News and Events of 1981

World Events

World Statistics

Population: 4.529 billion
population by decade

Nobel Peace Prize:
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

More World Statistics...

U.S. Events

U.S. Statistics

President: Ronald W. Reagan
Vice President: George Bush
Population: 229,465,714
Life expectancy: 74.1 years
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 58.6
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000): 52.6

More U.S. Statistics...


US GDP (1998 dollars):   $3,115.90 billion
Federal spending:   $678.25 billion
Federal debt:   $994.8 billion
Median Household Income
(current dollars):  
Consumer Price Index:   90.9
Unemployment:   7.6%
Cost of a first-class stamp:   $0.15 ($0.18 as of 3/22/81; $0.20 as of 11/1/81)


Super Bowl
Oakland d. Philadelphia (27-10)
World Series
LA Dodgers d. NY Yankees (4-2)
NBA Championship
Boston d. Houston (4-2)
Stanley Cup
NY Islanders d. Minnesota (4-1)
Women: Chris Evert Lloyd d. H. Mandlikova (6-2 6-2)
Men: John McEnroe d. B. Borg (4-6 7-6 7-6 6-4)
Kentucky Derby Champion
Pleasant Colony
NCAA Basketball Championship
Indiana d. North Carolina (63-50)
NCAA Football Champions
Clemson (12-0-0)


Entertainment Awards

Pulitzer Prizes
Fiction: A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
Drama: Crimes of the Heart, Beth Henley

Oscars awarded in 1981
Academy Award, Best Picture: Ordinary People, Ronald L. Schwary, producer (Paramount)

Nobel Prize for Literature: Elias Canetti (Bulgaria)

1981 Emmy Awards

1981 Tony Awards

Grammys awarded in 1981
Record of the Year: "Sailing," Christopher Cross
Album of the Year: Christopher Cross, Christopher Cross (Warner Bros.)
Song of the Year: "Sailing," Christopher Cross, songwriter

Miss America: Susan Powell (OK)

More Entertainment Awards...


  • MTV goes on the air running around the clock music videos, debuting with "Video Killed the Radio Star."
  • The Supreme Court rules to allow television cameras in the courtroom.
  • Pacman-mania sweeps the country.


  • Raiders of the Lost Ark, Chariots of Fire, On Golden Pond, Reds, Atlantic City



Nobel Prizes in Science

Chemistry: Roald Hoffmann (US) and Kenichi Fukui (Japan), for applying quantum-mechanics theories to predict the course of chemical reactions

Physics: Nicolaas Bloembergen, Arthur L. Schawlow (both US), and Kai M. Siegbahn (Sweden), for developing technologies with lasers and other devices to probe the secrets of complex forms of matter

Physiology or Medicine: Roger W. Sperry, David H. Hubel (both US), and Torsten N. Wiesel (Sweden), for studies vital to understanding the organization and functioning of the brain

  • AIDS is first identified. Background: Understanding AIDS
  • IBM introduces its first personal computer, running the Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-DOS). Background: Computers and Internet
  • The 236-m.p.h. TGV, Europe's first high-speed passenger train, begins operating out of Lyons, France.
  • The FDA approves the use of the artificial sweetener aspartame (Nutrasweet). Background: Health & Nutrition


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