The year of Band Aid, the UK Miners strike and numerous scientific discoveries, 1984 events will forever be remembered. The winter and summer Olympics saw record numbers of nations gather together to compete, despite political tensions around the globe. Further events which hit the headlines found in our 1984 newspapers.

timeline 1984

The USA Olympic Team wave at spectators during the 1984 opening ceremony
Image: Wikimedia Commons

1984 Timeline

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January 1: Brunei becomes independent from the United Kingdom. It had been a British protectorate since 1888.

January 3: The Financial Times introduces its Stock Exchange Index, listing the 100 companies with the highest market capitalization listed on the London Stock Exchange.

January 9: Sarah Tisdall, a 23-year-old UK Office clerk working for the Foreign Office is sentenced to six month’s imprisonment under the Official Secrets Act for leaking government documents to The Guardian newspaper.

January 10: After a long history of religion and politics the United States restores diplomatic relations with Holy See (the Vatican).

January 14: A fire at Maysfield Leisure Centre in Belfast kills six people. They are overcome by toxic fumes from burning gym mats in the center’s storeroom.

January 18: 83 workers are killed, and a further 16 injured in an explosion at Mitsui Miike coal mine in Fukuoka, Japan.

January 22: Super Bowl XVIII is played at Tampa Stadium, Florida. The Los Angeles Raiders win 38–9 against the Washington Football Team.

January 22: Apple run their ad for the Macintosh personal computer during the Super Bowl. The dystopian world portrayed in the advert is inspired by George Orwell’s novel 1984. The ad, directed by Ridley Scott, is met with both criticism and praise and is replayed on numerous news channels due to the stir it causes.

January 24: Apple’s Macintosh computer goes on sale, priced at $2,500.

January 27: Michael Jackson is rushed to hospital with second degree burns from pyrotechnics while filming a Pepsi commercial.

timeline 1984

Original Macintosh computer
Image: Wikimedia Commons


February 3: Dr. John Buster and his research team at Harbor–UCLA Medical Center announce the birth of a healthy baby. The baby is the first successful result of embryo transfer, where a fertilized egg is transferred from one woman to another. This method differs from test tube embryos, where the egg is fertilized outside the woman’s body in a lab.

February 4: Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon hits number 1 on US billboard chart and remains there for three weeks.

February 7: The first untethered spacewalk is made by Astronauts Bruce McCandless II and Robert L. Stewart during NASA’s STS-41-B space mission. Rather than be attached to the shuttle, the astronauts control their propulsion using specially designed jetpack.

February 8: The opening ceremony for the XIV Olympic Winter Games are held in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.

February 14: One of the most famous events in 1984, Torvill and Dean enter the record books by scoring a perfectly across the board, winning a gold medal for ice skating.

February 16: Bill Johnson becomes the first ever American to take gold in an Olympic downhill skiing event.

February 19: The Sarajevo Winter Olympics close. Over the events 49 nations took part, more National Olympic Committees than any preceding Winter Olympics.

February 24: In Los Angeles, California, Tyrone Mitchell opens fire at an elementary school playground. Two students are killed and 12 injured. As SWAT teams swarm the house he had been firing from, Mitchell turns a shotgun on himself and dies.

February 26: In Florida, the Beauty Queen Killer murders his first victim. Christopher Wilder goes on to commit at least seven more homicides of aspiring models over the space of seven weeks.

February 26: US troops pull out of Beirut. Their presence was originally a bid to restore peace between warring Christian and Muslim factions within Lebanon.

February 28: Spitting Image, a satirical puppet TV show premieres in the UK.


March 2: The This is Spinal Tap mockumentary is released in the US. The film popularizes the term “up to 11”.

March 5: Iraq is accused of using chemical weapons against Iran. The use of mustard gas on Majnoon Island is thought to cause 2,500 casualties.

March 6: British coal miners begin their strike to protest the closing down of mines by Thatcher’s government. The strike lasts a whole year and is described as “the most bitter industrial dispute in British history”

March 14: President of Sinn Féin political party, Gerry Adams is seriously wounded in an assassination attempt. His car is shot at 20 times by members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, leaving him with three bullet wounds.

March 16: CIA station chief based in Beirut, William Francis Buckley, is kidnapped by Hezbollah. He dies in captivity after 15 months of torture to reveal his network of agents.

