Here is a monthly list of famous news events that occured in 1980. If you were living in 1980, it is fun to go through and see how much you remember -- and how many old memories it can jog.
January 1980 News Events
January 1 – Changes to the Swedish Act of Succession make Victoria of Sweden Crown Princess and therefore next in line to the throne, ahead of her younger brother.
January 4 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter proclaims a grain embargo against the USSR with the support of the European Commission.
January 6 – Global Positioning System (GPS) time epoch begins at 00:00 UTC.
January 6 – The president of Sicily, Piersanti Mattarella, is killed by the Mafia.
January 7 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter signs legislation approving $1.5 billion in loan guarantees to bail out the Chrysler Corporation.
January 9 – In Saudi Arabia, 63 Muslim fanatics are beheaded for their part in the siege of the Great Mosque in Mecca in November, 1979.
January 11 – Nigel Short, 14, becomes the youngest chess player to be awarded the degree of International Master.
January 21 – The London Gold Fixing hits its highest price ever (adjusted for inflation), at US $850 a troy ounce.
January 21 – The MS Athina B is beached at Brighton, becoming a temporary tourist attraction.
January 21 – At least 200 people were killed when the Corralejas Bullring collapsed at Sincelejo, Colombia.
January 22 – Andrei Sakharov, Soviet scientist and human rights activist, is arrested in Moscow.
January 24 – The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railroad is ordered liquidated due to bankruptcy, and debt owed to creditors.
January 26 – Israel and Egypt establish diplomatic relations.
January 27 – Canadian caper: Six United States diplomats, posing as Canadians, manage to escape from Tehran, Iran as they board a flight to Zürich, Switzerland.
January 31 – The Spanish Embassy in Guatemala is invaded and set on fire, killing 36 people. It is called "Spain's own Tehran", similar to the 1979–80 Iran American U.S. Embassy Hostages of Americans.
February 1980 News Events
February 2 – Abscam: FBI personnel target members of the Congress of the United States in a sting operation.
February 2–3 – The New Mexico State Penitentiary Riot takes place; 33 inmates are killed and more than 100 inmates injured.
February 4 – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini names Abolhassan Banisadr as president of Iran.
February 13 – The 1980 Winter Olympics open in Lake Placid, New York.
February 15 – In Vanuatu, followers of John Frum's cargo cult on the island of Tanna declare secession as the nation of Tafea.
February 16 – A total solar eclipse seen in North Africa and West Asia.
February 19 – Bon Scott of AC/DC dies of alcohol poisoning.
February 22 – The United States Olympic Hockey Team defeats the Soviet Union in the semifinals of the Winter Olympics, in the Miracle on Ice.
February 23 – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini states that Iran's parliament will decide the fate of the American embassy hostages.
February 25 – A coup in Suriname ousts the government of Henck Arron; leaders Desi Bouterse and Roy Horb replace it with a National Military Council.
February 27 – M-19 guerrillas begin the Dominican embassy siege in Colombia, holding 60 people hostage, including 14 ambassadors.
March 1980 News Events
March 1 – The Voyager 1 probe confirms the existence of Janus, a moon of Saturn.
March 3 – Pierre Trudeau returns to office as Prime Minister of Canada.
March 4 – Robert Mugabe is elected Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.
March 8 – The first rock music festival kicks off in the Soviet Union.
March 14 – In Poland, a plane crashes during an emergency landing near Warsaw, killing a 14-man American boxing team and 73 others.
March 18 – Fifty people are killed at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia, when a Vostok-2M rocket explodes on its launch pad during a fueling operation.
March 20 – The Mi Amigo, the ship that housed pirate radio station Radio Caroline, sinks (Radio Caroline returns aboard a new ship in 1983).
March 21 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter announces that the United States will boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
March 21 – Mafioso Angelo Bruno is assassinated in Philadelphia.
March 22 – The Georgia Guidestones are erected in Elbert County, Georgia.
March 24 – The Australia Olympic Committee announces it will send an Olympic delegation to Moscow, despite objections by Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser.
March 24 – Archbishop Óscar Romero is killed by gunmen while celebrating Mass in San Salvador. At his funeral 6 days later, 42 people are killed amid gunfire and bombs.
March 26 – A mine lift cage at the Vaal Reef gold mine in South Africa falls 1.2 miles, killing 23.
