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1981: Attempted Assassination, Space Shuttle, Charles and Diana

By Patrick Mondout

The American hostages in Iran were finally released on the same day former movie star Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the 40th president of the United States. Reagan was soon the survivor of an attempted assassin's bullet while Egypt's Anwar Sadat was the victim of one. The year also saw the first ever Space Shuttle mission and the marriage of Diana Spencer to Prince Charles.

Major Stories

January 20: Iran releases the 52 American hostages minutes after Ronald Reagan is inaugurated, ending their 444 day ordeal.
January 23: Mao's widow, Jiang Qing, receives a life sentence for her role in the Cultural Revolution.
January 25: The Oakland Raiders defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 in Super Bowl XV.
January 31: The 52 hostages from Iran finally make it back to U.S. soil.
February 10: The Las Vegas Hilton hotel/casino catches fire killing eight and injuring 198.
March 6: Walter Cronkite makes his final CBS Evening News broadcast after 19 years as anchorman.
March 30: John Hinckley Jr. attempts to assassinate President Ronald Reagan outside a Washington, D.C., hotel.
April 12: Liftoff of STS-1, the first Space Shuttle mission.
May 6: Maya Ying Lin's design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is selected from over 1,400 entries.
May 10: Socialist Francois Mitterand is elected president of France.
May 11: Reggae superstar Bob Marley dies of cancer at age 36 in Miami.
May 12: IRA terrorist Bobby Sands dies after a 66 day hunger strike in prison.
June 12: Major League Baseball players begin seven-week strike over issues relating to free agency.
June 21
: Wayne Williams is implicated in the murders of 28 African-American children over two years in the Atlanta area.
July 17: A pair of skywalks collapse into the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri killing 114.
July 29: Lady Diana Spencer marries Prince Charles Windsor of Great Britain in a ceremony seen by over a billion worldwide.
August 1: MTV permanently alters the musical landscape when it officially launches with it's first video (The Buggles Video Killed the Radio Star).
August 5
: President Reagan fires nearly 12,000 striking air-traffic controllers that had ignored his earlier order to return to work.
August 12: The IBM PC is announced. Variants of this computer become the best selling computer family of all time by a very large margin selling over a billion by late 2002 (or roughly one for every six humans).
August 31: The Red Army exploded a bomb at the U.S. Air Force Base at Ramstein, West Germany.
September 25: Sandra Day O'Connor of Arizona becomes the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.
October 6: President Anwar Sadat of Egypt is assassinated by Islamic fundamentalists in the Egyptian military during a troop review.
October 14: Vice President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt is sworn-in as Anwar Sadat's successor.
November 25: Typhoon Irma slams the Philippines leaving 176 dead.
November 29: Movie star Natalie Wood drowns near Santa Catalina Island in California.
December 4: Three American nuns and one lay missionary were found murdered outside San Salvador, El Salvador. They were believed to have been assassinated by a right-wing death squad.
December 28: Elizabeth Jordan Carr, the first American test-tube baby, is born in Norfolk, Virginia.


The marriage of Prince Charles to Diana may have been doomed, but it was big news in 1981.

Courtesy of DOD

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