Welcome to the year 1980!
Below you will find the compiled list of major events, trends, world leaders, cost of living, and popular culture for the year 1980. I hope this helps you with the baby book, time capsule, or commemorative project you’re working on. The post is long, so if you don’t feel like writing down all the information check out the available printable options.
Affiliate links have been incorporated into this post to provide you with further information about trends and popular items during this period of time.
Printables for 1980:
World Around Me / 1 Page / Full Post
Research Contributor: Kate Muller
1980 Cost of things (U.S. Averages):
Gallon of Milk~ $2.16 (1980sflashback.com)
Dozen Eggs (Large, Grade A)~ $0.91 (1980sflashback.com)
Loaf of bread~ $0.50 (www.thepeoplehistory.com)
U.S. Postage Stamp~ $.15 (johnstonsarchive.net)
New Car Price~ $21,413 (cta.ornl.gov)
Regular Unleaded Gallon of Gas~ $1.25 (1980sflashback.com)
Movie Ticket~ $2.69 (boxofficemojo.com)
Median sales price of new house~ $64,450 (census.gov)
1980 Top Celebrities:
(People.com & Wikipedia)
Billy Dee Williams
Craig T. Nelson
Tommy Lee Jones
Robert De Niro
Mary Tyler Moore
1980 Top Athletes:
Billie Jean King
1980 Top Sporting Events:
Super Bowl XIV: Pittsburgh Steelers won 31-19 over the Los Angeles Rams
Daytona 500: Buddy Baker
The Kentucky Derby: Genuine Risk
The Masters: Seve Ballesteros
NBA Championship: Los Angeles Lakers won series 4-2 against Philadelphia 76ers
Wimbledon: Gentlemen’s singles: Björn Borg Ladies’ Singles: Evonne Goolagong Cawley
World Cup: N/A
World Series: Philadelphia Phillies won series 4-2 against Kansas City Royals
1980 Top Songs:
Call Me ~ Blondie
Another Brick In The Wall ~ Pink Floyd
Magic ~ Olivia Newton-John
Rock With You ~ Michael Jackson
Do That To Me One More Time ~ Captain and Tennille
Crazy Little Thing Called Love ~ Queen
Coming Up ~ Paul McCartney
Funkytown ~ Lipps, Inc.
It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me ~ Billy Joel
The Rose ~ Bette Midler
Escape (The Pina Colada Song) ~ Rupert Holmes
Cars ~ Gary Numan
1980 Top Television Shows:
The Love Boat
Saturday Night Live
The Facts of Life
The Dukes of Hazzard
WKRP in Cincinnati
Laverne & Shirley
Mork & Mindy
One Day at a Time
Little House on the Prairie
Archie Bunker’s Place
Too Close for Comfort
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
Hart to Hart
The Rockford Files
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
Eight is Enough
It’s a Living
The Price Is Right
The Muppet Show
Trapper John, M.D.
B.J. and the Bear
CBS Evening News
1980 Top Movies:
The Empire Strikes Back
9 to 5
Any Which Way You Can
Coal Miner’s Daughter
Smokey and the Bandit II
The Blue Lagoon
The Blues Brothers
Seems Like Old Times
Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie
Friday the 13th
Dressed to Kill
The Jazz Singer
Lady and the Tramp
The Elephant Man
1980 Top Books:
The Name of the Rose ~ Umberto Eco
The Bourne Identity ~ Robert Ludlum
Firestarter ~ Stephen King
A Confederacy of Dunces ~ John Kennedy Toole
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe ~ Douglas Adams
The Key to Rebecca ~ Ken Follett
Waiting for the Barbarians ~ J.M. Coetzee
The Covenant ~ James A. Michener
The Clan of the Cave Bear ~ Jean M. Auel
Housekeeping ~ Marilynne Robinson
1980 Top Fashion and Trends:
(Google & Wikipedia)
Members Only jackets
Metallic party dresses
1980 World Population:
4,444,496,764 and counting…
1980 World Leaders:
President of the United States: Jimmy Carter
President of China: Chiang Ching-kuo
President of Russia: Leonid I. Brezhnev
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom: Margaret Thatcher
Pope of Vatican City: Pope John Paul II
President of France: Valéry Giscard d’Estaing
United States Secretary of State: Cyrus Vance / Edmund Muskie
Secretary-General of the United Nations: Kurt Waldheim
1980 Major Events:
January 4 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter proclaims a grain embargo against the USSR with the
support of the European Commission.
