World

80 moments from the '80s

By Deblina Chakraborty and Bernadette Tuazon, CNN

Updated 7:41 AM ET, Thu March 31, 2016
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An estimated 750 million people tuned in to watch Britain's Prince Charles marry Lady Diana Spencer on July 29, 1981. Click through to see more of the decade's most iconic moments, and then experience CNN's "The Eighties," which airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. starting on March 31. Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images
'Miracle on Ice': On February 22, 1980, a U.S. hockey team made up of college players and amateurs defeated the perennially favored Soviet Union in the semifinals of the Winter Olympics. Sports Illustrated recognized it as the No. 1 sports moment of the 20th century. The Americans went on to win the gold in front of a home crowd in Lake Placid, New York. Focus On Sport/Getty Images
Plane hero: A flight attendant helped save the day when a China Airlines jet undershot the runway and caught fire in Manila, Philippines, on February 27, 1980. Wang Wen Hwang stayed aboard the burning plane, even as her own clothing caught on fire, to help several passengers evacuate. She's pictured here leaping to safety. Eric Marrapodi/CNN
Mass exodus from Cuba: Starting in April 1980, more than 125,000 Cubans fled from the port of Mariel to Florida. Associated Press photographer Fernando Yovera captured this image of a U.S. Marine lifting a Cuban child off one of the boats that came into Key West on May 10, 1980. Of the 1,700 boats that made the journey from Cuba that year, many were overcrowded, and 27 migrants died before reaching the United States. Fernando Yovera/AP
The eruption of Mount St. Helens: Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington state in May 1980, leading to the deaths of 57 people. Triggered by an earthquake, the eruption blasted more than 1,000 feet off the top of the volcano. It left a huge crater and spread tons of volcanic ash across several states. USGS
The birth of cable news: CNN, the world's first 24-hour television news network, debuted on June 1, 1980. David Walker and Lois Hart, who were husband and wife, anchored the first broadcast. COTTEN ALSTON/CNN
The grandest of slams: In what's widely considered one of the greatest tennis matches of all time, Bjorn Borg, pictured, beat fierce rival and relative newcomer John McEnroe to win his fifth straight Wimbledon title in July 1980. The players' personalities were so different -- McEnroe hot-tempered and Borg calm and cool -- that they were called Fire and Ice. Borg retired the following year. Adam Stoltman/AP
Olympic upset in Moscow: British runner Sebastian Coe crosses the finish line to win the 1,500-meter final at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. This was considered a huge upset and one of the most memorable moments of that year's Games. Coe later entered politics and led London's winning bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. DIETER ENDLICHER/AP
Polish shipyard strike: In August 1980, Lech Walesa led a shipyard strike in Gdansk, Poland, in an effort to improve conditions for the country's workforce. The series of strikes that followed led to the Gdansk Agreement, which allowed workers the right to strike and organize unions. Peter Marlow/MAGNUM PHOTOS
'Pac-Man' fever takes hold: The video game "Pac-Man" -- featuring a hungry protagonist that must evade ghosts on his quest to eat tiny, white dots -- hit American arcades in October 1980 and became almost an instant success. Parent company Bandai Namco Entertainment sold more than 100,000 arcade units within 15 months. Its first name, "Puck-man," came from the Japanese "paku," or "to chomp." AP
The death of John Lennon: On December 8, 1980, Beatles singer John Lennon died at 40 after being shot multiple times in the chest by a man named Mark David Chapman. Here, fans gather to mourn the fallen musician outside of his New York City apartment building, where the shooting took place. Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
U.S. hostages are released: David Roeder -- pictured here waving -- was one of 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran. The Iran hostage crisis began in November 1979, when Iranian students stormed the embassy to demand the extradition of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi from the United States. It ended with the release of captives on January 20, 1981. AP
President Reagan is shot: In this Pulitzer Prize-winning photo by Associated Press photographer Ron Edmonds, U.S. President Ronald Reagan is shot in the left side while leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel on March 30, 1981. The Secret Service rushed Reagan to George Washington University Hospital, where he underwent surgery and recovered. The shooter, John W. Hinckley Jr., was later found not guilty by reason of insanity. RON EDMONDS/AP
Bob Marley's death: After a four-year battle with skin cancer that started on his toe and spread to his vital organs, legendary Jamaican musician Bob Marley died on May 11, 1981. He was 36 years old. Jürgen & Thomas/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Assassin targets Pope: Pope John Paul II collapses into the arms of his aides on May 13, 1981, after an assassination attempt by Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca in St. Peter's Square. Struck by two bullets that hit his abdomen, right arm and left hand, the Pope was seriously wounded and underwent more than five hours of surgery to save his life. Agca went on to serve 19 years in an Italian prison. The Pope pardoned Agca in 1983 and worked for his eventual release. Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
No power for the people: A fire caused by an explosion in a generator cut power to New York City's commercial and financial centers, including the New York and American Stock Exchanges, on September 9, 1981. With subways out of commission, New Yorkers trekked home from work across the Brooklyn Bridge. The blackout lasted for about four and half hours. Richard Kalvar/MAGNUM PHOTOS
