1981 in science
The year 1981 in science and technology involved many significant events, listed below.
- September – Pantanal Matogrossense National Park designated in Brazil.
- Publication of Stephen Jay Gould's critique of biological determinism, The Mismeasure of Man, in the United States.
- March 5 – The ZX81, a pioneering British home computer, is launched by Sinclair Research, going on to sell over 1.5 million units worldwide.
- April 3 – The Osborne 1, the first successful portable computer, is unveiled at the West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco.
- July 9 – Nintendo releases the arcade game Donkey Kong featuring the debut of Mario.
- August 12 – The IBM Personal Computer is released.
- September 12 – The Chaos Computer Club, a European association of hackers, is established in Berlin by Wau Holland and others.
- April 26 - Dr. Michael R. Harrison of the University of California, San Francisco, performs the world's first human open fetal surgery.
- June 5 - AIDS pandemic begins when the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an unusual cluster of Pneumocystis pneumonia in five homosexual men in Los Angeles.
- Dr. Bruce Reitz performs the first successful heart–lung transplant on Mary Gohlke at Stanford Hospital.
- July 7 – Electric aircraft Solar Challenger, designed by an American team led by Paul MacCready and piloted by Stephen Ptacek, makes a 163-mile (262 km) crossing of the English Channel using only solar power from wing-mounted photovoltaic cells.
- July 17 – Hyatt Regency walkway collapse: Structural failure due to a late design change causes two internal suspended walkways at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri to collapse, killing 114.
- Nobel Prizes
- Turing Award – Edgar F. Codd
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- January 5
- March 9 – Max Delbrück (b. 1906), German biologist.
- April 3 – Leo Kanner (b. 1894), Austrian American clinical child psychiatrist.
- July 4 - Niels Erik Nørlund (b. 1885), Danish mathematician.
- July 27 – Elizabeth Rona (b. 1890), Hungarian American nuclear chemist.
- July 31 – Ernest Melville DuPorte (b. 1891), Black Canadian insect morphologist.
- November 17 – Sibyl M. Rock (b. 1909), American mathematician.
- November 22 – Hans Krebs (b. 1900), German medical doctor and biochemist; discoverer of the citric acid cycle.
- December 6 – Harry Harlow (b. 1905), American psychologist.