January 11 – Nigel Short, 14, becomes the youngest chess player to be awarded the degree of
January 20 – The Pittsburgh Steelers win their fourth National Football League championship
in six seasons, defeating the stubborn Los Angeles Rams 31-19 in Super Bowl XIV at the Rose
Bowl in Pasadena, California.
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 on Swissair.
February 2–3 – The New Mexico State Penitentiary riot takes place; 33 inmates are killed and
more than 100 inmates injured.
February 13 – The 1980 Winter Olympics open in Lake Placid, New York.
February 22 – The United States Olympic Hockey Team defeats the Soviet Union in the
semifinals of the Winter Olympics, in the Miracle on Ice.
March 19–20 – The MV Mi Amigo, the ship housing pirate radio station Radio Caroline, sinks
off the English coast (the station 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 28 – Talpiot Tomb is found in Jerusalem.
April 1 – The 1980 United States Census begins. There are 226,545,805 United States
residents on this day.
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 14 – Iron Maiden’s debut self-titled album Iron Maiden is released.
April 21 – Rosie Ruiz wins the Boston Marathon, but is later exposed as a fraud 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 30 – Queen Juliana of the Netherlands abdicates, and her daughter Beatrix accedes to the
May 11 – Mobster Henry Hill is arrested for drug possession.
May 16 – Rookie Magic Johnson scores 42 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 123-107
victory over the Philadelphia 76ers to clinch the National Basketball Association championship
for the Lakers, who prevail despite the absence of future Basketball Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
May 17 – A Tampa, Florida court acquits 4 white police officers of killing Arthur McDuffie, a
black insurance executive, provoking 3 days of race riots in Miami.
May 21 – The Empire Strikes Back is released.
May 22 – Pac-Man (the best-selling arcade game of all time) is released in Japan.
May 24 – The New York Islanders win their first Stanley Cup, from a goal by Bobby Nystrom
in game six overtime of the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals over the Philadelphia Flyers.
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.
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
July 16 – Former California Governor and actor Ronald Reagan is nominated for U.S.
President, at the 1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit. Influenced by the Religious
Right, the convention also drops its long standing support for the Equal Rights Amendment,
dismaying moderate Republicans.
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.
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.
September 29 – The Washington Post publishes Janet Cooke’s story of Jimmy, an 8-year-old
heroin addict (later proven to be fabricated).
October 1 – Associated Newspapers announces that The Evening News will close and merge
with the Evening Standard.
October 10 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher delivers her famous “The lady’s not
for turning” speech.
October 21 – In Major League Baseball, The Philadelphia Phillies of the National League
defeat the Kansas City Royals of the American League 4-1 in Game Six of the World Series to
win the championship.
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 21 – A then-record number of viewers (for an entertainment program) tune into the
U.S. soap opera Dallas to learn who shot lead character J. R. Ewing. The “Who shot J.R.?”
event is an international obsession.
December 4 – Led Zeppelin issue a press release announcing their break-up due to the death of
their drummer John Bonham.
December 8 – John Lennon is shot dead outside his apartment in New York City by Mark
1980 Pop Culture:
(pop-culture.us & mrpopculture.com)
-.‐ John Lennon is shot and killed by a “fan” – Mark David Chapman – on December 8.
