1980 History Events: What Happened in 1980

In 1980, Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebook sold for more than $5 million. Heavy metal’s popularity skyrocketed this year. The first UK Indie chart was published in 1980 as well. In London, Bon Scott, the main singer of the heavy metal band AC/DC, died. At the box office, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ became the year’s biggest grossing film. John Lennon and Paul McCartney, both ex-Beatles, had a difficult year. Paul McCartney and his band Wings have returned to Japan for the first time since the Beatles visited in 1966. His detention at the airport was due to narcotics possession. On January 25, his captivity came to an end. The news that John Lennon had died shook the globe on December 8. Just outside his New York apartment, Mark David Chapman shot the legendary Beatles singer twice in the back. Thousands of people gathered in Central Park in New York City and other places across the world to mourn his loss.

CNN, the world’s first 24-hour international news television station, was inaugurated on June 1 by Time Warner Company. CNN began their broadcast at 6 p.m. EST with a story about the attempted assassination of Vernon Jordan, a civil rights leader and activist, from their Atlanta headquarters. CNN is now available in more than 160 million homes and businesses across the world.

The cold war was causing anxiety around the world in 1980, and the two primary players were the United States and Russia. Moscow, by chance, hosted the 1980 Summer Olympics. Because of the two countries’ rivalry for supremacy, then-US President Jimmy Carter announced that no US athletes will compete in the 1980 Olympics. After Russia refused to comply with Jimmy Carter’s request to remove its military from Afghanistan, this announcement was made.

The year 1980 signalled the start of a new era in fashion, with the advent of designer garments in brilliant and bright hues. The year also saw the birth of the hippie movement.

Continue reading to discover more about the events of 1980.


(January 25, 1980)
Mother Teresa has been awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.


(March 21, 1980)
To protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, US President Jimmy Carter stated that the US would boycott the Summer Olympics in Moscow.

(March 31, 1980)
Jesse Owens, an American track and field star who won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, died at the age of 66.

(April 06, 1980)
Post-it Notes were first sold in stores in the United States by the American business 3M, and the small pieces of paper with adhesive strips quickly became a major hit.

(April 18, 1980)
Zimbabwe became independent from the United Kingdom in 1980.


(April 24, 1980)
A mission to rescue American hostages in Iran was launched by US forces, however the mission failed, and eight US service members were killed.

(May 08, 1980)
Smallpox was proclaimed eradicated by the WHO after a global vaccination effort; the acute infectious disease has been one of the world's most feared plagues for centuries.

(May 09, 1980)
Friday the 13th, a horror film about summer camp counsellors being stalked by a masked killer, was premiered in theatres, and its massive success spawned a popular series.

(May 18, 1980)
Mount St. Helens in Washington erupted in one of the largest volcanic explosions ever recorded in North America on this day in 1980, following an earthquake with a value of 5.1 on the Richter scale.


(June 01, 1980)
Ted Turner's Atlanta-based Cable News Network (CNN) launched 24-hour live news broadcasts on this day in 1980, and garnered international notoriety in 1991 for its nonstop coverage of the Persian Gulf War.

(September 23, 1980)
Bob Marley, a Jamaican artist best known for popularising reggae, held his final concert in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a sold-out crowd; he died the following year of cancer. photo source:

(November 04, 1980)
Ronald Reagan, a conservative Republican, was elected President of the United States, defeating incumbent Jimmy Carter. photo source:

(November 12, 1980)
The NASA space probe Voyager I makes its closest approach to Saturn and takes the first images of its rings. photo source:

(December 08, 1980)
On this day in 1980, Mark David Chapman fatally shot British artist John Lennon in New York City, prompting a worldwide outpouring of grief. Lennon rose to stardom with the Beatles and had a successful solo career. photo source:

Written by James

James has always been intrigued by dinosaurs, the universe, technology, and animals. With a Bachelor of Computer Science and years of writing expertise, he joined World Amazing Facts in 2021 as a staff writer.

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