March 16: At Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, Louisiana, Gary Plauche shoots and kills Jeff Doucet. The vigilante killing is captured on film by a TV crew who were filming Doucet arriving in Louisiana to stand trial for the kidnap and sexual assault of Plauche’s son Jody.

March 22: Seven people are charged with Satanic ritual abuse of school children at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California. The McMartin Preschool trial becomes the longest in US history and all 321 charges are eventually dropped due to testimony from the children being coerced by an unlicensed therapist.

March 24: Lionel Richie’s single Hello tops the UK chart and remains there for six weeks.

March 27: Musical Starlight Express opens in London at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.

March 30: The United Nations investigate the claims of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons. Evidence is found proving the use of mustard gas and nerve agents and the practice is condemned by the UN.


April 1: One day before his 45th birthday, Marvin Gaye dies. The famous singer intervenes in an altercation between his parents and is shot by his own father.

April 2: Soviet mission Soyuz T-11 launches Indian Squadron Leader Rakesh into space. Rakesh is the only Indian citizen to ever go into space.

April 4: During an official news conference, President Ronald Reagan calls for chemical weapons to be internationally banned.

April 9: At the 56th Academy Awards, Terms of Endearment wins five of the 11 Oscars it is nominated for. This includes Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Jack Nicholson.

April 12: In Egged, Israel, bus number 300 is hijacked by Palestinian gunmen demanding the release of 500 Arab prisoners. After a high-speed chase and failed roadblocks, Israeli military forces storm the bus after forcing it to stop by shooting and bursting its tyres. Two of the hijackers and one hostage is killed in the siege and the remaining two gunmen are executed.

April 13: Indian armed forces launch Operation Meghdoot, to capture the Siachen Glacier in the region of Kashmir. The assault takes place on the highest battlefield in the world with an altitude of 6,400 metres (21,000 feet).

April 15: Comedian Tommy Cooper dies live on TV. Cooper suffers a massive heart attack and his fall backwards gasping is initially thought to be a part of his comedic act.

April 17: Metropolitan Police officer, Yvonne Fletcher is killed when shots are fired into a crowd of anti-Gaddafi demonstrators protesting outside the Libyan People’s Bureau. Fletcher was there as part of the crowd control for the protest. The British Home Secretary orders police to siege the Libyan Embassy but the gunman is not identified.

April 20: In the baggage area of Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport, London a bomb explodes. 22 people are injured but there are no fatalities.

April 24: The sun releases an X-class solar flare. Flares classified as X can affect the Earth, causing blackouts and radio disruptions. This flare measures as X13, the second most powerful flare recorded (until an X20 occurs in 1989).


May 7: After a five-year battle, an out-of-court settlement of $180m is awarded to American Vietnam war veterans suffering illnesses and disabilities caused by Agent Orange.

May 8: In London, construction of the Thames Barrier is officially completed. The movable barrier system is designed to stop flooding across 125 square kilometers (48.3 square miles) of the city.

May 8: As retaliation for the USA led boycott of the Moscow hosted Olympics in 1980, the Soviet Union announce they will boycott the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. The games will take place in Los Angeles, California.

May 12: Nelson Mandela, imprisoned in South Africa sees his wife for the first time in 22 years.

May 19: UK soccer team, Everton win the FA Cup over Watford in the final at Wembley Stadium. The score at the final whistle stands at 2-0, awarding them the trophy for the fourth time.

May 23: In Lancashire, England, 16 people die in a methane gas explosion at Abbeystead water treatment works.

May 27: Tulsa, Oklahoma is hit by overnight flash-floods. 15 inches (38 cm) of rain falls over a four-hour period and 14 people are killed.

May 17: Prince Charles delivers a speech about modern architecture calling the design for a new building for the National Gallery a “monstrous carbuncle” on the face of London.

May 30: In soccer, Liverpool and Roma of Italy resort to penalties after a 1–1 draw in the final of the European Cup at Olympic Stadium in Rome. With this win, Liverpool become the first English club to win three major trophies in the same season.

May 31: Six inmates escape from death row at Mecklenburg Correctional Center, in Virginia. Lem Tuggle, Earl Clanton, Derick Peterson, Willie Jones and brothers James and Linwood Briley become the only prisoners to ever escape from death row in the United States. All six are apprehended within days of the escape.

timeline 1984

The Thames Barrier in London
Image: Geograph


June 1: In Wokingham, Berkshire, seven-year-old Mark Tildesley goes missing from a local fairground. His body is not found, but after a lengthy investigation, and appearing on the UK’s first ever episode of Crimewatch, Leslie Bailey is jailed.

