national who had been previously convicted of the murder of a journalist in 1979 but had escaped his incarceration.
DeLorean Cars Debut
The first DeLorean DMC-12 futuristic sports car were produced on January 21st
. Known for its distinctive gull-wing doors and stainless steel body panels, the vehicle garnered a lot of attention for its unusual look. It was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro who had also designed cars for major companies including Alfa Romeo, BMW, Fiat, and Maserati, throughout his career. The DeLorean was only manufactured for two years and about 9,000 vehicles were produced in total. The company quickly ran into financial troubles and its founder, John DeLorean, was charged with conspiracy to smuggle drugs. The DeLorean was most well-known for being featured as the time travel machine used in the popular 1985
film “Back to the Future.”
The First London Marathon
More Information for the first London Marathon
The first London Marathon is held in March of 1981. About 7,000 people participated in the first marathon with 6,255 participants completing the 26 mile race. It was created by former Olympians Chris Brasher and John Disley with the intention to raise money for charity. Thousands of spectators gathered along the route of the first race to cheer on the participants, and since it began it has been held during the spring every year, continuing to grow in size and popularity. The first winners were Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen for the men, crossing the finish line together, and Joyce Smith for the women.
Mozart's undiscovered symphony
More Information and Timeline for Mozart's undiscovered symphony.
- An unknown piece of music written by Mozart is discovered at the Bavarian State Library.
In February of 1981 it is announced that the Bavarian State Library in Germany had acquired a previously unknown piece of music written by famed composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The piece of music was described as a three-movement symphony in F-Major that had been composed by Mozart at the age of nine while he had been living in London in 1765. The library stated that they had found the symphony in a bundle of 107 manuscripts that had been purchased from an anonymous seller for about $300,000. They also announced that a concert would be held to perform it.
1981 Mens and Womens Fashion Clothes
Part of our Collection of Clothing From The1980's
Calendar For The Year 1981
Part of our Collection of Toys From 1981
Toys From The Year 1981
More News and Key Events From 1981
- Ronald Reagan becomes US President
First high speed train service in Europe
- The first high speed train service in Europe begins with the French TGV / high-speed train between Paris and Lyon
- Following plans between European Countries and the US to base Nuclear Missiles in Europe protesters including those at Greenham Common picket US bases
Diablo Canyon Nuclear Reactor
- Anti nuclear protesters invade the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Reactor in California
Iran releases 52 American hostages
- 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
UK privatisation of Nationalised Industries
- Thatcher Government in England begin privatisation of Nationalised Industries creating economic revival , this format is later emulated in many other countries throughout the world
Air traffic controllers strike
- Air traffic controllers strike causing chaos in the US and The US President Ronald Reagan Fires Them
- Irish Republican Army member Bobby Sands dies on May 5th while on the hunger strike, During that time Bobby Sands is elected to Westminster as the MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone.
Wreck of the Titanic
- Jack Grimm announces that he believed he found part of the wreck of the Titanic in the North Atlantic, he and his researchers did not in fact find the location of the wreck but had passed close by it unknowingly. A joint French-American expedition run by Robert D. Ballard would go on to find the location of the wreck in 1985.
- Muhammad Ali finally retires with career record of 55 wins and 5 defeats
New disability eligibility rules
- US brings in new disability eligibility rules for those claiming disability affecting 500,000 who lose benefits
Rupert Murdoch shuts down the Sunday Times
- 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 .
The Yorkshire Ripper
- Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper is caught, and imprisoned for life for 13 counts of murder
Earthquake hits Athens
- Earthquake hits Athens, killing 16 people
Anwar Sadat is assassinated
- Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is assassinated
Sandra Day O'Connor
- Sandra Day O'Connor is nominated to become the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
American test-tube baby
- 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 )
Frequent Flyer Miles
- The introduction of the first Frequent Flyer Miles AAdvantage introduced by American Airlines ( frequent flyer miles can be redeemed for free air travel )
Social Democratic Party SDP
- 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
Pakistan Airways Hostages
- 147 passengers and crew of a Pakistan Airways are taken hostage and released in Syria
Attempted coup in Bangladesh
- Attempted coup in Bangladesh and the President Ziaur Rahman is murdered
Antigua and Barbuda
- Antigua and Barbuda Gains Independence From Great Britain
- MTV (Music Television) is launched August 1st
- Simon And Garfunkel Reunite for concert in New Yorks Central Park
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Superman II
- Nine to Five
- Any Which Way You Can
- The Cannonball Run
- For Your Eyes Only
- On Golden Pond
- Chariots of Fire
- John Lennon
- 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
- David Bowie
Born This Year
Born This Year 1981
Jennifer Tisdale September 18th
Allison Crowe November 16th
Britney Spears December 2nd
Justin Timberlake January 31st
- Scientists identifyThe 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 )
USA Columbia was first reusable space vehicle
Major World Political Leaders
Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser
President João Figueiredo
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
Chairman of the People's Republic of China Post Abolished
President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Till 21 May
President François Mitterrand
From 21 May
Chancellor Helmut Schmidt
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
Prime Minister Arnaldo Forlani
Till 28 June
Prime Minister Giovanni Spadolini
From 28 June
Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki
President José López Portillo
Russia / Soviet Union
Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars Leonid Brezhnev
Prime Minister Pieter Willem Botha
President Jimmy Carter
Till January 20,
President Ronald Reagan
From January 20,
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher