Home Decades 1980s 1984



01 – Brunei becomes independent of Britain. The Sultan of Brunei appoints himself Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Home Affairs Minister.

01 – After a bloodless coup, Major General Buhari becomes ruler of Nigeria.

01 – Alexis Korner, godfather of British blues, dies of cancer aged 55 (b. 19 April 1928).

03 – A US airman shot down over Lebanon is freed following an appeal from the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

06 – Texaco buys Getty Oil for $10 billion.

16 – Sky Television starts broadcasting via satellite and cable systems to selected parts of the UK.

17 – US Supreme Court rules 5-4 that it is legal to record television broadcasts with a videocassette recorder.

18 – Gunmen in Beirut murder Malcolm Kerr, the head of the American University.

20 – Olympic gold medal winner and movie actor Johnny Weissmuller, best-remembered for his film portrayal of Tarzan, dies from lung blockage at the age of 79 in Acapulco.

21 – Soul singer Jackie Wilson dies after 8 years in a coma. Wilson collapsed on stage in Cherry Hill, New Jersey on 25 September 1975 with a heart attack that led to the irreversible coma.

24 – 17 die after abandoning the stricken freighter Radiant Med in a gale off Guernsey.

25President Reagan‘s State of the Union address refers to “renewed energy and optimism throughout the land”.

25Apple Macintosh computer is launched in the USA.

26 – Singer Michael Jackson receives second-degree burns to his head and neck when a flare ignites his hairspray while filming a Pepsi TV commercial.

26 – Alan Bond is awarded the Order of Australia.

31 – A gunman who took 10 hostages during a bank robbery is shot dead at the Spit Bridge after a car and helicopter chase in Sydney, Australia.


01 – Medicare comes into operation in Australia.

03 – US space shuttle Challenger is launched. It returns on 11 February.

07 – Captain Bruce McCandless emerges from the space shuttle Challenger to walk in space 165 miles above the earth, becoming the first human to enter space without a safety line.

07Reagan orders US Marines withdrawn from Beirut international peacekeeping force.

08 – Soviet spacecraft Soyuz T-10 is launched with three cosmonauts aboard, to link up with orbital station Salyut 7.

09 – Soviet President Yuri Andropov dies, aged 69, after 15 months as general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.

11 – The 40-month old war between Iran and Iraq escalates as Iran launches a major offensive; 500,000 troops are engaged in battle.

13 – Konstantin Chernenko is named the new secretary-general of the Soviet Communist Party.

14 – Sarajevo, Yugoslavia – Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, the British couple who have redefined ice dancing, turned ice to fire tonight. They skated to the music of Bolero, that haunting, erotic theme, and told a tale of two lovers who cannot be together, so together throw themselves into a lava pit. When their performance was over and they lay sprawled on the ice, the rink had been transformed into a volcano. They received a total of 12 perfect, 6.0 scores, including all nine for artistic impression, the most they ever have received for one performance in their career.

14Elton John weds  German-born studio engineer Renate Blauel in Sydney, Australia. The couple divorce in 1988.

15 – American actress/singer Ethel Merman (b. 1909) dies, aged 75.

16Jerry Lee Lewis turns himself in to US federal tax authorities. He will not be found guilty of tax evasion.

26 – The last US Marines leave Beirut. The withdrawal ends 18 months of conflict in a country that has been torn apart by war with Israel.

29 – Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau resigns after more than 15 years in office.


01 – US actor Jackie Coogan (b. 1914) dies.

05 – The European Space Agency rocket Ariane is launched into space.

12 – After the National Coal Board announce their decision to close uneconomical pits, over half the miners in Britain go on strike. Protracted confrontations between police, flying pickets and miners characterise the strike, which is to last a year.

14 – Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is shot and seriously wounded by Loyalist gunmen in Northern Ireland.

17 – The 130th Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race is postponed less than an hour before it is due to start after the Cambridge vessel collides with a barge and sinks. The race goes ahead the following day with Oxford crossing the winning line first.

18 – Gymnast Mary Lou Retton scores a perfect 10 in the vault at a pre-Olympic meeting in New York.

20 – A Soviet tanker hits a mine off the coast of Nicaragua, and it is discovered that the CIA had assisted rebels in mining the country’s harbours.

23 – American Civil Servant Sarah Tisdall is jailed for six months for passing on classified information about US Cruise missiles to a daily newspaper.

24 – The Wran government is returned in NSW, Australia, with a reduced majority.

26 – Australian $100 note goes into circulation.

28 – Diplomat Kenneth Whitty shot dead in Athens.

30Reagan ends US role in Beirut by relieving 6th Fleet from peacekeeping force.

31 – ‘Hello Dandy’ wins the Grand National.


01 – US singer Marvin Gaye is shot dead by his father, a retired minister, in Los Angeles following a family argument.

04 – 59 women are arrested as police clear anti-nuclear protesters from their camp outside Greenham Common in Britain.

06 – Five US astronauts are launched in space shuttle Challenger. During their flight, they repair a faulty satellite and return on 13 April.

09 – 100 are arrested at Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire pits in some of the worst violence of the British miners’ strike.

10 – World’s first birth from a frozen embryo at Monash University, Australia.

11 – Mr Chernenko is declared president of the USSR.

12Advance Australia Fair becomes Australia’s official national anthem ending the long-standing reign of God Save The Queen. The imperial tune will now only be heard on occasions when Her Majesty or a member of the immediate royal family is present.


1984_yvonnefletcher17 – 25-year-old policewoman Yvonne Fletcher (pictured at left) is shot dead and 11 others injured when a gunman fires from an upstairs window of the Libyan Peoples Bureau in St James’s Square, London (pictured above). All Libyan officials are subsequently ordered to leave the country as the UK breaks off diplomatic relations.

26President Reagan arrives in the People’s Republic of China for a six-day visit. It is the first visit to China by an American president since Nixon in 1972.

26 – US bandleader Count Basie (b. 1904) dies.


04 – British actress and screen-siren Diana Dors (b. 1931) dies.

05 – Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders marries Jim Kerr of Simple Minds in New York’s Central Park.

07 – Dow Chemical and six other chemical companies announce the establishment of the Agent Orange Victims Fund, an endowment of $180 million to provide assistance to Vietnam veterans suffering from exposure to the herbicide which was used to defoliate Vietnamese jungles.

08 – Soviets decide to boycott LA Olympics. In 1980 the USA and more than 60 other countries had boycotted the Moscow Olympics in protest at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

10 – The US federal government promises $4.5 billion in loan guarantees after the biggest run on an American bank since the Great Depression threatens to sink the Continental Illinois Bank. The Federal Deposit Insurance Co. will take 80% of the bank’s stock and buy up $4.5 billion in bad loans.

14 – Australian $1 coin goes into circulation.

18 – A judge orders Disneyland to stop enforcing a policy against same-sex dancing. A gay couple was removed from the Tomorrowland Terrace in 1980 and challenged the park’s policies.

19 – Everton beat Watford 2-0 in the FA Cup Final.

24 – In El Salvador, five former soldiers are found guilty of murdering three US nuns and a missionary in 1980.

28 – British comedian Eric Morecambe dies of a heart attack after six curtain calls in a theatre. He is only 58.

29 – 41 policemen and 28 picketing miners are injured in South Yorkshire, in pitched battles outside the Orgreave coking plant.

30 – Miners union president Arthur Scargill is arrested and charged with obstruction at Orgreave Colliery.

30 – Liverpool wins the European Cup, beating A S Roma in Italy.


01President Reagan visits Ireland.

02 – Virgin Atlantic, the airline owned by Virgin Records boss Richard Branson, makes its first flight – from London to New Jersey – for a bargain £99.

06 – Queen Elizabeth II and other European monarchs and leaders attend the 40th-anniversary remembrance ceremony of the landings in Normandy during WWII.

06 – ‘Secreto’ wins the Derby.

06 – Hundreds of Sikh extremists in India die when troops storm the Golden Temple at Amritsar.

16 – Queensland (Australia) premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen is knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

22 – A massive explosion destroys a Soviet naval arsenal near Murmansk in Northern Russia.

26Fidel Castro frees 22 jailed Americans in Cuba after talks with Reverend Jesse Jackson.

30 – After 16 years in office, Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau resigns.


03 – The British Medical Association votes for the abolition of boxing.

05 – A former Nigerian minister, Umaru Dikko, is found drugged in a crate at Stansted Airport, England.

07 – Martina Navratilova beats Chris Evert Lloyd to take her fifth women’s singles title at Wimbledon.

08 – John McEnroe beats Jimmy Connors to win the men’s singles final at Wimbledon.

09 – York Minster (England) is badly damaged by fire caused by a lightning strike.

12 – In Britain, Robert Maxwell buys the Mirror newspaper for £113.4 million.

14 – Labour’s David Lange wins office in New Zealand.

16 – The Democratic National Convention nominates Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro for President and Vice-President. Ferraro is the first woman ever chosen to run for Vice President by either party.

17Reagan signs a bill giving states until 1 October to raise the legal drinking age to 21, or else suffer a 5% cut in Federal highway funds.

17 – Three Soviet cosmonauts (one a woman) are launched in Soyuz T-12 and link up with Salyut 7 on 18 July.

18 – James Oliver Huberty, a 41-year-old unemployed security guard, walks through the golden arches of the McDonald’s family restaurant in the town of San Ysidro on the California-Mexico border at 4.00 pm local time. He is dressed in combat trousers and a black T-shirt, with matching accessories including a semi-automatic rifle slung over one shoulder, a canvas bag full of ammunition over the other, a 9-mm semi-automatic pistol with a fourteen-shot clip tucked in his belt, and a twelve-gauge shotgun in his hands.

Huberty had allegedly told his wife; “Society had its chance. I’m going hunting. Hunting humans,” before setting off to the McDonald’s restaurant. There he shouted, “I killed thousands in Vietnam, and I want to kill more!” and for the next hour and fifteen minutes he slaughtered 21 people and wounded 18 more, before a single shot from a police sharpshooter, firing a rifle from the roof of the post office next door to the restaurant, killed the gunman. It was the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

19 – Lynn Rippelmeyer is the first woman to captain a Boeing 747 across the Atlantic.

21 – James F Fixx, author of the famous Complete Guide To Running, dies of a heart attack while jogging in Vermont (b. 1941).

23 – Vanessa Williams resigns from her position as Miss America due to nude pictures in Penthouse. It is the first resignation in the history of the pageant.

23 – Israel’s parliamentary elections result in the Labor party, headed by Shimon Peres, winning 44 seats in the Knesset while Prime Minister’s Yitzhak Shamir’s Likud party wins 41 seats. The Knesset will vote September 14 for a coalition government in which Peres and then Shamir will serve as prime minister.

24 – British actor James Mason (b. 1909) dies in Switzerland.

25 – Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya is the first woman to walk in space as she leaves Soyuz T-12 for three hours. The craft returns on 29 July.

25 – Patrick Lindsay flies a replica of Louis Blériot’s aircraft from Calais to Dover to mark the 75th anniversary of Blériot’s flight. This is a sponsored event to raise money for charity.

28 – XXIII Olympic Games open in Los Angeles. The USSR and 15 other nations withdraw from the games citing doubts about security measures

30 – 11-day-old Holly Roffey becomes the world’s youngest heart transplant patient.


01 – Australian banks deregulated.

05 – Actor Richard Burton (b. 1925) dies of a stroke in Geneva, Switzerland.

08 – Sprinter Carl Lewis wins four gold medals at the LA Olympics, matching Jesse Owens 1936 feat in Berlin.

11 – In a microphone check before a broadcast, President Reagan jokes “I am pleased to announce I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes.” The sound clip is accidentally heard by the world as the audio goes live to air. The Kremlin issues a statement deploring his sense of humour.

16 – John DeLorean is acquitted of drug dealing in Los Angeles.

16 – The American National Bank in McLean, Texas, is declared insolvent and closes. This is the 50th US bank failure in 1984.

18 – Month-old heart transplant patient Holly Roffey dies.

20/23 – Republican National Convention re-nominates Reagan and Bush.

21 – Almost one million demonstrators march in Manila a year after Aquino’s murder to protest against president Ferdinand Marcos.

22 – In South African elections, blacks (who form more than 70% of the population) are still excluded from voting or participating in government. Black dissatisfaction and unrest increase over the weeks to follow.

25 – US author Truman Capote dies aged 59.

25 – A French cargo ship, the Mont Louis, carrying nuclear material, sinks after a collision with a German ferry off the Belgian coast.

30Space Shuttle Discovery makes maiden flight. The crew of five men and one woman return on 5 September.

31 – Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres agree to form a government of national unity and alternate the post of prime minister.


02 – Seven people die and 20 are injured after a motorcycle enthusiasts picnic goes horribly wrong in Sydney, Australia. The recreation day, organised by the British Motorcycle Club at the Viking Tavern in Milperra, explodes into violence when two bikie gangs, the Comancheros and the Banditos, arrive there at around 1:55 pm. The shootout lasts 15 minutes and the gangs trap 40 bystanders inside one of the tavern bars as they fight it out.

03 – 14 die in South Africa during rioting in Sharpeville and other black townships around Johannesburg. The Sharpeville Mayor is hacked to death.

04 – Brian Mulroney (Conservative) becomes prime minister of Canada.

07 – 22 people die from salmonella poisoning at a hospital in Wakefield, UK.

15 – Prince Henry Charles Albert David (Harry), second son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, is born in London.

17 – The first South African multiracial cabinet is sworn in with prime minister Botha as president.

20 – An Islamic suicide bomber attacks the US embassy in the Lebanese capital, Beirut., killing 20 people.

23 – Canterbury Bankstown beat Parramatta 6-4 in the Australian Rugby League Grand Final.

26 – Britain and China sign a draft agreement for the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997.

29 – Essendon 14.21 (105) beat Hawthorn 12.9 (81) in the Australian VFL Final.

29 – Massive IRA arms haul is seized aboard an Irish trawler.


02 – Robert W. Miller becomes the first FBI agent in history to be charged with espionage; in 1986 he will be sentenced to two concurrent life sentences plus 50 years for spying for the Soviet Union.

02 – Three Soviet cosmonauts conclude a record 237-day stay in space.

02 – The first woman cabinet minister is elected in Switzerland.

03 – Tim Macartney-Snape and Greg Mortimer are the first Australians to reach the summit of Mt Everest.

04 – Six million Ethiopians are reported to be in desperate straits after a prolonged drought decimated grain production. The Western world begins to ferry in aid following harrowing TV coverage.

07 – Walter Mondale wins his first presidential debate with Ronald Reagan, who seems disoriented and unclear on certain facts. A better-prepared Reagan performs more effectively in the second debate on October 21.

10 – The British High Court fine the miners union £200,000 and Arthur Scargill £1,000 for contempt of court.

11 – Dr Kathryn D Sullivan becomes the first US woman astronaut to walk in space.

12 – An IRA bomb meant for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher rips through the Grand Hotel, Brighton, where the Conservative Party conference is being held. Five people die and 31 are injured as 20lbs of explosive hidden in room 629 devastates the hotel which is temporary home to the cabinet. Conservative party Chairman, Norman Tebbit, is amongst those seriously injured.

26 – A baboon’s heart is transplanted into 15-day-old ‘Baby Fae’. She dies on November 15 from heart and kidney failure.

28 – Chinese communist party announces economic reforms allowing a measure of free enterprise.

30 – In Poland, pro-Solidarity priest Father Jerzy Popieluszko is found murdered after being kidnapped by the secret police. About 250,000 people attend his funeral at his church in a Warsaw suburb on 3 November.

30 – Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, is murdered by the two Sikh guards stationed at the gate between her private residence and her office. Security officer Beant Singh, trusted by Mrs Gandhi for more than 10 years, fires three shots into her abdomen from a .38 revolver, and Satwant Singh pumps an additional 30 rounds from his automatic weapon into her crumpled body. Beant Singh is shot dead within minutes of the assassination. Satwant Singh is arrested and hanged.


05 – 800 British miners return to work.

06President Reagan is re-elected by nearly 17 million votes in a landslide. His comprehensive defeat of Democrat Walter Mondale was never in doubt.

12British miners begin a drift back to work after high financial inducements for the Christmas period, but the majority of strikers are resolute in their determination to win.

19 – A gas plant explosion in Mexico City kills over 260.

19 – 2,282 British miners return to work.

23 – Fire breaks out at Oxford Circus tube station in London. Hundreds flee and almost 1,000 passengers are trapped in smoke-filled tunnels for three hours.


01 – Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke wins close poll.

03 – A fatal gas leak at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India kills more than 2,000 while over 200,000 people suffer serious side effects.

06 – A Kuwaiti airliner is hijacked and at Teheran airport in Iran four hostages are killed. Iranian security forces free nine other hostages two days later.

10Bishop Desmond Tutu given Nobel Peace Prize.

14Band Aid, organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, produces a chart-topping single, Do They Know It’s Christmas?, to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.

17 – 76,000 square kilometres of desert at Maralinga in Australia is formally returned to Aborigines.

19 – Great Britain signs a joint Sino-British Declaration guaranteeing the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 when its 99-year lease on the territory expires.

21 – Three gunmen seize two Merrill Lynch Canada couriers in Montreal and make off with over $51 million in securities.

22 – Bernhard Goetz, a self-employed engineer, shoots four black teenagers on a New York subway. Goetz who had been brutally mugged in 1981 claims that they demanded money from him.

22 – Following the visit of Soviet diplomat Mikhail Gorbachev Mrs Thatcher meets President Reagan to urge an early band on space weapons.

28 – Film director Sam Peckinpah (b.1926) dies.

29 – The Congress Party, led by Rajiv Gandhi, wins a landslide victory in the Indian general election.

31Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen is involved in a serious motor accident that tears off his left arm.

Also this year . . .

  • XXIII Olympic Games in Los Angeles, USA.
  • XIV Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.
  • British Telecom shares go on sale – the largest share issue in the world.
  • Medicare comes into effect throughout Australia.
  • BMX bikes become a craze amongst youngsters.
  • IBM unveils a portable version of its personal computer. The new portable weighs 30 pounds and costs around $2,700.
  • Australia’s population reaches 15,450,000.
  • Australia’s $100 note is released and the $1 coin replaces the dollar note.

Quote of the year

“You ain’t seen nothing yet”
President Reagan, after being re-elected in November.