-.‐ CNN began broadcasting from Atlanta, Georgia
-.‐ Movie star Steve McQueen passes away at the age of 50 from malignant mesothelioma.
-.‐ Ronald Reagan is elected the nation’s 40th President by a landslide.
-.‐ Elvis Presley’s physician is found guilty of over prescribing addictive drugs to the late
-.‐ Beatle Paul McCartney is arrested in Tokyo for allegedly smuggling a half-pound of
marijuana through customs as he arrived at Tokyo International Airport for a Japanese
-.‐ Bert Parks is fired from his job as host of the Miss America pageant.
-.‐ ABC News’ “Nightline” airs on ABC-TV.
-.‐ The Pretenders finally have a hit with “Brass in Pocket.”
-.‐ Comedian Richard Pryor is found unconscious about a block from his home, suffering first –
second and third- degree burns over his body.
-.‐ David Letterman finally gets his own show. “The David Letterman Show” will be seen
Mon-Fri from 9:00-10:30am. Letterman is calling it a talk show with comedy.
-.‐ Dorothy Stratten, Playboy Magazine’s 1980 “Playmate of the Year,” is shot to death in an
apparent murder-suicide by her estranged husband in West Los Angeles.
-.‐ Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal announce that they’ll soon be married.
-.‐ John Bonham, drummer of Led Zeppelin is found dead at the home of the group’s lead
guitarist, Jimmy Page, near Windsor Castle.
-.‐ Who Shot J.R. Ewing? The answer came 53 minutes into “Dallas” when J.R. Ewing’s wife,
Sue Ellen, named her sister as the trigger person of the year. The “Who Shot J.R.” episode
of Dallas wins the highest rating of any program in television history, drawing viewers in
53.3% of the nation’s TV homes and 76% of the audience that was watching television in
that time period.
1980 Technology and Science:
Cell phones: None yet
Tablets & Readers: None yet
Online Social Communities: None yet
-.‐ Electronic Games hosts the first Arcade Awards, the first video game awards ceremony. It
awards games released during 1978-1979, with Space Invaders winning the overall Game of
the Year award.
-.‐ The arcade game market in the US generates $2.81 billion in revenue (equivalent to
$8.07 billion in 2016).
-.‐ May 22, Namco releases Pac-Man (originally known as Puckman in Japan). It becomes the
highest-grossing game of all time. It has the first gaming mascot character, established the
maze chase genre, opened gaming to female audiences, introduced power-ups, and featured
-.‐ Mattel releases the Intellivision video game console.
Popular Game Consoles:
Game & Watch handheld electronic games
DECO Cassette System
Tandy Color Computer
Major Science & Technology Events:
January 21 – MS Athina B is beached at Brighton, becoming a temporary tourist attraction.
February 16 – A total solar eclipse is seen in North Africa and West Asia.
March 1 – The Voyager 1 probe confirms the existence of Janus, a moon of Saturn.
May 8 – Global eradication of smallpox endorsed by the World Health Assembly
May 18 – The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens kills 57 and causes US$3 billion in damage.
June 1 – The first 24-hour news channel Cable News Network (CNN) is 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 23 – September 6 – The 1980 United States heat wave claims 1,700 lives.
June 23 – Tim Berners-Lee begins work on ENQUIRE, the system that will eventually lead
to the creation of the World Wide Web in fall of 1990.
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.
August 10 – Hurricane Allen (category 3) pounds southeastern Texas.
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
October 3 – The main-belt asteroid 2404 Antarctica is discovered by Antonín Mrkos at Kleť,
South Bohemian Region, Czechoslovakia.
October 10 – The 7.1 Mw El Asnam earthquake shakes northern Algeria with a maximum
Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme), killing 2,633–5,000, and injuring 8,369–9,000.
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 23 – The 6.9 Mw Irpinia earthquake shakes southern Italy with a maximum
Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme), killing 2,483–4,900, and injuring 7,700–8,934.