20 Notable Events in 1980

Today we’re tackling the year that was 1980. I was only 3 years old back then, so I have a very vague recollection of events that occurred in this year.

History has always fascinated me, and I’m sure that it has the same effect on many of you reading this post. I’m done beating around the bush, so let’s get into it…

Here are 20 Notable Events in 1980:

1. The USA led a boycott of the Moscow olympics

The reason for this was because the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan. Apparently the US didn’t like that.

2. John Lennon was shot and killed

The shooting happened outside his apartment building in New York City on the 8th of December 1980. He was shot by Mark David Chapman (who was obsessed with the novel The Catcher & The Rhye).

John Lennon and Yoko Ono

3. John Bonham died in 1980

The Led Zeppelin drummer died in Clewer, Berkshire, England. The cause was labeled as accidental death. He had the equivalent of 40 vodka shots in his system (thanks to a day of heavy drinking and rehearsing).

John Bonham

4. CNN was launched

Ted Turner’s CNN started broadcasting on the 1st of June 1980. They were the first channel in television history to broadcast 24 hour News. CNN was also the first all-news channel in the USA.


5. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes back was released

It was the biggest grossing movie of that year. It raked in over $290 million. The film was made on a budget of only $18 million.

The Empire Strikes back

6. Earth’s population reached 4.4 billion

The planet’s population grew with 700 million in the 10 years between 1970 and 1980. Earth’s current population is estimated at 7.5 billion.

7. Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall was banned in South Africa

The Apartheid government featured that it might be used as a song of liberty by black school children.

Another Brick In The Wall 

8. Zimbabwe gained independence from the UK

The country was previously known as Rhodesia. Robert Mugabe was sworn in as the prime minister of the new country. He was the president of Zimbabwe until he was removed from office in 2017.

Zimbabwe Flag

9. The Pac-Man Arcade Game was released

Pac-Man was developed by Namco in Japan. The original Japanese title of Puck Man was changed to Pac-Man for international releases. This was done to prevent defacement of the arcade game machines.

Pac-Man Arcade Game

10. AC/DC frontman Bon Scott died

Bon Scott was found dead in London on the 19th of February  1980. The official cause was listed on the death certificate as “acute alcohol poisoning” and classified as “death by misadventure”.

Bon Scott

11. Ronald Reagan was elected as US President

Reagan defeated the Democratic President Jimmy Carter. He received the highest number of electoral votes ever won by a non-incumbent presidential candidate.

Ronald Reagan

12. Janice Brown made the first long-distance solar-powered flight

The former teacher did this in a tiny craft called the Solar Challenger. She flew a distance of 6 miles (9.65 km) in 22 minutes near Marana, Arizona in the USA.

Solar Challenger

13. Voyager I reached Saturn

The spacecraft returned data on the planet’s 14 moons and 1,000+ rings in November 1980.


14. Alfred Hitchcock died

The Master of Suspense directed more than 50 feature films in his career spanning 6 decades. His films garnered a total of 46 Oscar nominations and six wins. The official cause of death was kidney failure. He died on the 29th of April 1980.

Alfred Hitchcock

15. Mount Saint Helens errupted

The active stratovolcano is located in Skamania County, Washington. It was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in US history.

Mount Saint Helens

57 people were killed, 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways and 185 miles (298 km) of highway were destroyed. A massive debris avalanche triggered by an earthquake caused a lateral eruption. This reduced the elevation of the mountain’s summit from 9,677 ft (2,950m) to 8,363 ft (2,549m) and left a 1 mile (1.6 km) wide horseshoe-shaped crater.

16. The Rubik’s Cube made its international debut

The puzzle was invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik. It was licensed to be sold by Ideal Toy Corporation in 1980. The toy made its debut at the International Toy Fair in New York City.

The Rubik's Cube

17. Richard Pryor set himself on fire

The famous actor / comedian did this when he was freebasing cocaine and drinking 151-proof rum. He ran down his street in Northridge, California until he was subdued by police.

Richard Pryor

According to his daughter he was in a drug-induced psychosis. He had poured rum over his body and set himself on fire. Prior was given a 1-in-3 chance to live, but he survived and continued to do stand-up.

During his 1982 comedy show, the street-wise comedian joked that the fire was caused by dunking a cookie into a glass of low-fat and pasteurized milk.

18.  83 million TV viewers tuned in to find out “Who shot J.R?” on Dallas

“Who Shot J.R.?” was used as an advertising catchphrase by American Network CBS. The mystery was finally resolved in the fourth episode of the fourth season in an episode entitled “Who Done It”.

JR Ewing

19. The Iran-Iraq War Started in the Middle East

The war started in September 1980 after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein ordered his forces to invade Western Iran. Fighting only ended in 1988. A formal peace agreement to officially end the war was only signed in August 1990.

Iran-Iraq War

20. John Wayne Gacy Jr was sentenced to death

The Killer Clown raped, tortured and murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978 in the Chicago metropolitan area.

John Wayne Gacy

Well, there you have 20 notable events that happened in 1980. I trust that you found this trip down memory lane interesting. Feel free to comment if you feel that I missed an important event in history that happened in 1980.

Watch this space for updates in the Facts category on Running Wolf’s Rant.


Henno Kruger

Blogger, Desktop Activist, Twitter / Facebook Addict, Music Festival Addict, Avid lover of South African music, Founder and owner of Running Wolf's Rant

Leave a Reply