March 27 – The Norwegian oil platform Alexander L. Kielland collapses in the North Sea, killing 123 of its crew of 212.
March 27 – The Silver Thursday market crash occurs.
March 28 – Talpiot Tomb is found in Jerusalem.
March 31 – Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad operates its final train.
April 1980 News Events
April 1 – Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC).
April 1 – The Mariel boatlift from Cuba begins.
April 1 – New York City's Transport Works Union Local 100 goes on strike, which continues for 11 days.
April 2 – The St. Pauls riot breaks out in Bristol.
April 7 – The United States severs diplomatic relations with Iran and imposes economic sanctions, following the taking of American hostages on November 4, 1979.
April 10 – Spain and the United Kingdom agree to reopen the border between Gibraltar and Spain, closed since 1969.
April 12 – Samuel Kanyon Doe takes over Liberia in a coup d'état, ending over 130 years of democratic presidential succession in that country.
April 12 – Terry Fox begins his Marathon of Hope from St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada.
April 14 – Iron Maiden's debut self titled album Iron Maiden is released.
April 18 – Zimbabwe gains independence from the United Kingdom; Robert Mugabe becomes Prime Minister.
April 21 – Rosie Ruiz wins the Boston Marathon, but is later exposed as a fraud (only ran last part of race) and stripped of her award.
April 24 – Pennsylvania Lottery Scandal: the Pennsylvania Lottery is rigged by 6 men including the host of the live TV drawing, Nick Perry.
April 24–25 – Operation Eagle Claw, a commando mission in Iran to rescue American embassy hostages, is aborted after mechanical problems ground the rescue helicopters. Eight United States troops are killed in a mid-air collision during the failed operation.
April 25 – A Dan-Air Boeing 727 crashes in Tenerife, killing all 146 occupants and marking the worst air disaster involving a British-registered aircraft in terms of loss of life.
April 26 – Louise and Charmian Faulkner disappear from outside their flat in St Kilda, Victoria, Australia.
April 27 – The Dominican embassy siege ends with all hostages released and the guerrillas flying to Cuba.
April 30 – Iranian Embassy Siege: Six Iranian-born terrorists take over the Iranian embassy in London, UK. SAS retakes the Embassy on May 5; 1 terrorist survives.
April 30 – Queen Juliana of the Netherlands abdicates, and her daughter Beatrix ascends to the throne.
May 1980 News Events
May 4 – Yugoslav President Tito dies. The funeral ceremony later becomes the world's biggest diplomatic meeting and media event ever, with more than 140 state delegations in Belgrade from all over the world (only the funeral of Pope John Paul II in April 2005 will have more news coverage and a higher number of delegations).
May 7 – Paul Geidel, convicted of second-degree murder in 1911, is released from prison in Beacon, New York, after 68 years and 245 days (the longest-ever time served by an inmate).
May 9 – In Florida, the Liberian freighter Summit Venture hits the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay, sending 35 people (most of whom were in a bus) to a watery death as a 1,400-foot section of the bridge collapses.
May 9 – The Norco shootout takes place during robbery of the Norco, CA branch of Security Pacific Bank.
May 9 – James Alexander George Smith "Jags" McCartney the Turks and Caicos Islands’ first Chief Minister, was killed in a plane crash over New Jersey.
May 11 – Mobster Henry Hill is arrested for drug possession.
May 17 – A Miami, Florida court acquits 4 white police officers of killing Arthur McDuffie, a black insurance executive, provoking 3 days of race riots.
May 17 – Internal conflict in Peru: On the eve of presidential elections, Maoist guerrilla group Shining Path attacks a polling location in the town of Chuschi, Ayacucho.
May 18 – Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington, killing 57 and causing US $3 billion in damage.
May 18 – Ian Curtis, singer/songwriter of acclaimed post punk band Joy Division, found hanged.
May 18–27 – Gwangju Massacre: Students in Gwangju, South Korea begin demonstrations, calling for democratic reforms.
May 20 – 1980 Quebec referendum: Voters in Quebec reject by a vote of 60% a proposal to seek independence from Canada.
May 21 – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is released.
May 22 – Pac-Man (the best-selling arcade game of all time) is released.
May 24 – The International Court of Justice calls for the release of U.S. Embassy hostages in Tehran.
May 24 – The New York Islanders win their first Stanley Cup, from a goal by Bobby Nystrom in overtime of game six of the Stanley Cup playoffs's final round.
