Ronald Reagan is inaugurated as the 40th president of the United States. At the moment he completes his inaugural address…
The Iranian hostage crisis ends with the release of 52 Americans in exchange for the return of $8 billion in frozen Iranian assets. 66 hostages had been taken captive after a group of Iranian students took over the US embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979. 13 people were released in November of that year, with a 14th later released due to illness. These remaining 52 hostages were in captivity for 444 days.
John Hinkley attempts to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who is shot in the chest as he’s walking to his limousine in Washington, D.C.. Also shot are press secretary James Brady, a police officer and a Secret Service agent. All recovered except Brady, who was confined to a wheelchair as a result of brain damage.
The space shuttle Columbia launches from Cape Canaveral, and manned American space flights resume after a 5-year hiatus. The Space Shuttle is the first reusable spacecraft flown in orbit. Columbia flew 28 flights (125,204,911 miles in total), spent 300.74 days in space, and completed 4,808 orbits. On February 1, 2003, Columbia disintegrated during re-entry after it’s 28th mission, killing all crew members aboard.
An assassination is attempted on Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter’s Square. Thought the Pope is shot, he recovers from his wounds, and would-be assassin Mehmet Ali Agca is sentenced to life in prison. (He is pardoned in 2000.) It is widely believe at the time that Agca is an agent of the Soviet Union or Bulgaria, due to the Pope’s anti-communist stance.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention release a report “describing cases of a rare lung infection in five young, previously healthy, gay men in Los Angeles. All the men have other unusual infections as well, indicating that their immune systems are not working. This marks the first official reporting of what will become known as the AIDS epidemic. Within days, doctors from across the U.S. flood CDC with reports of similar cases.” (aids.gov)
Prince Charles and Lady Di are married at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. 3,500 guests are in attendance, and an estimated 750 million additional people watch the wedding procession and ceremony, which are televised world-wide. In the United Kingdom, the day is considered a national holiday to mark the wedding. Which is why everyone’s home to watch it on the telly.
MTV launches at 12:01 EST with The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star”. The “Music Television” channel plays back-to-back music videos and features “video jockeys”. MTV’s effect is immediate in areas where it’s available, with record stores selling music that local stations are not playing. MTV also sparks the Second British Invasion, with British acts already accustomed to making music videos.
IBM introduces the IBM PC personal computer, IBM 5150. It sells for $1565.
Sandra Day O’Conner becomes the first Woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, approved unanimously 99-0 by the U.S. Senate.
Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is assassinated at the annual victory parade in Cairo. Lieutenant Khalid Islambouli leads an assassination squad riding in a troop truck, and when the truck stops, Sadat believes it to be part of the parade. As he stands to receive his salute, Islambouli attacks. Additional assassins rise from the truck, indiscriminately firing AK-47 assault rifles into the stands. In an attack that lasts about two minutes, Sadat and eleven others are killed and 28 are wounded.
After 20 years as a professional boxer, Muhammad Ali fights his last bout, losing a ten-round decision against Trevor Berbick.
So there’s a little history from 1981!
Do you remember any of that?