June 4: Born in the U.S.A. Springsteen’s seventh album is released in America.

June 6: USSR computer programmer releases his new game Tetris which is only available for the Electronika 60 console.

June 8: A sudden F5 tornado hits Barneveld, Wisconsin. Meteorologists are unable to predict the twister which kills 9 people and injures 200 more. Estimated damage is around $25,000,000 making it one of the most major events in 1984.

June 18: Alan Berg a radio host in Colorado is shot outside his home. The Jewish lawyer and radio personality is assassinated by members of The Order, a white supremacist group.

June 18: In South Yorkshire, England a violent clash between striking miners and police is dubbed the Battle of Orgreave. 95 of those picketing are arrested and as many as 123 people are reported to be injured.

June 20: In Britain it’s announced that O-level and CSE exams will be replaced by GCSEs. The new form of exams will be taught starting in 1986 and examinations will take place from 1988 onwards.

June 22: Richard Branson’s airline company, Virgin Atlantic Airways makes its inaugural flight from Gatwick Airport in London to Newark, New York.

June 25: The album, Purple Rain is released by artist Prince.

June 30: Elton John’s Night and Day Concert at Wembley Stadium is broadcast live in its entirety across BBC radio.


July 7: When Doves Cry hits the billboard number one slot in the US and stays there for five weeks, becoming the most successful song of the year.

July 9: In the early hours of the morning the south roof of York Minster is set ablaze. The fire, thought to be caused by lightning, is eventually extinguished by 114 firefighters. The burning roof is intentionally collapsed to save the rest of the building, some of which dates back to 1220.

July 13: 19-year-old Terry Wallis loses control of his truck outside the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. The accident puts Wallis into a coma and kills his friend. He will eventually awaken after 19 years.

July 17: The National Minimum Drinking Age Act is passed in America. Those under the age of 21 can’t buy or possess alcohol. Before the act is passed the legal drinking age varied from 18 to 21 depending on which American State you were in.

July 18: The first female captain of a Boeing 747, Beverly Burns makes her maiden voyage as captain.

July 18: San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre happens in, San Diego, California. Declared the deadliest shooting by a single gunman, James Oliver Huberty, 41, kills 21 people and injures 19. Huberty is killed by a police sniper who was deployed to a rooftop opposite the fast food restaurant.

July 19: The largest onshore earthquake recorded in the UK hits the Llŷn Peninsula in Wales. The quake measured at 5.4 on the Richter scale and was felt throughout almost the entirety of Great Britain.

July 25: Cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya becomes the first ever woman to perform a spacewalk during Soviet space mission Salyut 7.

July 28: The Summer Olympic Games open in Los Angeles, California. Despite the Soviet boycott, a record-breaking 140 nations take part.

July 29: The first women’s cycling event to be included in the Olympic program is held. The women’s individual road race gold medal is awarded to Connie Carpenter from team USA.


August 2: Jeff Blatnick, who is in remission for Hodgkin’s disease, becomes the first American Greco-Roman wrestler to win a gold medal at the Olympics.

August 3: 32 people are killed when a bomb detonates in Madras India airport. The bomb is intended for Air Lanka flight UL-122 and timed to detonate once the plane lands. Due to a mix up at the airport and the passenger who checked the bag not claiming it, the bag containing the explosives was not put on the flight and detonates in the wrong country.

August 3: Mary Lou Retton of the USA’s Olympic gymnastics team scores a perfect 10 for her final vault. She is the first American woman to win an Olympic gymnastics gold medal.

August 8: In the first women’s 400m hurdles event to be held at an Olympic Games, Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco beats the odds and wins the race. She beats her nearest opponent by five meters (16 feet) to become the first female Muslim to ever win a gold medal.

August 11: US President Ronald Reagan jokes about bombing Russia during a mic check for a radio interview. The remark is leaked to the press and becomes an infamous report around the world.

August 11: Front runners Zola Budd, running for Great Britain, and Mary Decker from the US collide while competing in the Olympic 3,000 meters final. Budd had been in the lead but finishes seventh after the crash and Decker fails to finish due to injury. This incident pits the British press against the American press as each country backs their own runner. Officials later confirm that Budd did not purposefully trip Decker.

