The People History Home

1989 Major News Events 35 Years Ago

  1. China - Tiananmen Square Protests
  2. United Kingdom - Hillsborough Disaster
  3. The Galileo Spacecraft is launched by NASA
  4. After 30 years the Cold War between East and West ends following the Malta conference and the Berlin Wall comes down
  5. In Alaska's Prince William Sound the Exxon Valdez spills 240,000 barrels (11 million gallons) of oil after running aground
  6. Nintendo releases the Game Boy in Japan in April and in North America in July
  7. Free Elections in Poland bring Solidarity to power
  8. 200,000 protesters in Prague, Czechoslovakia call for the resignation of the country's communist government in the "Velvet Revolution".
  9. The Phillips 66 Chemical Complex in Houston, Texas has a series of explosions and fires killing 23 employees.
  10. The Savings and Loan Crisis leads to nearly 1/4 of all savings and loan associations requiring bailout

More Detailed Information on each Event and those not included can be found below

What Happened in 1989 Major Events, Born This Year, Popular Culture, Prices

What happened in 1989 Major News Stories include Berlin Wall Comes Down, First release of Microsoft Office, Tiananmen Square Protests lead to Militiary Intervention, Hillsborough disaster, Savings and Loan Crisis, Exxon Valdez Enviromental disaster in Alaska, 486 series of microprocessor introduced, Toyota launches Lexus, Game Boy Launched, Civil War in Lebanon, Elections in Poland bring Solidarity to power,

1989 In Technology the 486 series of microprocessor is released by Intel opening the way for the next generation of much more powerful PC's and Microsoft releases it's Office Suite including Spreadsheet, Word Processor, Database and Presentation Software which today still dominates in office applications. Following Massive protests against the Berlin Wall bringing about the collapse of The Berlin Wall and the East German Government both are dismantled which leads after many years to the reunification of East and West Germany. In China Pro democracy protesters clash with Chinese Security Forces in Tiananmen Square on June 4 and the pictures of a man taking on a tank are seen on TV news throughout the world.

Cost of Living 1989 - How Much things cost

Yearly Inflation Rate USA4.83%

Year End Close Dow Jones 2753

Interest Rates Year End Federal Reserve 10.50%

Average Cost of new house $120,000.00

Average Income per year $27,450.00

Average Monthly Rent $420.00

Average Price for new car $15,3500.00

1 gallon of gas 97 cents

US Postage Stamp 25 cents

BMW 325 $21,400

Ford Probe $12,695

Ham and Cheese Pizza $2.59

Rib Eye Steak Lb $3.79

Ritz Crackers $1.79

Barbie's Dancetime Shop $24.98

Ghostbusters Table-top Pinball $19.85

Logitech Mouse $89.99

Placerville, California
Country Home 1 acre 4 bedrooms wrap round porch Bay Windows $166,000

A few UK Examples in Pounds Sterling

Average House Price 71,733

Gallon of Petrol 1.68

Yearly Inflation Rate UK 7.8%

China - Tiananmen Square Protests

In April, about 100,000 students gather at Beijing's Tiananmen Square to commemorate Hu Yaobang, the deposed reform-minded leader of the Chinese Communist Party, and voice their discontent with China's authoritative communist government. They demanded democratic reforms and an end to corruption in the Chinese Communist system. This was the beginning of the mass demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. In May, the Chinese Government declared martial law. Protests continued to grow throughout April and May until they were ended with violent military force in early June.

United Kingdom - Hillsborough Disaster

1. On April 15th, the FA Cup semi-final between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England, turned to tragedy when 96 people were crushed to death, many of them teenagers and children. Estimates stated over 700 people were injured in the event.

2. The problems were caused by too many Liverpool fans being allowed in to the back of an already full stand at the Leppings Lane end of the ground, as more fans were allowed in those already there were pushed forward and crushed against the high, wired-topped safety fences.

3. The Taylor Report was published in 1990 to determine causes.

4. The Hillsborough Independent Panel was created in 2009 to re-examine causes.

5. After investigations concluded, it was determined that a poor police planning, a slow emergency response, and inherent design issues in the stadium were major contributing factors to the disaster. It was also determined that the fans were not at fault for the tragedy.

6. In June of 2017, David Duckenfield (the former Chief Superintendent and Match Commander at the time of the disaster) and five others were charged in relation to the deaths. Duckenfield faced 95 charges of manslaughter as the 96th victim died several years after the event.

