On March 30th, 1981, the U.S. President, Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest while exiting a Washington hotel. Two police officers and Press Secretary James Brady were also wounded. John Hinckley (b. 1955) was the would be assassin. He claimed that he carried out the deed in order to impress teen-actress Jodie Foster. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to an institution for psychiatric care; I think he is still there.
On April 12th, the Space Shuttle, Columbia with John Young and Robert Crippen, was launched into orbit to return to Earth on April 14. It is the first time a manned reusable spacecraft had returned from orbit. On June 5th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 5 homosexual men in Los Angeles have a rare form of pneumonia seen only in patients with weakened immune systems. These were the first recognized cases of AIDS. On July 7th, President Ronald Reagan nominated the first woman, Sandra Day O'Connor, to the Supreme Court of the United States. At the end of that month a worldwide television audience of over 700 million people watched the Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer; it took place at St Paul's Cathedral in London.
During August of 1981, IBM brought out its first PC, the 5150 IBM PC. Its base price was $1,565. Alongside "microcomputer" and "home computer", the term "personal computer" was already in use before 1981. However, because of the success of the IBM Personal Computer, the term PC came to mean more specifically a microcomputer compatible with IBM's PC products.
That September, France abolished capital punishment. So, too, that September, the Boeing 767 airliner made its first flight. Up to this point, two engined aeroplanes were only allowed to fly relatively short distances over water. In 1985, the 767 became the first twin-engined airliner to receive regulatory approval for extended overseas flights. That October, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat was assassinated during a parade by army members who belonged to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization; they opposed his negotiations with Israel.
Other people who died in 1981: Albert Speer (b.1905), German Nazi architect and war minister. His books, most notably Inside the Third Reich and Spandau: The Secret Diaries, provide a unique and personal look into the personalities of the Nazi era, and has become much valued by historians. Will Durant, American philosopher and writer (b.1885), died. Others, William Holden, American actor (b. 1918); Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber (b.1914). And while on the subject of boxing, we mention that, on December 11th, Muhammad Ali fought his last fight against Trevor Berbick; Ali lost. Heavyweight Berbick was a Jamaican/Canadian Born August 1, 1954; his total number of fights, 61; Wins, 49; Wins by KO, 33.
On a personal vein: In January, 1981, I was elected as President of the Dartmouth Bar Society, and, as such, was automatically made a member of Council which oversees the Nova Scotia Barristers Society. I kept this position for a couple of years, during which I served on a number of committees.
There were a number of great movies in 1981. There was Raiders of the Lost Ark starring Harrison Ford and directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by George Lucas. This American fantasy-adventure film spawned a prequel, two sequels, a television series, books, comics, and video games. Then there was On Golden Pond, starring Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda (Academy Award for Best Actor) and Katharine Hepburn (Best Actress). Arthur with Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, and John Gielgud (Best Supporting Actor). Then there was Chariots of Fire, one of my very favourites; it was a British production which tells of the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture. We cannot help but mention others, it was a banner year, 1981, for movies: The Four Seasons with Alan Alda, Carol Burnett, and Sandy Dennis; The French Lieutenant's Woman with Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons. American Werewolf in London was a film which won the 1981 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film and an Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. Over the years, the American Werewolf in London has accumulated a cult following. I'll mention just two more: Gallipoli and the 1981 production, The Postman Always Rings Twice.
In music for 1981, we have: Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes, 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton, The Tide Is High by Blondie, The Winner Takes It All by Abba, Time by Alan Parsons Project, and Arthur's Theme by Christopher Cross
And that was the year, 1981.
NEXT: [Chapter Thirty-Three: Halifax-to-Bras'Dor, 1982]