August 16: Automobile executive, John DeLorean is acquitted of drug trafficking charges in Los Angeles. The founder of DeLorean Motor Company was arrested in 1982 after being caught on tape agreeing to bankroll a drugs deal worth $24 million. The tape is deemed entrapment and DeLorean is cleared of all charges.

August 27: In a program designed to inspire more children to take an interest in math and science, Ronald Reagan announces NASAs Teacher in Space project. The project will send real teachers into space alongside astronauts and return them to class afterwards to share their experiences.

August 25: American author, Truman Capote, author of the novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s dies of liver cancer aged 59.

August 30: NASA space Shuttle Discovery takes off on its maiden voyage on mission STS-41-D to deploy three communications satellites. 

timeline 1984

Truman Capote
Image: Wikimedia Commons


September 2: Two rival motorcycle gangs in Milperra, a suburb of Sydney Australia clash resulting in a shootout. Seven people are killed with a further 12 wounded when gangs known as the Bandidos and Comancheros in Sydney, Australia. The incident leads to changes of Australia’s gun laws, resulting in stricter parameters for who is issued a gun license.

September 5: Western Australia abolishes the death penalty, the last state of Australia to do so.

September 7: An outbreak of salmonella kills 19 people across two Yorkshire hospitals in the space of two weeks.

September 10: British Geneticist, Alec Jeffreys develops genetic fingerprinting, allowing him to identify people using their DNA. The method, when commercialized will allow forensic scientists to assist with solving crimes.

September 10: Inspired by the death of a classmate from cancer, Sean O’Keefe cycles from Santa Monica, California to New York City. O’Keefe, aged just 11 is the youngest person to cycle coast-to-coast across America and his 24 day bike ride is funded and supported by his immediate family.

September 15: Princess Diana gives birth to her second child with Prince Charles. The new prince’s name is announced the next day as Henry Charles Albert David.

September 18: Former United States Air Force colonel, Joe Kittinger sets a world record for the longest flight made in a 3,000 cubic meter balloon. In doing so, Kittinger becomes the first solo person to fly a gas balloon across the Atlantic. He flies from Caribou, Maine, aiming to land in Russia but instead crash landed in Montenotte, Italy.

September 20: A member of Hezbollah drives a car packed with explosives into the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut. 24 people, including the bomber, are killed.

September 23: In the UK, Threads, a haunting TV film set in a post-apocalyptic Britain, airs on BBC Two.

September 24: The American family sitcom Happy Days is cancelled after 11 seasons.


October 4: The first Australians reach the summit of Mount Everest. Tim Macartney-Snape and Greg Mortimer completed the clime across the mountain’s North face without the use of oxygen tanks.

October 9: Children’s TV show Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends is first broadcast in the UK. The series is based on original stories by Rev. W Awdry and is narrated by former Beatle, Ringo Starr.

October 11: Astronaut, Kathryn D. Sullivan becomes the first female American to perform a spacewalk. NASA mission STS-41-G is also the same mission where Marc Garneau becomes the first Canadian in space.

October 12: An assassination attempt on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her British Cabinet happens in Brighton, England. The Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb the hotel where the Prime Minister is staying. Thatcher narrowly escapes but the attack kills five people and injures 31 more.

October 13: Stevie Wonder reaches the billboard number 1 in the US with his song I Just Called to Say I Love You. The song stays there for three weeks.

October 14: The Detroit Tigers win the Baseball World Series defeating the San Diego Padres.

October 16: Archbishop Desmond Tutu is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

October 23: BBC News presenter Michael Buerk reports on famine in Ethiopia which has already claimed thousands of lives. As a result, numerous charities across the world begin raising funds to support the millions of Ethiopians affected by the famine. Singer Bob Geldof views the heart-breaking report and subsequently forms the Band Aid supergroup, more information about this can be read at the end of this 1984 timeline.

October 26: James Cameron’s film, The Terminator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is released in the US.

October 31: Indira Gandhi the Indian Prime Minister is assassinated at her home in New Delhi. Her by two bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh fire numerous rounds into the politician and are both executed for her murder.


November 1: Anti-Sikh riots occur across India following the murder of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Tens of thousands of Sikhs are killed in Delhi and various parts of India.

November 2: In Raleigh, North Carolina, convicted murderer Velma Barfield becomes the first woman in the United States to be executed since 1962.

November 6: In the Presidential election, Ronald Reagan defeats Democratic candidate Walter F. Mondale with a landslide victory. The Democrats only gain majority in one state, giving the Republicans 49.

