August 1981

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
02 03 04 05 06 07 08
09 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  
August 12, 1981: IBM PC introduced
August 30, 1981: Iran President Rajai, Premier Bahonar assassinated
August 1, 1981: MTV cable network begins
August 25, 1981: Voyager 2 reaches Saturn

The following events occurred in August 1981:

August 1, 1981 (Saturday)[edit]

  • MTV, the Music Television cable network, went on the air at 12:01 AM from Fort Lee, New Jersey on cable systems in the United States, with John Lack's introductory words, "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll." [1] Initially, MTV showed music videos 24 hours a day. The very first selection was "Video Killed the Radio Star" from Buggles. Pat Benatar's "You Better Run" was the second.[2] It was not until March 10, 1983, however, that MTV played a video from a non-white artist in heavy rotation for the first time.[3] When it launched, MTV reached 800,000 subscribers and cable television was still in only 25% of American homes.[4]
  • Abu Daoud, the PLO terrorist who had overseen the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes was shot five times at close range while sitting in the coffee shop of the Victoria Hotel in Warsaw.[5]
  • A freight train derailment near San Luis Potosi ruptured a tanker car carrying chlorine gas, killing 29 people and sending another 1,000 to the hospital.[6]
  • Died: Paddy Chayefsky, 58, American screenwriter and 3-time Oscar winner

August 2, 1981 (Sunday)[edit]

August 3, 1981 (Monday)[edit]

  • The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike at 7:00 am Eastern Time. The union's demand was for each employee to have a $10,000 annual wage increase, a 32-hour workweek (a four-day week and a eight-hour day combined) and increased benefits. President Reagan, citing the law that prohibited federal government employees from striking, ordered walkouts to return before 11:00 am EST Wednesday or be fired.[11] Of the 16,395 Americans who guided airplane takeoffs and landings, 4,199 stayed on the job. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) responded by using a central control station to send clearances to the nation's airports, which operated at 50% capacity.[12]

August 4, 1981 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • U.S. Patent 4,282,233 was granted to the American pharmaceutical company Schering-Plough for the active ingredient in Claritin,[13] loratadine, although the FDA would not approve the medicine's use until April 12, 1993. By 1999, Claritin would become the top selling antihistamine in America, with sales of $1.5 billion.[14]
  • U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, who in 1987 would become a central figure in the Iran-Contra Affair and then a conservative commentator, became a staffer on the National Security Council.[15]
  • In what was, at the time, the largest corporate merger in American history, the DuPont chemical company acquired majority ownership of the petroleum company Conoco Inc. for 7.8 billion dollars, buying up outstanding stock at 2:45 a.m.[16]
  • A day after a rebellion broke out at Santa Cruz, General Luis Garcia Meza was forced to resign as President of Bolivia. He was replaced by a junta led by General Celso Torrelio.[17]
  • Born: Marques Houston, American singer and actor, in Los Angeles
  • Died: Melvyn Douglas, 80, American film actor, winner of two Oscars

August 5, 1981 (Wednesday)[edit]

Reagan gives warning

August 6, 1981 (Thursday)[edit]

  • President Reagan gave the go-ahead for U.S. production of the neutron bomb, with warheads for 380 Lance missiles and 800 on 150-mm howitzers for U.S. troops in Europe.[22]
  • France's Communication Minister, Georges Fillioud, announced the end of the state radio monopoly in France and permitted privately owned stations for the first time. Within two months, 400 new stations were on the air.[23]
  • Died: Urban Tigner Holmes, American theologian; and Corradino D'Ascanio, 70 Italian inventor

August 7, 1981 (Friday)[edit]

  • The Washington Star published its final edition, with the headline "128 Years of Service Ending", and a letter from President Reagan noting, "There is a great silence today in Washington." The last masthead noted "129th year, No. 219" and the paper sold 640,000 copies, double its normal circulation and the largest run in the paper's history.[24]

August 8, 1981 (Saturday)[edit]

August 9, 1981 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Major League Baseball resumed after a 59-day-long strike and the cancellation of 713 games. The All-Star Game, originally set for July 14, opened in Cleveland, and regular games resumed the next day, with all teams at 0-0 for the second half of the season, and the four division leaders at the time of the strike getting playoff spots as first half pennant winners.
  • Born: Li Jiawei, Chinese-American table tennis star, in Beijing

August 10, 1981 (Monday)[edit]

  • Liberia's President, Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe, who had taken power in a bloody coup d'état a year earlier, had five of his fellow members on the "People's Redemption Council" arrested on charges of plotting his assassination. Vice-President Thomas Weh-Syn and council members Harris Johnson, Nelson Toe, Robert Sumo and Henry Zuo, were part of the Doe's group of 17 officers and soldiers who had overthrown and killed President William R. Tolbert on April 12, 1980. Over the next few days, they were given a military trial, and executed on Friday.[28]
  • Francisco Pinto Balsemão threatened to resign as Prime Minister of Portugal unless he received unanimous approval from the ruling Social Democratic Party for his economic reforms. His ultimatum was successful in implementing austerity measures.[29]
  • Born: Taufik Hidayat, Indonesian badminton player (Olympic gold 2004, World Champion 2005, in Bandung, darko934
  • Died: Jack Kiefer, 57, American mathematician, statistician, and pioneer of optimal design; and Dušan Popov, 79, Serbian-born Nazi spy who became a double agent for British intelligence

August 11, 1981 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The very first AIDS fundraiser took place at the New York City apartment of activist Larry Kramer. In that initial meeting, suggested by physician Dr. Alvin Friedman-Kien, $6,365 was raised, the first of billions of dollars set aside in the 30 years since.[30]

August 12, 1981 (Wednesday)[edit]

August 13, 1981 (Thursday)[edit]

August 14, 1981 (Friday)[edit]

  • The revival of 3-D films took place with the United States release of Comin' at Ya!, a "kitsch-laden spoof of spaghetti westerns" which had $13.5 million in revenues in its first months, briefly inspiring other studios to make 3-D movies.[37]
  • Died: Karl Böhm, 86, Austrian symphonic and operatic conductor

August 15, 1981 (Saturday)[edit]

August 16, 1981 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Three days after setting the mark at 100 meters, Mary T. Meagher set an even longer lasting record for the 200 meter butterfly.[39] Her time of 2 minutes, 5.96 seconds stood until May 17, 2000, when Susie O'Neill recorded 2:05.81.[36]
  • The Inkomo Barracks, main arsenal for the Zimbabwe National Army, was destroyed by South African engineers in a series of three explosions over a period of four hours.[40]
  • Died: Ervil LeBaron, 56, convicted murderer who had founded the Church of the Lamb of God, died at the Utah State Prison. On the same day, his brother and successor as the church's leader, Verlan LeBaron, 54, died in an auto accident in Mexico City.[41]

August 17, 1981 (Monday)[edit]

  • Iran hostage crisis: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York transferred to the N.V. Settlement Bank of the Netherlands the amount of $2,038,000,000 of Iranian assets to conclude the Algiers Agreement reached in January. Of that, one billion was transferred to an interest bearing "Security Account" for payment of future claims made against Iran, and the remainder was transferred to Bank Markazi Iran. Under the agreement, Iran was required to replenish the account if its balance falls below $500,000,000.[42]

August 18, 1981 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The "FAVOR smoke-free cigarette", invented in 1977 by John P. Ray, received U.S. Patent No. 4,284,089.[43] In 1986, it would be marketed, unsuccessfully, by Advanced Tobacco Products, as medical device for people who wanted to quit smoking.
  • Died: Anita Loos, 93, American novelist, screenwriter and playwright, best known for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; and Russell Bennett, 87, Broadway orchestrator

August 19, 1981 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • In an air battle between the United States and Libya, Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi sent two Sukhoi Su-22 fighter jets to intercept two U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat fighters that had taken off from the U.S.S. Nimitz over the Gulf of Sidra. The lead Libyan plane fired an Atoll heat-seeking missile at Lt. Lawrence Musczynski and missed. Musczynski fired a Sidewinder missile at the Libyan plane. Commander Hank Kleeman fired another missile at the Libyan wingman, who had time to eject to safety. Both Libyan Su-22s were destroyed, in the first dogfight involving U.S. planes since 1973. Libya reported that both pilots had ejected to safety, and claimed that an American fighter had been downed. President Reagan was asleep when word got in and was not informed until six hours later.[44]

August 20, 1981 (Thursday)[edit]

  • Born: Benjamin Barnes, English film actor who portrayed Prince Caspian in two Narnia films; in London
  • Died: Michael Devine, 27, the tenth and last casualty of the Maze Prison hunger strikers. Owen Carron, running for the IRA the same day in the by-election for the Fermanagh/South Tyrone constituency that had been held by Bobby Sands, won a place in the House of Commons.[45]

August 21, 1981 (Friday)[edit]

August 22, 1981 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Far Eastern Air Transport Flight 103 suffered an explosive decompression at an altitude of 22,000 feet over the Taiwanese village of Sanyi, Miaoli, killing all 110 persons on board. The Boeing 737-200 had taken off from Taipei 14 minutes earlier en route to Kaohsiung.[47] Subsequent investigation showed that the plane had lost cabin pressure on an August 5 flight, and again on a flight two hours earlier.[48] The probable cause was found to have been corrosion of the fuselage floor, possibly caused by the transport in the cargo hold of open barrels of fish preserved in brine.[49]

August 23, 1981 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Typhoon Thad, Japan's worst storm in 16 years, killed 40 people and left 20,000 homeless in Japan.[50]

August 24, 1981 (Monday)[edit]

  • South African troops invaded Angola as part of Operation Protea, capturing Xangongo and cutting its water supply. Two days later, Ondjiva was taken. Both sites, located along the border with Namibia, had been used as bases by SWAPO, the South West Africa People's Organization. South African involvement would last until 1988.[51]
  • In Tokyo, Sony Chairman Akio Morita introduced the Mavica, which he said "will make conventional chemical photography and development obsolete".[52] An acronym for MAgnetic VIdeo CAmera, Mavica was not the first digital camera, and created an analog image on a videodisk, similar to a freeze-frame on a videotape. The first digital camera on sale was the Dycam, introduced in 1991[53]
  • Died: Major General William F. Dean, highest ranking American officer to be taken prisoner in the Korean War. After his capture by North Korea on August 25, 1950, he remained a POW until September 4, 1953, six weeks after the ceasefire. He was awarded the Medal of Honor upon his return home.[54]

August 25, 1981 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Voyager 2, launched on August 20, 1977, made its closest approach to Saturn, passing within 41,000 kilometers of the ringed planet. Voyager 2 had reached Jupiter July 9, 1979, and would go on to Uranus (January 24, 1986) and Neptune (August 25, 1989)[55]
  • Died: Jack Tyree, 37, film stuntman. Tyree was killed during the filming of The Sword and the Sorcerer. He missed an airbag by 2 feet after jumping from a 180 foot high cliff.[56]

August 26, 1981 (Wednesday)[edit]

August 27, 1981 (Thursday)[edit]

  • A team of divers recovered a safe from the wreckage of the cruise ship SS Andrea Doria, which sank in the Atlantic Ocean on July 25, 1956. The safe, from the Bank of Rome, was located in a lounge on the ship's foyer, 225 feet below the surface.[57] On August 16, 1984, the safe was opened on live television as part of a syndicated program, Andrea Doria: The Final Chapter.[58] A large audience tuned in to see the results on 160 stations in 45 countries, and when the safe was opened, it yielded a few thousand dollars worth of waterlogged American dollars and Italian lire.[59]
  • Died: Wilhelm Schafer, 72, German paleontologist; and Valeri Kharlamov, 33, Soviet ice hockey star, in an auto accident in Moscow

August 28, 1981 (Friday)[edit]

  • For the third time in nine days, the world record for fastest running of one mile was broken. Sebastian Coe had broken the record of Steve Ovett with 3:48.53 in Zurich on August 19. Ovett took the record back on August 26 in Koblenz at 3:47.33, and Coe set the mark again at Brussels, at 3 minutes, 46.32 seconds, a time that would stand until Steve Cram's run in 1985.[60]

August 29, 1981 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Two men from the Abu Nidal organization fired guns and threw grenades into a synagogue on Vienna's Seitenstettengasse during worship services. Police who were guarding the building fought a gunbattle with the terrorists before arresting them. In the crossfire, two bystanders were killed and 15 others wounded in the crossfire. Nobody inside the synagogue was hurt.[61]
  • Died: Lowell Thomas, 89, American journalist and broadcaster

August 30, 1981 (Sunday)[edit]

  • A bomb planted by Mujahedeen terrorists at the office of Iran's Prime Minister Bahonar killed both him and Iranian President Raja'i. Both had been in office for less than a month.[62] After the double assassination, more than 2,000 Mujahedeen members and sympathizers were arrested and executed.[63]
  • Died: Vera-Ellen, 60, American dancer and film actress

August 31, 1981 (Monday)[edit]

  • The Satellite Music Network went on the air, beginning a new era in radio broadcasting where local disk jockeys were replaced by music programming transmitted from a central location. "Network Radio Is Turning into Satellites", New York Times, August 2, 1981. The SMN transmitted from Mokena, Illinois 24 hours per day, with breaks for local advertising and news, and served 600 stations before being purchased by ABC Radio in 1989.[64]
  • A bomb exploded at the U.S. Air Force base in Ramstein, West Germany, injuring 20 people.[65]


  1. ^ 100 Media Moments That Changed America By Jim Willis p137
  2. ^ Brent Mann,Blinded by the Lyrics: Behind the Lines of Rock and Roll's Most Baffling Songs(Citadel Press, 2005) p29
  3. ^ Stephen Hunt, The White Guy: A Field Guide (Douglas & McIntyre, 2009) p108.
  4. ^ David Konow, Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal (Random House, Inc., 2002) p134
  5. ^ "Suspected Olympic massacre mastermind shot", Montreal Gazette, August 6, 1981, p10 Edward Mickolus, The Terrorist List: A-K (ABC-CLIO, 2009) p159
  6. ^ "29 killed by gas fumes in Mexico", Milwaukee Journal, August 4, 1981, p2
  7. ^ Theodore Lewis Glasser and Charles T. Salmon, Public Opinion and the Communication of Consent (Guilford Press, 1995) p150
  8. ^ "Happy Birthday, Thong! The Itty-Bitty Underwear, Once a Novelty, Now a Cultural Phenomenon",, August 2, 2001; Sam Stall, et al., The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures: 1,001 Things You Hate to Love (Quirk Books, 2004) p276
  9. ^ "Rajai Sworn In; Bani-Sadr Predicts Revolt", Pittsburgh Press, August 2, 1981, pA-8
  10. ^ David E. Martin and Roger W. H. Gynn, The Olympic Marathon (Human Kinetics, 2000) p273
  11. ^ "Air strikers get Reagan deadline- Return in 48 hours or be fired, president says", Milwaukee Journal, August 3, 1981, p1
  12. ^ a b "The Rise and Demise of PATCO", by Herbert R. Northrup, in Public Sector Labor Relations: Analysis and Readings (Lexington Books, 1988) pp251-252
  13. ^
  14. ^ Chris P. Miller and Mark J. Evans, The Chemist's Companion Guide to Patent Law (John Wiley and Sons, 2010) p195
  15. ^ Lisa Klobuchar, The Iran-Contra Affair: Political Scandal Uncovered (Compass Point Books, 2008) p45
  16. ^ "Du Pont Claims Conoco Victory", Pittsburgh Press, August 5, 1981, p1
  17. ^ "Bolivian president replaced by junta", Montreal Gazette, August 5, 1981, p14
  18. ^ "Air Controllers Getting Pink Slips- California Strikers 1st To Go", Pittsburgh Press, August 6, 1981, p1
  19. ^ "Rocket blows up during test", Milwaukee Journal, August 6, 1981, p2-4
  20. ^ Andrew J. Butrica, Single Stage to Orbit: Politics, Space Technology, and the Quest for Reusable Rocketry (JHU Press, 2003) p38
  21. ^ "Assassins Kill Iran Minister", The Bulletin (Bend, OR) August 5, 1981, p1
  22. ^ Giriraj Shah, Encyclopaedia of International Terrorism, Volume 2 (Anmol Publications, 2002) p710
  23. ^ Paris Africain: rhythms of the African diaspora By James A. Winders p30
  24. ^ "A Star Burns Out In The Nation's Capital", The Evening Independent (St. Petersburg, FL), August 7, 1981, p2
  25. ^ National Aquarium, Baltimore website
  26. ^ "Burma Under the Military: Towards a Chronology", by David L. Steinberg, Contemporary Southeast Asia (1981) p244
  27. ^ "U.S. Clay Court Jaeger's first major pro title", Tri City Herald, August 9, 1981, p32
  28. ^ "5 alleged plotters shot in Liberia", Anchorage Daily News, August 15, 1981, p a-11
  29. ^ Jon V. Kofas, Independence From America: Global Integration And Inequality (Ashgate Publishing, 2005) p142
  30. ^ Larry Kramer, as told to Lawrence D. Mass, We Must Love One Another Or Die: The Life and Legacies of Larry Kramer (Palgrave Macmillan, 1999) p37
  31. ^ "IBM joins home computer field", Milwaukee Sentinel, August 13, 1981, p2-4
  32. ^ Sally Senzell Isaacs, Front Page Lives: Bill and Melinda Gates (Heinemann-Raintree Library, 2009) pp50-51
  33. ^ Sandra Weber, The Personal Computer (Infobase Publishing, 2004) p32
  34. ^ Peter B. Levy, Encyclopedia of the Reagan-Bush Years (ABC-CLIO, 1996) p123' "Reagan Rips Kremlin, Signs Two Economic Bills", Pittsburgh Press, August 13, 1981, pA-1
  35. ^ "Meagher breaks own world mark", Milwaukee Sentinel, August 14, 1981, p2-3
  36. ^ a b Andrew Postman and Larry Stone, The Ultimate Book of Sports Lists (Black Dog Publishing, 2003) p65
  37. ^ Ray Zone, 3-D Revolution: The History of Modern Stereoscopic Cinema (University Press of Kentucky, 2012) p111; "Spagetti Western 'Comin' At Ya' In 3-D", Sarasota Herald-Tribune, August 14, 1981, p5-C
  38. ^ Chester Gillis, Roman Catholicism in America (Columbia University Press, 1999) p229; "Nun's Eternal World Network Debuts Tonight on Cable TV", Gainesville (FL) Sun - August 15, 1981, pB-1
  39. ^ "Meagher breaks world mark again", Milwaukee Sentinel, August 17, 1981, p2-1
  40. ^ Joseph Hanlon, Beggar Your Neighbours: Apartheid Power in Southern Africa (Indiana University Press, 1986) p175; "Arms, munitions lost in Zimbabwe blasts", The Vancouver Sun - August 17, 1981, pA-10
  41. ^ J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America (Taylor & Francis, 1992) p55' "Polygamist cult leaders meet death on same day", Beaver County (PA) Times, August 19, 1981, pC-12
  42. ^ Karen Lee, Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal Reports, Volume 36 (Cambridge University Press, 2006) pp9-10
  43. ^ Archived May 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. ; "Legacy Tobacco Documents Library",
  44. ^ Ivan Rendall, Rolling Thunder: Jet Combat from World War II to the Gulf War (Simon and Schuster, 1999)
  45. ^ Cynthia L. Irvin, Militant Nationalism: Between Movement and Party in Ireland and the Basque Country (University of Minnesota Press, 1999) p90; "Carron elected to Sands' seat", Modesto (CA) Bee, August 22, 1981, pA-5
  46. ^ Ian C. Friedman, Latino Athletes pp92-93
  47. ^ "Crash of jetliner kills 110 in Taiwan", Milwaukee Journal, August 22, 1981, p1
  48. ^
  49. ^ Ahmed Khairy Noor, Structures Technology for Future Aerospace Systems (AIAA, 2000) p130
  50. ^ "Typhoon kills 24 in Japan", Milwaukee Journal, August 24, 1981, p2A
  51. ^ Cecilia Tortajada and Asit K. Biswas, Management of Transboundary Rivers and Lakes (Springer, 2008 ) p44
  52. ^ "Picture this: Camera that has no film", Montreal Gazette, August 25, 1981, p48
  53. ^ Mikkel Aaland, Shooting Digital: Pro Tips for Taking Great Pictures with Your Digital Camera (John Wiley and Sons, 2006) xiv; "Portable Camera Takes Pictures Without Film", Miami Herald, May 13, 1991
  54. ^ Paul M. Edwards, To Acknowledge a War: the Korean War in American Memory (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000) pp78-79;
  55. ^ Patrick Irwin, Giant Planets of Our Solar System: Atmospheres, Composition, and Structure (Springer 2003) p289
  56. ^ "Stuntman dies doing dive", The Calgary Herald - Aug 27, 1981, pB-15
  57. ^ "Divers find first safe from the Andrea Doria", Miami News, August 28, 1981, p1
  58. ^ "Andrea Doria safe to be opened live on two-hour special", Miami News, August 15, 1984, p4B
  59. ^ "Andrea Doria safe held only soggy paper money", Saskatoon Phoenix, August 17, 1984, pB9
  60. ^ Michael Sandrock, Running with the Legends (Human Kinetics, 1996) p315; "Ovett snatches record back", Glasgow Herald, August 27, 1981, p1
  61. ^ "Synagogue attacked: 2 killed", Sydney Morning Herald, August 31, 1981, p5
  62. ^ "Iranians mourn two slain leaders", Spokane Daily Chronicle, August 31, 1981, p1
  63. ^ Stephen E. Atkins, Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004) p212
  64. ^ Jim Cox, American Radio Networks: A History (McFarland, 2009) p199
  65. ^ "Bomb blast injures 20 at US base in Germany", Milwaukee Journal, August 31, 1981, p1