Comment From Neil, a man who lived through the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster: "The Liverpool fans were not as you reported allowed in the ground they were forced into an overfilled section of leppings lane, sadly I As one of many that got out of the death pen now relive that day over and over it ruined my life. Now after all the years not a single Liverpool fan has been charged with an offence regarding the death or the 96 in the ground and have probably never heard about the 97th victims who died in a coma later, nor will you have reported or the terror and guilt of those of us that escaped that day"

The Galileo Spacecraft is launched by NASA on October 18th

More Information for the Galileo Spacecraft

On October 18th, 1989 NASA launched the Galileo spacecraft. The Galileo spacecraft’s mission was to probe Jupiter’s atmosphere and study the largest planet and its moons for two years. The spacecraft was purposefully plunged into Jupiter’s atmosphere on September 21st, 2003 to take some final measurements and be destroyed. On its way to Jupiter, Galileo spent time studying Earth, Venus, the Moon, and two asteroids. It orbited Jupiter for two years and observed the surrounding satellites, collecting amazing photos of the planet and identifying evidence that there was possibly liquid water under the surface of Europa, a moon of Jupiter. The Galileo Spacecraft was hugely successful in its missions and made several new and exciting discoveries.

Cold War Ending

After 30 years the Cold War between East and West ends following the Malta conference and the Berlin Wall comes down

More Information and Timeline for the Malta Summit

United States President George Bush and Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev meet to discuss the end of the Cold War on December 2nd and 3rd of 1989. They held their Summit in Malta not long after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Soviet Union was beginning its break down at the time of the meeting and signaled an easing of tensions between the two world powers. Bush and Gorbachev declared an end to the Cold War principles and a continued commitment to reducing arms and cooperating. At the end of the two day meeting they effectively declared an end to the Cold War, an ideological and tension conflict stemming from the end of World War II.

From our 1989 Toys Page

My First Sony CD Player

Manufacturer: Sony
Price: $189.10

Sony compact disc player for kids! Plays 5-in. CD's or CD-3 software. Features Auto-Music Sensor, music search, 3 in. speaker, microphone, and line-out jack.

From our 1980s Furniture Page

1989 Jewelry Armoire

1989 Jewelry Armoire

Price: $299.99

Queen Anne style jewelry armoire has a top that opens to expose an adjustable stand-up mirror, two velvet-lined necklace compartments that keep necklaces organized. Five velvet-lined jewelry drawers with compartments for rings, earrings, etc. Special compartment under mirror.

1980s Ladies Dresses

1989 Two Piece Tunic Dress

From 1989 Two Piece Tunic Dress

Price: $75.00

Description : Sophisticated details highlight this flattering two-piece dress. The long tunic top features a diagonal tucked bottom accentuated by a bow with a rhinestone-look clasp. The silhouette is completed by short sleeves with tuck detailing and shoulder pads. Back zipper closure. The skirt is straight cut with an elastic waist and back slit. Woven of machine washable polyester. Colors are iris blue or black.

1980s Home Electrical

1989 Two-Inch LCD TV

1989 Two-Inch LCD TV

Price: $249.99

This innovative take-along color TV from Casio has high resolution color liquid crystal display and a high quality matrix system for picture sharpness. VHF/UHF telescoping antenna.

Exxon Valdez

In Alaska's Prince William Sound the Exxon Valdez spills 240,000 barrels (11 million gallons) of oil after running aground

More Information and Timeline for Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

The Exxon Valdez oil tanker becomes grounded in Alaska’s Prince William Sound on March 24th, 1989. The tanker’s hull ruptures and around eleven million gallons of crude oil begins spilling into the ocean. The oil spill turned into a huge ecological disaster and thousands of wildlife were harmed or died as a result. About ten thousand people were involved in the clean-up and there was millions of dollars of damage done to the environment. The local economies that relied on fishing and tourism also suffered as a result of the oil spill, losing millions of dollars in the following years. Over 1,000 miles of coastline was damaged by the spill and 25 years later some areas and wildlife are still being negatively impacted.

Japanese Emperor Hirohito Dies

Japanese Emperor Hirohito died at the age of 87 during January, ending a 63 year long reign. His eldest son Akihito succeeded him as the Emperor of Japan. Following his death, he became known as Emperor Shōwa and the time he was in power became known as the Shōwa period according to Japanese tradition. Hirohito was the leader and face of Japan throughout its massive imperial expansion and militarization from the 1920s throughout World War II. He also oversaw the nation’s recovery following the war and ushered in a new era of peace and prosperity which saw Japan grow from the world’s ninth largest economy to the second largest by the time of his death.

Communist coup Afghanistan

1. In 1978 the President of Afghanistan, Mohammad Daud Khan, was overthrown and replaced by Nur Mohammad Taraki in a Communist coup. Taraki was then deposed and murdered by rival Hafizullah Amin in another coup.

2. In December< of 1979, the Soviet Red Army invaded Afghanistan and overthrew Amin, installing Soviet-backed leader Babrak Karmel.

3. The conflict was fought by the USSR and Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against insurgent groups known as mujahideen backed by the United States.

4. The Soviet-Afghan war devolved into a stalemate and by April of 1988 the Soviet Union signed a peace agreement and began removing troops.

5. In February of 1989 the final group of Soviet troops left after 9 years of conflict.

Game Boy Released

Nintendo releases the Game Boy in Japan in April and in North America in July

More Information and Timeline for Nintendo Game Boy Release

Nintendo releases the Game Boy handheld gaming system in North America on July 31st, 1989. The Game Boy was the first 8-bit handheld system that used different cartridges that could be interchanged to play different games. It had already been released in Japan in April of 1989 and was later released in Europe in September of 1990. It was created by Nintendo employee Gunpei Yokoi who worked in the research and development department. Gunpei Yokoi’ s other notable creation other than the Game Boy was the Metroid video game series.

Baltic Way peaceful protest

More Information and Timeline for the Baltic Way Protest

On August 23rd, the "Baltic Way" peaceful protest was held. During this protest an estimated two million people joined hands to form a human chain that spanned over three-hundred and seventy miles across the Baltic region.

The chain went through Soviet-controlled Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The protest was organized by pro-independence groups and was meant to showcase solidarity between the nations in Baltic region, highlighting their desire for independence from the USSR.

The protest was held on the 50th anniversary of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, an agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that divided Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres and allowed for the occupation of the Baltic region by the USSR in 1940. All three countries were independent from the Soviet Union by 1991.

More News and Key Events From 1989

Russia pulls out of Afghanistan

USSR pulls out of Afghanistan

PLO and Israel

PLO and Israel begin preliminary talks

Tokyo Stock Market Crash

Tokyo Stock Market Crash ends Japans long period of high Economic Growth

Denmark same sex couples

The Registered Partnership law is passed in Denmark which grants same sex couples many of the rights and responsibilities of marriage

South Africa

Violence in black townships worsen with over 2,500 killed

South Africa F.W. de Klerk Elected

New Prime Minister in South Africa F.W. de Klerk starts to dismantle apartheid

Poland Solidarity

Free Elections in Poland bring Solidarity to power

Czechoslovakia Velvet Revolution

200,000 protesters in Prague, Czechoslovakia call for the resignation of the country's communist government in the "Velvet Revolution".

Czechoslovakia elections

Following the protests free elections are held in Czechoslovakia

Russia elections

Partial elections in USSR

Germany protests

Massive protests and either side of the Berlin Wall bring about the collapse of the East German Government and the Berlin Wall is breached and eventually dismantled and The Brandenburg Gate opened

China Tiananmen Square

Thousands of Students occupy Tiananmen Square in Beijing China protesting for democracy , Chinese Government Declares martial law and Hundreds of Demonstrators are killed

World China Sanctions

Following the Tiananmen Square incident the US and other countries around the world place sanctions on China

U.S. George Bush Snr

George Bush Snr becomes president of the United States

United States Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court ruled on June 21st that flag burning as a form of political protest is an act of protected speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution.

U.S. Phillips 66

The Phillips 66 Chemical Complex in Houston, Texas has a series of explosions and fires killing 23 employees.

