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The 1980s Portal

From left, clockwise: The first Space Shuttle, Columbia, lifts off in 1981; American president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev eases tensions between the two superpowers, leading to the end of the Cold War; The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is considered to be one of the most momentous events of the 1980s; In 1981, the IBM Personal Computer is released; In 1985, the Live Aid concert is held in order to fund relief efforts for the famine in Ethiopia during the time Mengistu Haile Mariam ruled the country; Ukraine and much of the world is filled with radioactive debris from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster; The Iran–Iraq War leads to over one million dead and $1 trillion spent.

The 1980s (pronounced "nineteen-eighties", shortened to "the '80s") was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1980, and ended on December 31, 1989.

Selected article

John Lennon's Apartment in New York
John Lennon was an English musician who gained worldwide fame as one of the members of the Beatles, for his subsequent solo career, and for his political activism and pacifism. He was shot by Mark David Chapman in the archway of the building where he lived, The Dakota, in New York City on 8 December 1980. Lennon had just returned from Record Plant Studio with his wife, Yoko Ono.

After sustaining four major gunshot wounds, Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at Roosevelt Hospital. He was 40 years old. At the hospital, it was stated that nobody could have lived for more than a few minutes after sustaining such injuries. Shortly after local news stations reported Lennon's death, crowds gathered at Roosevelt Hospital and in front of the Dakota. Lennon was cremated on December 10, 1980 at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York; the ashes were given to Ono, who chose not to hold a funeral for him. The first media report of Lennon's death to a US national audience was announced by Howard Cosell, on ABC's Monday Night Football.

Photographer Annie Leibovitz went to the Lennons' apartment to do a photo shoot for Rolling Stone magazine. Leibovitz promised Lennon that a photo with Ono would make the front cover of the magazine, even though she initially tried to get a picture with Lennon by himself. Lennon insisted that both he and his wife be on the cover, and after taking the pictures, Leibovitz left their apartment at 3:30 p.m. After the photo shoot, Lennon gave what would be his last interview, to San Francisco DJ Dave Sholin, for a music show to be broadcast on the RKO Radio Network. At 5:40 p.m., Lennon and Ono, delayed by a late limousine, left their apartment to mix the song "Walking on Thin Ice" (an Ono song featuring Lennon on lead guitar) at the Record Plant Studio.

Selected image

President Reagan signs the bill making Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a national holiday..
Credit: U.S.Government

President Reagan signs the bill making Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a national holiday.

Selected biography

General Secretary of the CPSU CC M. Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman. He was the eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991 when the party was dissolved. He served as the country's head of state from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991 (titled as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1988 to 1989, as Chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990, and as President of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991). He was the only general secretary in the history of the Soviet Union to have been born after the October Revolution.

Gorbachev was born in Stavropol Krai into a peasant UkrainianRussian family, and in his teens operated combine harvesters on collective farms. He graduated from Moscow State University in 1955 with a degree in law. While he was at the university, he joined the Communist Party, and soon became very active within it. In 1970, he was appointed the First Party Secretary of the Stavropol Regional Committee, First Secretary to the Supreme Soviet in 1974, and appointed a member of the Politburo in 1979. Within three years of the death of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, following the brief "interregna" of Andropov and Chernenko, Gorbachev was elected General Secretary by the Politburo in 1985.

Gorbachev's policies of glasnost and perestroika and his reorientation of Soviet strategic aims contributed to the end of the Cold War. He removed the constitutional role of the Communist Party in governing the state, and inadvertently led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He was awarded the Otto Hahn Peace Medal in 1989, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 and the Harvey Prize in 1992, as well as honorary doctorates from various universities.


Did you know...

...that Phillip Glass' Akhnaten had its world premiere on March 24, 1984 ?
Other "Did you know" facts... Read more...

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