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World Events during the 1980s

'He who ignores history is destined to repeat it.' - unknown
'History never repeats, I tell myself before I go to sleep.' - Split Enz

The world events of the 1980s show that this decade was not just about big hair, cool music and ghastly fashion. The 80s were not without their share of tradegies and triumphs: many have a striking resemblance to more recent history.

This fact becomes more important when you look at the early 2000s and how many similar events occured two decades earlier. The 80s histroy series starts at the tragic events that marked late 1979-1980 and set the scene for many conflicts of the decade.

  • The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The first tanks entered during December 1979 with about 40,000 personnel, by 1985 this had grown to 118,000 [In October 2001, a US-lead coalition invaded Afghanistan as part of the search for suspects in the 2001 World Trade Center bombing on September 11].
  • As a result of growing tensions with the USSR over Afghanistan, the US boycott the 1980 Olympic games.
  • Ronald Reagan was elected US President with George (no W.) Bush as vice president. Reagan won 489 electoral votes to 49 for President Jimmy Carter. RR and GB took office January 20, 1981.
  • President Carter attempted to free US hostages held in Iran and it backfires. After becoming president, Ronald Reagan had another attempt and took credit for ultimately freeing the hostages.
  • John Lennon was shot and killed in New York on Monday, 8 December 1980. The gunman, Mark Chapman, apparently shouted 'I am the Catcher in the Rye' just before dropping to the ground and firing the weapon.
  • The Supreme Court in the US allowed corporations to patent living organisms.
  • WHO (World Health Organisation) announced that small pox had been eradicated [In the 2000's they were still debating whether to destroy the last known cultures of the disease, and the disease was subsequently flagged as a likely bioterrorism weapon].
  • The Rubik's Cube craze began.
  • Worldwide, 'The Empire Strikes Back' was the highest grossing film of 1980. Followed by 'Superman II' and '9 to 5'. 'Ordinary People' took out the best picture Academy award.
  • A world event that would leave its influence decades later, Pacman was released - and went on to be the most successful arcade game of all time.
  • Baby Azaria Chamberlain disappears from a at Ayers Rock (Uluru), parents say that a dingo took the baby. Thus sparking a drawn out court case and an even more drawn out film - A Cry in the Dark (released 1988).
  • In November half the world finally finds out who shot JR in TV's Dallas. The other half is heard saying who gives a shit?
Tell me more: 1981.

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