Bangladesh tornadoes

One of the deadliest tornadoes in modern times strikes Saturia, Bangladesh Tornado killing as many as 1,300

Japan Lexus

Toyota launches it's luxury brand the Lexus

U.S. Ted Bundy

Serial killer Ted Bundy is executed in Florida's electric chair

U.S. Mirage Hotel and Casino

The Mirage Hotel and Casino opens in Las Vegas as the first huge resort hotel

European Union chlorofluorocarbons

12 European Community nations agree to ban the production of all chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by the end century

Columbia Drug Lords

United States provide assistance to Columbia Government to Battle Drug Lords

Egypt Great Pyramid of Giza

In Egypt, a 4,400-year-old mummy is found in the Great Pyramid of Giza

UK 737 crashes

A UK 737 crashes on the M1 Motorway


Sky TV Launched In UK

UK Hillsborough disaster

Hillsborough disaster occurred on April 15 News Events , 1989, at Hillsborough, a football stadium in Sheffield, England, resulting in the loss of 96 lives.

UK Stonehenge

British police arrest 250 for celebrating the summer solstice at Stonehenge

U.S. Leona Helmsley

Leona Helmsley the billionaire hotel operator is convicted on Tax Fraud Charges

UK Marchioness

Marchioness pleasure boat collides with a barge on the River Thames adjacent to Southwark Bridge and 51 die.

U.S. Loma Prieta earthquake

The Loma Prieta earthquake, measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale, strikes San Francisco Bay Area in California, killing 63

U.S. Savings and Loan Crisis

The Savings and Loan Crisis leads to nearly 1/4 of all savings and loan associations requiring bailout dur to poor real estate lending practices and an easing of regulatory oversight .

The US Government provides a $150 billion bail out for hundreds of saving and loan associations

Canada École Polytechnique

Marc Lépine shoots and kills 14 women students at École Polytechnique in Montreal

World Montreal Protocol

The Montreal Protocol to end ozone depletion enters into force

Puerto Rico Hurricane Hugo

Hurricane Hugo ( Category 5 ) strikes Puerto Rico, St. Croix, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, South Carolina and North Carolina, the hurricane claimed over 80 lives and in 1989 was the costliest hurricane in financial terms up the that date.

Iran Salman Rushdie

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issues a ( FATWA ) death sentence on British writer Salman Rushdie for the Satanic Verses

U.S.Yugo Cars

Yugo Cars go bankrupt

U.S. Ford buys Jaguar

Ford buys Jaguar

Lebanon Civil War

Civil War in Lebanon increases between Christian and Islamic Fundamentalists

Popular Culture 1989

The first episodes of the Simpsons are shown

Popular Films

Popular Films


Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Lethal Weapon 2


Back to the Future Part II

Ghostbusters II

The Little Mermaid

Driving Miss Daisy


Dead Poets Society

Licence to Kill

Honey, I Shrunk The Kids

My Left Foot

When Harry Met Sally.

Popular Musicians

Duran Duran

Paul McCartney

Phil Collins




The Bangles


New Kids On The Block



Depeche Mode

Paula Abdul

Garth Brooks

Elvis Costello


The first of 24 satellites of the Global Positioning System is placed into orbit

Nintendo begin selling the Game Boy in Japan

Voyager II passes the planet Neptune and its moon Triton and sends pictures back to earth.

The 486 series of microprocessor introduced by Intel.

Scientists pronounce 1989 as the warmest on record possibly a sign of the greenhouse effect

Florida and Virginia allow use of DNA genetic fingerprinting evidence as admissible

First release of Microsoft Office. which was a bundle of Microsoft's office applications, such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel , Dependent on the Version you purchased would depend on which applications were included

Calendar For The Year 1989

1989 Calendar

Major World Political Leaders

Australia Prime Minister Bob Hawke

Brazil President José Sarney

Canada Prime Minister Brian Mulroney

China Chairman of the People's Republic of China Yang Shangkun

France President François Mitterrand

Germany Chancellor Helmut Kohl

India Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi Till 2 December

India Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh From 2 December

Italy Prime Minister Ciriaco de Mita Till 22 July

Italy Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti From 22 July

Japan Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita Till 3 June

Japan Prime Minister Sosuke Uno From 3 June

Japan Prime Minister Sosuke Uno Till August 10

Japan Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu From 10 August

Mexico President Carlos Salinas de Gortari

Russia / Soviet Union General Secretary of the CPSU Mikhail Gorbachev

South Africa State President Pieter Willem Botha Till 15 August

South Africa State President Frederik Willem de Klerk From 20 September

United States President Ronald Reagan Till January 20,

United States President George H. W. Bush From January 20,

United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher