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 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%
More Examples
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

Wellsboro, Pennsylvania
Log Cabin on 5 acres 3 bedroom 1 bath $19,900

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 privatisation of Nationalised 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 and The US President Ronald Reagan Fires Them
Northern Ireland
  • 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.

United States
  • First Flight of US 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.

  • The Soviet Union launches the Venera 13 Space Probe.
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.

  • Ronald Reagan becomes US President
  • 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
  • Anti nuclear protesters invade the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Reactor in California
  • Researchers find the wreck of the Titanic in the North Atlantic
  • Muhammad Ali finally retires with career record of 55 wins and 5 defeats
  • US brings in new disability eligibility rules for those claiming disability affecting 500,000 who lose benefits
United States
  • The successful and popular film "Raiders of the Lost Ark" debuts in theaters across the United States.
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.

  • 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
Vatican City
  • Pope John Paul II, is shot on on May 13th but not killed in Vatican City.
More Information and Timeline for the Pope Assassination Attempt
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.

United Kingdom
  • 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.

  • 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
  • An unknown piece of music written by Mozart is discovered at the Bavarian State Library.
More Information and Timeline for Mozart's undiscovered symphony.
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
Fashion Clothing From 1981

1981 Childrens Toys

Part of our toy collection From The1980's

Kids Toys From 81


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

Popular Culture 1981

  • MTV (Music Television) is launched August 1st
  • Simon And Garfunkel Reunite for concert in New Yorks 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

Born This Year 1981

Jennifer Tisdale September 18th
Allison Crowe November 16th
Britney Spears December 2nd
Justin Timberlake January 31st

1981 Calendar

Major World Political Leaders 1981

Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser Brazil President João Figueiredo Canada Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau

China Chairman of the People's Republic of China Post Abolished

France President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing Till 21 May
France President François Mitterrand From 21 May

Germany Chancellor Helmut Schmidt
India Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

Italy Prime Minister Arnaldo Forlani Till 28 June
Italy Prime Minister Giovanni Spadolini From 28 June
Japan Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki Mexico President José López Portillo Russia / Soviet Union
Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars Leonid Brezhnev South Africa Prime Minister Pieter Willem Botha United States President Jimmy Carter Till January 20,
United States President Ronald Reagan From January 20,
United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher