World Events 78-81

Here is what was going on in the world while we were in school during our Sophomore, Junior, and Senior years.

World Events 1978-1981


Sophomore Year

August 6, 1978

Pope Paul the Sixth died at Castel Gandolfo at age 80.

August 8, 1978

The US launched "Pioneer Venus Two," which carried scientific probes to study the atmosphere of Venus.

August 17, 1978

The first successful trans-Atlantic balloon flight ended as Maxie Anderson, Ben Abruzzo and Larry Newman landed their "Double Eagle Two" outside Paris.

August 26, 1978

Cardinal Albino Luciani of Venice was elected the 264th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church following the death of Paul the Sixth. The new pontiff took the name Pope John Paul the First.

September 3, 1978

Pope John Paul the First was installed as the 264th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.

September 17, 1978

After meeting at Camp David, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed a framework for a peace treaty.

September 25, 1978

144 people were killed when a Pacific Southwest Airlines Boeing 727 and a private plane collided over San Diego.

September 29, 1978

Pope John Paul the First was found dead in his Vatican apartment just over a month after becoming head of the Roman Catholic Church.

October 4, 1978

Funeral services were held at the Vatican for Pope John Paul the First.

October 10, 1978

President Carter signed a bill authorizing the Susan B. Anthony dollar.

October 16, 1978

The College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church chose Cardinal Karol Wojtyla to be the new pope; he took the name John Paul the Second.

October 17, 1978

President Carter signed a bill restoring US citizenship to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

October 27, 1978

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin were named winners of the Nobel Peace Prize for their progress toward achieving a Middle East accord.

November 18, 1978

California Congressman Leo J. Ryan and four other people were killed in Jonestown, Guyana, by members of the Peoples Temple; the killings were followed by a night of mass murder and suicide by 912 cult members.

November 27, 1978

San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk, a gay-rights activist, were shot to death inside City Hall by former supervisor Dan White.

December 4, 1978

San Francisco got its first female mayor as City Supervisor Dianne Feinstein was named to replace the assassinated George Moscone.

December 5, 1978

The American space probe "Pioneer Venus One," orbiting Venus, began beaming back its first information and picture of the planet.

December 8, 1978

Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir died in Jerusalem at age 80.

December 13, 1978

The Philadelphia Mint began stamping the Susan B. Anthony dollar, which went into circulation the following July.

December 15, 1978

President Carter announced he would grant diplomatic recognition to Communist China on New Year's Day and sever official relations with Taiwan.

December 31, 1978

Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, marking the end of diplomatic relations with the U.S.

January 7, 1979

Vietnamese forces captured the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, overthrowing the Khmer Rouge government.

January 26, 1979

Former Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller died in New York at age 70.

January 29, 1979

President Carter formally welcomed Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping (duhng shah-oh ping) to the White House, following the establishment of diplomatic relations.

January 30, 1979

The civilian government of Iran announced it had decided to allow Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (hoh-MAY'-nee), who'd been living in exile in France, to return.

February 1, 1979

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini received a tumultuous welcome in Tehran as he ended nearly 15 years of exile, and newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst, whose prison sentence for bank robbery had been commuted by President Jimmy Carter, left a federal prison near San Francisco.

February 11, 1979

Followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized power in Iran.

February 26, 1979

A total solar eclipse cast a moving shadow 175 miles wide from Oregon to North Dakota before moving into Canada.

March 18, 1979

Iranian authorities detained American feminist Kate Millett, a day before deporting her and a companion for what were termed "provocations."

March 19, 1979

The US House of Representatives began televising its day-to-day business.

March 21, 1979

The Egyptian Parliament unanimously approved a peace treaty with Israel.

March 25, 1979

The Camp David peace treaty was signed by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin (men-AH'-kem BAY'-gihn) and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat at the White House.

March 28, 1979

America's worst commercial nuclear accident occurred inside the Unit Two reactor at the Three Mile Island plant near Middletown, Pennsylvania.

April 4, 1979

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the deposed prime minister of Pakistan, was hanged after he was convicted of conspiring to murder a political opponent.

April 11, 1979

Idi Amin was deposed as president of Uganda as rebels and exiles backed by Tanzanian forces seized control.

May 3, 1979

Conservative Party leader Margaret Thatcher was chosen to become Britain's first female prime minister as the Tories ousted the incumbent Labor government in parliamentary elections.

May 22, 1979

Canadians voted in parliamentary elections that put the Progressive Conservatives in power, ending the eleven-year tenure of Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

May 25, 1979

275 people died when an American Airlines DC-10 crashed on takeoff from Chicago's O'Hare airport.

June 2, 1979

Pope John Paul the Second arrived in his native Poland on the first visit by a pope to a Communist country.

June 11, 1979

Actor John Wayne died at age 72.

June 12, 1979

26-year-old cyclist Bryan Allen flew the man-powered Gossamer Albatross across the English Channel.

June 18, 1979

President Carter and Soviet President Leonid I. Brezhnev signed the SALT Two strategic arms limitation treaty in Vienna.

June 20, 1979

ABC News correspondent Bill Stewart was shot to death in Managua, Nicaragua, by a member of President Anastasio Somoza's national guard.

July 11, 1979

The abandoned US space station "Skylab" made a spectacular return to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere and showering debris over the Indian Ocean and Australia.

July 13, 1979

A 45-hour siege by Palestinian guerrillas began at the Egyptian Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.

July 16, 1979

Saddam Hussein became president of Iraq.

July 17, 1979

Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza resigned and fled into exile in Miami.

 Junior Year  

August 23, 1979

Soviet dancer Alexander Godunov defected while the Bolshoi Ballet was on tour in New York.

August 27, 1979

British war hero Lord Louis Mountbatten was killed off the coast of Ireland in a boat explosion claimed by the Irish Republican Army.

September 7, 1979

The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) made its cable TV debut.

September 10, 1979

Four Puerto Rican nationalists imprisoned for a 1954 attack on the US House of Representatives and a 1950 attempt on the life of President Truman were granted clemency by President Carter

September 20, 1979

Jean-Bedel Bokassa, self-styled head of the Central African Empire, was overthrown in a French-supported coup while on a visit to Libya.

September 25, 1979

The musical "Evita" opened on Broadway.

September 27, 1979

Congress gave final approval to forming the Department of Education, the 13th Cabinet agency in US history.

September 29, 1979

Pope John Paul the Second became the first pope to visit Ireland as he arrived for a three-day tour.

October 6, 1979

Pope John Paul the Second, on a week-long US tour, became the first pontiff to visit the White House, where he was received by President Carter.

October 17, 1979

1979, Mother Teresa of India was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

October 20, 1979

The John F. Kennedy Library was dedicated in Boston.

October 22, 1979

1979, the US government allowed the deposed Shah of Iran to travel to New York for medical treatment -- a decision that precipitated the Iran hostage crisis.

October 26, 1979

South Korean President Park Chung-hee was shot to death by the head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, Kim Jae-kyu.

October 29, 1979

On the 50th anniversary of the great stock market crash, anti-nuclear protesters tried but failed to shut down the New York Stock Exchange.

October 30, 1979

President Carter announced his choice of federal appeals judge Shirley Hufstedler to head the newly created Department of Education.

November 1, 1979

First lady Mamie Eisenhower died in Washington DC at age 82.

November 2, 1979

Black militant Joanne Chesimard escaped from a New Jersey prison, where she'd been serving a life sentence for the 1973 slaying of a New Jersey state trooper. (Chesimard, who has since taken the name Assata Shakur, now lives in Cuba.)

November 4, 1979

The Iranian hostage crisis began as militants stormed the United States Embassy in Tehran. For some of the hostages, it was the start of 444 days of captivity.

November 17, 1979

Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the release of 13 female and black American hostages being held at the US Embassy in Tehran.

November 21, 1979

A mob attacked the US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, killing two Americans.

November 28, 1979

An Air New Zealand DC-10 en route to the South Pole crashed into a mountain in Antarctica, killing all 257 people aboard.

December 3, 1979

Eleven people were killed in a crush of fans at Cincinnati's Riverfront Coliseum, where the British rock group The Who was performing.

December 9, 1979

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the religious broadcaster, died in New York City at age 84.

December 12, 1979

In response to the Iran hostage crisis, the Carter administration ordered the removal of most Iranian diplomats in the United States.

December 17, 1979

In a case that aggravated racial tensions, Arthur McDuffie, a black insurance executive, was fatally beaten after a police chase in Miami. (Four white police officers were later acquitted of charges stemming from McDuffie's death.)

December 27, 1979

Soviet forces seized control of Afghanistan. President Hafizullah Amin, who was overthrown and executed, was replaced by Babrak Karmal.

January 5, 1980

Police in England arrested Peter Sutcliffe, a truck driver later convicted of the "Yorkshire Ripper" murders of 13 women.

January 9, 1980

Saudi Arabia beheaded 63 people for their involvement in the November 1979 raid on the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

January 10, 1980

Former AFL-CIO president George Meany died in Washington DC at age 85.

January 28, 1980

Six US diplomats who had avoided being taken hostage at their embassy in Tehran flew out of Iran with the help of Canadian diplomats.

February 2, 1980

Reports surfaced that the FBI had conducted a sting operation targeting members of Congress using phony Arab businessmen in what became known as "Abscam," a codename protested by Arab-Americans.

February 4, 1980

Abolhassan Bani-Sadr was installed as president of Iran by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

February 8, 1980

President Jimmy Carter unveiled a plan to re-introduce draft registration.

February 13, 1980

Opening ceremonies were held in Lake Placid, New York, for the 13th Winter Olympics.

February 22, 1980

The United States Olympic hockey team upset the Soviets at Lake Placid, New York, 4-to-3. (The US team went on to win the gold medal.)

February 24, 1980

The US hockey team defeated Finland, four goals to two, to clinch the gold medal at the Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York.

February 29, 1980

Former Israeli foreign minister Yigal Allon, who had played an important role in the Jewish state's fight for independence, died at age 61.

March 10, 1980

"Scarsdale Diet" author Dr. Herman Tarnower was shot to death in Purchase, New York. (Jean Harris, convicted of murder, served nearly 12 years in prison before being released in January 1993.)

March 12, 1980

A Chicago jury found John Wayne Gacy Junior guilty of the murders of 33 men and boys. (The next day, Gacy was sentenced to death; after years on death row, he was finally executed in May 1994.)

March 13, 1980

A jury in Winamac, Indiana, found Ford Motor Company innocent of reckless homicide in the fiery deaths of three young women riding in a Ford Pinto, and Ford Motor Chairman Henry Ford the Second announced he was stepping down.

March 14, 1980

A Polish airliner crashed while making an emergency landing near Warsaw, killing all 87 people aboard, including 22 members of a U-S amateur boxing team.

March 24, 1980

One of El Salvador's most respected Roman Catholic Church leaders, Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, was shot to death by gunmen as he celebrated Mass in San Salvador.

April 11, 1980

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued regulations specifically prohibiting sexual harassment of workers by supervisors.

April 15, 1980

Existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre died in Paris at the age of 74.

April 18, 1980

Zimbabwe Rhodesia became the independent nation of Zimbabwe.

April 20, 1980

The first Cubans sailing to the United States as part of the massive Mariel boatlift reached Florida.

April 21, 1980

At the Boston Marathon, Rosie Ruiz was the first woman to cross the finish line; however, she was later exposed as a fraud.

April 24, 1980

The United States launched an abortive attempt to free the American hostages in Iran, a mission that resulted in the deaths of eight U-S servicemen.

April 26, 1980

Following an unsuccessful attempt by the United States to rescue the US Embassy hostages in Iran, the Tehran government announced the captives were being scattered to thwart any future rescue effort.

April 28, 1980

President Carter accepted the resignation of Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, who had opposed the failed rescue mission aimed at freeing American hostages in Iran.

May 4, 1980

Marshal Josip Broz Tito, president of Yugoslavia, died three days before his 88th birthday.

May 5, 1980

A siege at the Iranian embassy in London ended as British commandos and police stormed the building.

May 9, 1980

35 motorists were killed when a Liberian freighter rammed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay in Florida, causing a 14-hundred-foot section to collapse.

May 14, 1980

President Carter inaugurated the Department of Health and Human Services.

May 17, 1980

Rioting that claimed 18 lives erupted in Miami's Liberty City after an all-white jury in Tampa acquitted four former Miami police officers of fatally beating black insurance executive Arthur McDuffie.

May 18, 1980

The Mount St. Helens volcano in Washington state exploded, leaving 57 people dead or missing, and in the South Korean city of Kwangju, townspeople and students began a nine-day uprising that was finally put down by troops.

May 21, 1980

Ensign Jean Marie Butler became the first woman to graduate from a US service academy as she accepted her degree and commission from the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.

May 24, 1980

Iran rejected a call by the World Court in The Hague to release the American hostages.

May 30, 1980

Pope John Paul the Second arrived in France on the first visit by the head of the Roman Catholic Church since the early 19th century.

June 1, 1980

Cable News Network made its debut.

June 9, 1980

Comedian Richard Pryor suffered almost fatal burns at his San Fernando Valley, California, home when a mixture of "free-base" cocaine exploded..

June 27, 1980

President Carter signed legislation reviving draft registration.

July 1, 1980

O Canada was proclaimed the national anthem of Canada.

July 11, 1980

American hostage Richard I. Queen, freed by Iran after eight months of captivity because of poor health, left Tehran for Switzerland.

July 16, 1980

Former California Governor Ronald Reagan won the Republican presidential nomination at the party's convention in Detroit.

July 19, 1980

The Moscow Summer Olympics began, minus dozens of nations that were boycotting the games because of the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan.

July 21, 1980

Draft registration began in the United States for 19- and 20-year-old men.

July 27, 1980

On day 267 of the Iranian hostage crisis, the deposed Shah of Iran died at a military hospital outside Cairo, Egypt, at age 60.

July 29, 1980

A state funeral was held in Cairo, Egypt, for the deposed Shah of Iran, who had died two days earlier at age 60.

July 30, 1980

The Israeli Knesset passed a law reaffirming all of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.

 Senior Year

August 2, 1980

85 people were killed when a bomb exploded at the train station in Bologna, Italy.

August 3, 1980

Closing ceremonies were held in Moscow for the 1980 Summer Olympic Games, which had been boycotted by dozens of countries, including the United States.

August 5, 1980

Hurricane "Allen" battered the southern peninsula of Haiti, leaving more than 200 dead in its wake.

August 14, 1980

President Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale were nominated for a second term at the Democratic national convention in New York and workers went on strike at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, in a job action that resulted in the creation of the Solidarity labor movement.

August 19, 1980

301 people aboard a Saudi Arabian L-1011 died as the jetliner made a fiery emergency landing at the Riyadh airport.

August 25, 1980

The Broadway musical "42nd Street" opened. (Producer David Merrick stunned both cast and audience during the curtain call by announcing that the show's director, Gower Champion, had died earlier that day.)

August 31, 1980

Poland's Solidarity labor movement was born with an agreement signed in Gdansk that ended a 17-day-old strike.

September 17, 1980

Former Nicaraguan president Anastasio Somoza (suh-MOH'-sah) was assassinated in Paraguay.

September 22, 1980

The Persian Gulf conflict between Iran and Iraq erupted into full-scale war.

October 4, 1980

Some 520 people were forced to abandon the cruise ship "Prisendam" in the Gulf of Alaska after the Dutch luxury liner caught fire -- no deaths or serious injury resulted.

October 14, 1980

Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan promised that, if elected, he would name a woman to the US Supreme Court. (He later nominated Judge Sandra Day O'Connor of Arizona.)

October 23, 1980

The resignation of Soviet Premier Alexei N. Kosygin was announced.

October 24, 1980

The merchant freighter SS "Poet" departed Philadelphia bound for Port Said, Egypt, with a crew of 34 and a cargo of grain; it was never heard from again.

October 28, 1980

President Carter and Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan faced off in a nationally broadcast, 90-minute debate in Cleveland.

October 31, 1980

Reza Pahlavi, eldest son of the late shah, proclaimed himself the rightful successor to the Peacock Throne.

November 4, 1980

Ronald Reagan won the White House as he defeated President Carter by a strong margin.

November 7, 1980

Actor Steve McQueen died in Juarez, Mexico, at age 50.

November 12, 1980

The US space probe "Voyager One" came within 77-thousand miles of Saturn.

November 21, 1980

Eighty-seven people died in a fire at the MGM Grand Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada and an estimated 83 million TV viewers tuned in to the CBS prime-time soap opera "Dallas" to find out "who shot J.R." (It turned out to be Kristin Shephard, played by Mary Crosby.)

November 22, 1980

Death claimed actress Mae West at her Hollywood residence at age 87 and former House Speaker John W. McCormack in Dedham, Massachusetts, at age 88.

November 23, 1980

Some 4800 people were killed by a series of earthquakes that devastated southern Italy.

November 25, 1980

Sugar Ray Leonard regained the World Boxing Council welterweight championship when Roberto Duran abruptly quit in the eighth round at the Louisiana Superdome.

December 2, 1980

Four American churchwomen were raped, murdered and buried outside San Salvador. (Five national guardsmen were convicted in the killings, and sentenced to 30 years in prison.)

December 3, 1980

Bernadine Dohrn, a former leader of the radical Weather Underground, surrendered to authorities in Chicago after more than a decade as a fugitive.

December 4, 1980

The bodies of four American churchwomen slain in El Salvador two days earlier were unearthed. (Five national guardsmen were later convicted of murdering nuns Ita Ford, Maura Clarke and Dorothy Kazel, and lay worker Jean Donovan.)

December 8, 1980

Rock star John Lennon was shot to death outside his New York City apartment building by an apparently deranged fan.

December 10, 1980

US Representative John W. Jenrette (Democrat, South Carolina) resigned to avoid being expelled from the House following his conviction on charges relating to the FBI's ABSCAM investigation.

December 11, 1980

President Carter signed into a law legislation creating a $1.6 billion environmental "superfund" to pay for cleaning up chemical spills and toxic waste dumps.

December 13, 1980

Christian Democrat Jose Napoleon Duarte was named the president of El Salvador's new government.

December 14, 1980

Fans around the world paid tribute to John Lennon, six days after he was shot to death in New York City.

December 16, 1980

Harland Sanders, founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain, died in Shelbyville, Kentucky, at age 90.

December 18, 1980

Former Soviet Premier Alexei N. Kosygin died at age 76.

December 20, 1980

The government of the Soviet Union confirmed that former Premier Alexei N. Kosygin had died two days earlier at the age of 76.

December 23, 1980

A state funeral was held in Moscow for former Premier Alexei N. Kosygin, who had died December 18th at age 76.

December 24, 1980

Americans remembered the US hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds -- one second for each day of captivity.

January 16, 1981

In Northern Ireland, Protestant gunmen shot and wounded Irish nationalist leader Bernadette Devlin McAliskey and her husband.

January 19, 1981

The United States and Iran signed an agreement paving the way for the release of 52 Americans held hostage for more than 14 months.

January 20, 1981

In 1981, Iran released 52 Americans it had held hostage for 444 days, minutes after the presidency had passed from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan.

January 25, 1981

The 52 Americans held hostage by Iran for 444 days arrived in the United States.

January 27, 1981

President Reagan greeted the 52 former American hostages released by Iran.

February 10, 1981

Eight people were killed, 198 injured, when fire broke out at the Las Vegas Hilton hotel-casino.

February 20, 1981

The space shuttle "Columbia" cleared the final major hurdle to its maiden launch as the spacecraft fired its three engines in a 20-second test.

February 24, 1981

Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Britain's Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer.

March 1, 1981

Irish Republican Army member Bobby Sands began a hunger strike at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland; he died 65 days later.

March 6, 1981

Walter Cronkite signed off for the last time as principal anchorman of "The CBS Evening News."

March 30, 1981

President Reagan was shot and seriously injured outside a Washington DC hotel by John W. Hinckley Jr. Also wounded were White House press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent and a District of Columbia police officer.

April 8, 1981

General Omar N. Bradley died in New York at age 88.

April 12, 1981

The space shuttle Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral on its first test flight.

April 13, 1981

Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke received a Pulitzer Prize for her feature about an eight-year-old heroin addict named "Jimmy"; however, Cooke relinquished the prize two days later, admitting she'd fabricated the story.

April 14, 1981

The first test flight of America's first operational space shuttle, the "Columbia," ended successfully with a landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

April 29, 1981

Truck driver Peter Sutcliffe admitted in a London court to being the "Yorkshire Ripper," the killer of 13 women in northern England during a five-year period.

May 5, 1981

Irish Republican Army hunger-striker Bobby Sands died at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland in his 66th day without food.

May 13, 1981

Pope John Paul the Second was shot and seriously wounded in St. Peter's Square by Turkish assailant Mehmet Ali Agca.

May 26, 1981

14 people were killed when a Marine jet crashed onto the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS "Nimitz" off Florida.

June 3, 1981

Pope John Paul the Second left a Rome hospital and returned to the Vatican three weeks after the attempt on his life.

June 7, 1981

Israeli military planes destroyed a nuclear power plant in Iraq, a facility the Israelis charged could have been used to make nuclear weapons.

July 17, 1981

114 people were killed when a pair of walkways above the lobby of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel collapsed during a "tea dance."

July 22, 1981

Turkish extremist Mehmet Ali Agca was sentenced in Rome to life in prison for shooting Pope John Paul the Second. (However, Agca was pardoned by Italy and sent to Turkey, where he will serve time for a killing that took place before the attack on the pope.)

July 29, 1981

Britain's Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

July 31, 1981

The leader of Panama, General Omar Torrijos, was killed in a plane crash and a seven-week-old Major League Baseball strike ended.

  …and just for fun: 

August 12, 1981

IBM introduces its Personal Computer, which uses Microsoft's 16-bit operating system, Microsoft MS-DOS version 1.0.

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