Home » 80s Capsule 1980 – What Happened In 1980?

80s Capsule 1980 – What Happened In 1980?

by Kim

In 1980 the world was a very different place with many significant changes having taken place in the previous decade or so.

Social Politics

In January the year began with a massive blizzard that paralyzed some of the East Coast. The Bay of Pigs Invasion in Cuba was launched in April by Castro. In June we saw John Lennon shot dead outside his apartment building. The month would close out with the explosion at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal India which killed 25,000. Pamela Anderson became a huge star as she posed nude for Playboy magazine.

A new President was being inaugurated on January 20th: Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s first year in office would be dominated by Iran Contra Scandal, Inflation, and a recession. There would be an assassination attempt on Reagan in March, a hostage crisis in Iran in April that led to the release of 52 American hostages (later reduced to 8), and the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster which killed all 7 crew members on January 28th.


The beginning of the decade was mostly dominated by television shows like Dallas, Dynasty, The Love Boat, Knight Rider, Mork & Mindy, and Magnum P.I. John Travolta rocked a mullet in Saturday Night Fever while Dan Ackroyd had absurd sideburns on Saturday Night Live.

1980 was a big year for movies with films like Blade Runner, The Empire Strikes Back and E.T. In movies we also saw Gremlins, The Shining, Risky Business, and Poltergeist. TV shows also made their mark with M*A*S*H, Family Ties, Cheers and Knight Rider.

1980 was also a big year for music. Elvis died on August 16th, and John Lennon got killed on December 8th. We saw Gwen Stefani and No Doubt debut with “Don’t Speak” in September. Phil Collins debuted with “In The Air Tonight” in October. George Michael released his first solo album Faith in November. Bryan Adams released “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” in January. Duran Duran made their debut with “Rio” in March. U2’s “With Or Without You” topped the charts in May (the song would spend 14 weeks at #1). Roger Taylor of Queen released the album “The Miracle” in June. John Mellencamp’s debut album “Cripple Creek” was released on August 20th. Michael Jackson’s Thriller made its debut in November. Madonna released her first single “Everybody” in March and she would go on to release 7 more, plus a greatest hits collection.


The year saw some major sporting events as well. The New York Yankees won the World Series, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won his NBA MVP award, Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s longball record, and the Los Angeles Lakers won their 5th straight NBA title.

1980 saw an all-time high of 31 Super Bowls, with the 49ers beating the Bengals 35-10 and earning their second Super Bowl win. Their season would end with them defeating the Denver Broncos 20-16 in Super Bowl XVI. The 49ers also won their 4th straight NFC championship game (they lost to Washington 16-0).

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