November 8: Anna Fisher becomes the first mother to go into orbit when she launches on NASA mission STS-51A.

November 12: Paul McCartney releases his single We All Stand Together.

November 9: Horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street is released in the United States.

November 19: A series of explosions at a petroleum storage facility in San Juan, Mexico ignites a major fire. Thousands of people suffer severe burns and around 500 people are killed.

November 23: The Oxford Circus station on the London underground is caught alight. Around 1,000 passengers aboard five trains are trapped underground by the smoke and fire but no-one is killed.

November 25: 36 pop musicians from across Britain and Ireland gather in a Notting Hill, London studio to record Do They Know It’s Christmas to raise money for Ethiopian famine victims.

November 30: Two South Wales miners are charged with murder after dropping a concrete block from a bridge onto a taxi which was part of a police convoy escorting working miners. The driver, David Wilkie dies and his passenger, who is a miner who was working despite the strike, escapes with minor injuries.


December 1: To gather data about airplane crashes NASA and the FAA stage a Controlled Impact Demonstration. They intentionally crash a remote-controlled Boeing 720 in the Mojave Desert in California.

December 1: Beverly Hills Cop starring Eddie Murphy premieres in Los Angeles.

December 3: In Bhopal, India, a chemical leak at a pesticide plant exposes over half a million people to methyl isocyanate. Known as the worst ever industrial disaster, thousands are killed immediately and tens of thousands more continue to suffer the aftermath.

December 8: Neo-Nazi and leader of The Order, Robert Jay Mathews is killed in a shootout with the FBI. The agents had been surrounding Matthews’ house for over 24 hours before the shootout begins.

December 10: Astronomers in Arizona announce the discovery of a planet outside our solar system. The planet orbits a star known as Van Biesbroeck 8, located 21 lightyears away from Earth.

December 11: Do They Know It’s Christmas?” goes to the top of the UK Singles Chart. The Band Aid charity single was released December 3rd.

December 19: Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom signs the Sino-British Joint Declaration, an agreement to return Hong Kong to China in 1997.

December 22: Madonna’s single Like a Virgin single goes to the billboard number 1 in America for 6 weeks.

December 22: Bernhard Goetz shoots and injures four muggers on the New York City subway. The incident sparks a debate on the lengths people should go in self-defence.

December 31: Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen, loses control of his car while driving along the A57 outside Sheffield, England. As a result, he loses his left arm.

UK Coal Miners’ Strike

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) president, Arthur Scargill, led the movement for a major strike to shut down the British coal industry to protest the permanent closure of 20 pits across the UK. In 1984 there were 170 active collieries, most of whose employees went out on strike, with miners in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire being the last to join the strike action.
The picket lines became places of violence and clashes with the police as those who chose to continue working were labelled ‘scabs’. By the end of the strike in March 1985 11,000 workers had been arrested and 5,000 of the faced trial for a variety of offences. The number of workers on the poverty line increased as the months went on; more and more miners struggling to make ends meet began to go back to work. When the strike ceased on March 3rd, 1985, as an act of pride, many returned to the pits marching behind brass bands as a show of loyalty to their cause.

Band Aid

The charity supergroup Band Aid was formed by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure was formed to raise funds for the anti-famine effort in Ethiopia. With Geldof’s words and Ure’s melody the song Do They Know It’s Christmas is created. The song recording was done in one day as the studio could only provide 24 hours of free time to the cause. Artists flew into London to record at the Notting Hill studio and all recorded their segments in two or three takes. Bono was the only artist to perfect his recording on the first try, and Culture Club’s Boy George took the most time due to a sore throat.

The single sold over one million copies in its first week of sale and raised over £8 million within 12 months. The song remained the highest selling record of all time in the UK until 1997.

Indira Gandhi Assassination

The first female Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi was elected in January 1966 and remained in office until March 1977. She was elected again in January 1980 to serve a second term. Tensions between religious groups came to a head when in June 1984, she ordered a raid on a Sikh temple in Punjab for the army to flush out armed Sikh extremists. This is though to be what started death threats towards her. Gandhi vouched for Beant Singh, her Sikh bodyguard rather than transfer him from her protective duty as he had given her many years of loyal service. Beant was killed shortly after he and fellow bodyguard Satwant Singh assassinated the Prime Minister. Singh survived and stood trial in ’86; he was subsequently executed in 1989.