May 25 – Indianapolis 500: Johnny Rutherford wins for a third time in car owner Jim Hall's revolutionary ground effect Chaparral car; the victory is Hall's second as an owner.
May 26 – John Frum supporters in Vanuatu storm government offices on the island of Tanna. Vanuatu government troops land the next day and drive them away.
May 26 – In South Korea, military government forces and pro-democracy protesters clash; 2,000 protesters die.
May 29 – Vernon Jordan is shot and critically injured in an assassination attempt in Fort Wayne, Indiana by Joseph Paul Franklin (the first major news story for CNN).
June 1980 News Events
June 1 – The Cable News Network (CNN) is officially launched.
June 3 – A series of deadly tornadoes strikes Grand Island, Nebraska, causing over $300m in damage, killing 5 people and injuring over 250.
June 9 – In Los Angeles, comedian Richard Pryor is badly burned trying to freebase cocaine.
June 10 – Apartheid: The African National Congress in South Africa publishes a statement by their imprisoned leader Nelson Mandela.
June 10 – A Unabomber bomb injures United Airlines president Percy Wood in Lake Forest, Illinois.
June 20 – Augusta AVA becomes the first federally recognized American Viticultural Area.
June 23 – September 6 – The 1980 United States heat wave claims 1,700 lives.
June 25 – A Muslim Brotherhood assassination attempt against Syrian president Hafez al-Assad fails. Assad retaliates by sending the army against them.
June 26 – A McDonnell Douglas DC-9 belonging to the Italian Airline Itavia crashes into the sea near Palermo after an explosion occurs in the air; 81 people die. A bomb or a missile is suspected to be the cause of the accident but no culprits are ever found.
June 27 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter signs Proclamation 4771, requiring 18- to 25-year-old males to register for a peacetime military draft, in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
June 29 – Vigdis Finnbogadottir is elected president of Iceland.
July 1980 News Events
July 8 – A wave of strikes begins in Lublin, Poland
July 9 – Pope John Paul II visits Brazil; 7 people are crushed to death in a crowd meeting him.
July 10: Fire at Alexandra Palace.
July 15 – A severe and destructive thunderstorm strikes 4 counties in western Wisconsin, including the city of Eau Claire. It causes over $250m in damage, and 1 person is killed.
July 16 – Former California Governor and actor Ronald Reagan is nominated for U.S. President, at the Republican National Convention in Detroit, Michigan. Influenced by the Religious Right, the convention also drops its long standing support for the Equal Rights Amendment, dismaying moderate Republicans.
July 19 – Former Turkish Prime Minister Nihat Erim is killed by 2 gunmen in Istanbul, Turkey.
July 19 – August 3 – The 1980 Summer Olympics are held in Moscow, Soviet Union.
July 25 – The album Back in Black is released by the Australian band AC/DC.
July 27 – Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, deposed shah of Iran, dies in Cairo.
July 30 – Vanuatu gains independence.
July 30 – Israel's Knesset passes the Jerusalem Law.
August 1980 News Events
August 2 – A terrorist bombing at the railway station in Bologna, Italy kills 85 people and wounds more than 200.
August 7–31 – Lech Wałęsa leads the first of many strikes at the Gdańsk Shipyard.
August 10 – Hurricane Allen (category 3) pounds southeastern Texas.
August 14 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter defeats Senator Edward Kennedy to win renomination, at the 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York City.
August 17 – In Australia, baby Azaria Chamberlain disappears from a campsite at Ayers Rock (Uluru), reportedly taken by a dingo.
August 19 – In one of aviation's worst disasters, 301 persons are killed when Saudia Flight 163 catches fire in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
August 31 – Victory of the strike in Gdańsk Shipyard, Poland. Gdańsk Agreement is signed, opening a way to start the first in the communist block free organization not controlled by regime "Solidarność" i.e. Solidarity.
September 1980 News Events
September 2 – Ford Europe launches the Escort MK3, which ditches the traditional rear-wheel drive saloon in favour of a more practical and modern front-wheel drive hatchback.
September 5 – The St. Gotthard Tunnel opens in Switzerland as the world's longest highway tunnel at 10.14 miles (16.32 km), stretching from Goschenen to Airolo.
September 12 – Kenan Evren stages a military coup in Turkey. It stops political gang violence, but begins stronger state violence leading to the execution of many young activists.
September 17 – After weeks of strikes at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, Poland, the nationwide independent trade union Solidarity is established.
September 17 – Former Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza Debayle is killed in Asunción, Paraguay.
September 19 – The Robert Redford-directed film Ordinary People, based on the novel by Judith Guest, premieres. Redford's directorial debut later wins him his first Oscar, and wins three other Academy Awards, and five Golden Globe awards.
September 21 – Bülent Ulusu, ex admiral, forms the new government of Turkey (44th government, composed mostly of technocrats)
September 22 – The command council of Iraq orders its army to "deliver its fatal blow on Iranian military targets," initiating the Iran–Iraq War.
September 22 – Youth riots in the capital of the Soviet Republic of Estonia are quickly forced down.
September 25 – John Bonham of Led Zeppelin dies of alcohol poisoning.
September 26 – The Mariel Boatlift officially ends.
September 29 – The Washington Post publishes Janet Cooke's story of Jimmy, an 8-year-old heroin addict (later proven to be fabricated).
September 30 – Digital Equipment Corporation, Intel and Xerox introduce the DIX standard for Ethernet, which is the first implementation outside of Xerox, and the first to support 10 Mbit/s speeds.
October 1980 News Events
October 1 – Associated Newspapers announces that The Evening News will close and merge with the Evening Standard.
October 5 – British Leyland launches its new Metro, a three-door entry-level hatchback which is designed as the eventual replacement for the Mini. It gives BL a long-awaited modern competitor for the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Chevette.
October 10 – El Asnam, Algeria is destroyed by an earthquake, which claims more than 2,600 lives. After the quake, El Asnam is rebuilt and changes its name to the city of Chlef.
October 10 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher delivers her famous 'The lady's not for turning' speech.
October 14 – The Staggers Rail Act is enacted, deregulating American railroads.
October 15 – James Callaghan announces his resignation as Leader of the British Labour Party.
October 15 – James Hoskins forces his way into WCPO's television studio in Cincinnati, holding 9 employees hostage for several hours before releasing them and taking his own life.
October 18 – The Fraser Government is re-elected for a third consecutive term in Australia with a reduced majority.
October 21 – World Series: The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Kansas City Royals 4–2 in game 6.
October 22 – The Thomson Corporation says that The Times and all associated supplements will close in March 1981 if no buyer can be found.
October 25 – Proceedings on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction conclude at The Hague.
October 27 – Six Provisional Irish Republican Army prisoners in Maze prison refuse food and demand status as political prisoners; the hunger strike lasts until December.
October 30 – El Salvador and Honduras sign a peace treaty to put the border dispute fought over in 1969's Football War before the International Court of Justice.
October 31 – The Polish government recognizes Solidarity.
October 31 – Reza Pahlavi, eldest son of the shah of Iran, proclaims himself the rightful successor to the Peacock Throne.
November 1980 News Events
November – Duration of the CESDAP plan extended indefinitely.
November 4 – United States presidential election, 1980: Republican challenger and former Governor Ronald Reagan of California defeats incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter, exactly 1 year after the beginning of the Iran hostage crisis.
November 10 – November 12 – Voyager program: The NASA space probe Voyager I makes its closest approach to Saturn, when it flies within 77,000 miles of the planet's cloud-tops and sends the first high resolution images of the world back to scientists on Earth.
November 20 – The Gang of Four trial begins in China.
November 20 – A Texaco oil rig breaks through to a mine under Lake Peigneur.
November 21 – A fire at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip kills 85 people.
November 21 – A then-record number of viewers (for an entertainment program) tune into the U.S. TV soap opera Dallas to learn who shot lead character J.R. Ewing. The "Who shot J.R.?" event is a international obsession.
November 23 – Italy Earthquake of 1980: a magnitude 7 earthquake in southern Italy kills approximately 4,800 people and leaves 300,000 homeless.
December 1980 News Events
December 2 – American missionary Jean Donovan and three Roman Catholic nuns are murdered by a military death squad in El Salvador while volunteering to do charity work during the country's civil war.
December 8 – John Lennon, an English musician and peace activist, is assassinated by Mark David Chapman in New York City.
December 11 – CERCLA is enacted by the U.S. Congress.
December 15 – The Academia de la Llingua Asturiana (Academy of the Asturian Language) is created.
December 16 – During a summit on the island of Bali, OPEC decides to raise the price of petroleum by 10%.