'60s songbirds reunite: About 500,000 fans showed up to watch Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel perform in New York's Central Park on September 21, 1981. It was the largest crowd to ever attend a free concert there. The duo, known for hits such as "Mrs. Robinson," hadn't performed together for a decade. David Handschuh/AP
A female first: On September 25, 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. She later said on NPR's "Fresh Air": "I felt a special responsibility ... as the first woman. ... It became very important that I perform in a way that wouldn't provide some reason or cause not to have more women in the future." David Hume Kennerly/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Computers get personal: IBM, previously known for manufacturing mainframe computers, debuted its first personal computer, the 5150, in early 1981. Consumers could buy the 5150 at ComputerLand and Sears, with the base model retailing for $1,565 (equivalent to nearly $4,000 today). The machine weighed about 25 pounds, which was considered compact at the time. SSPL/Getty Images
Maze hunger strike: Rioters in Belfast, Northern Ireland, pictured, respond to the deaths of 10 men who were on hunger strike in the country's Maze prison. Bobby Sands started the strike in March 1981 to protest the British government's refusal to treat Irish Republican Army fighters as political prisoners. Several other inmates followed suit, but Sands, 27, was the first to die as a result of his fast. Gilles Peress/Magnum Photos
A peacemaker's assassination: In October 1981, military officers open fire on Egyptian President Anwar Al-Sadat as he watches an annual parade in honor of Egypt's 1973 war with Israel. Al-Sadat, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for a 1979 peace treaty he signed with Israel, was killed in the shooting along with several other dignitaries. MAKARAM GAD ALKAREEM/AFP/Getty Images
Racial tensions ignite: Ku Klux Klan members hand out propaganda at a busy Miami intersection on January 2, 1982, following violent riots sparked by the killing of 20-year-old Nevell Johnson Jr. Johnson, a black man, was shot in the head by white officer Luis Alvarez at a video game arcade in Miami's Overtown neighborhood. Alvarez was later acquitted on manslaughter charges. Pete Wright/AP
Farewell to a funnyman: Actor Bill Murray puts a flower on John Belushi's coffin on March 9, 1982. Belushi, a beloved comedian and former "Saturday Night Live" star, died of a drug overdose at the age of 33. PAUL BENOIT/AP
War in the Falklands: The 10-week Falklands War began in April 1982, when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a longtime UK colony. The UK sent a force to defend the islands, and hundreds of people -- 655 Argentine and 255 British servicemen, as well as three Falkland Islanders -- lost their lives in the fighting that followed. Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Puzzling toy takes hold: Hungarian architecture professor Erno Rubik invented the iconic Rubik's Cube puzzle in the 1970s. Originally called "Magic Cube," the toy was renamed in 1980, and in 1982, the first International Rubik's Cube Championships took place. Ted Thai/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Sabra and Shatila massacre: In this Pulitzer Prize-winning photo taken September 27, 1982, by Associated Press photographer Bill Foley, a woman holds up helmets that she believes were worn by those who killed hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps during the 1982 Israel-Lebanon war. The murders were committed by Lebanese militia members, but an Israeli government inquiry determined Israel was complicit in the massacre. Bill Foley/AP
Another magical kingdom: Epcot Center, Disney's second theme park based in Florida, opened its doors on October 1, 1982, and launched perhaps its most iconic attraction: the giant, spherical Spaceship Earth ride, which explores the history of human communications. Roger Viollet/Getty Images
It's a disc, man: The compact-disc player and the first commercial compact disc -- Billy Joel's "52nd Street" -- debuted on October 1, 1982, offering music listeners an alternative to vinyl records and cassette tapes. CD technology resulted from an unprecedented collaboration between Philips and Sony. But mass adoption of the format didn't occur for several years, in part because of its relatively high cost. SSPL/Getty Images
End of a Russian era: When President Leonid Brezhnev, who led the Soviet Union for 18 years, died on November 10, 1982, it closed a chapter of old-guard Communist Party leadership and made way for a new regime that wanted reform. BORIS YURCHENKO/AP
Margaret's manifesto: On the road to re-election, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher launched the Conservative manifesto in May 1983. Among other things, the manifesto proposed reform of the trade unions' political levy and promised to significantly reduce unemployment. Peter Marlow/Magnum Photos
Space firsts: NASA's STS-7 crew poses in space during a June 1983 mission to deploy communications satellites into orbit. The weeklong mission was notable for a couple of reasons: It was the first to employ a five-member team of astronauts. Space Frontiers/Archive Photos/Getty Images
People's champion dies: Former Philippine senator Benigno Aquino is lifted up by security after he was fatally shot in the head at Manila International Airport on August 21, 1983. He was returning home after three years of self-exile. Aquino spoke out against the authoritarian rule of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and intended to run against him. His assassin, left, was shot by security. AP
Marine barracks bombed in Beirut: On October 23, 1983, 241 U.S. service members were killed in Beirut, Lebanon, by a terrorist driving a truck loaded with explosives. At the time, it was the deadliest attack against U.S. Marines since Iwo Jima in 1945. BILL FOLEY/AP
Cabbage Patch fever: Xavier Roberts created Cabbage Patch Kids, originally called "Little People," while he was an art student in 1977. By the end of 1983, full-on hysteria surrounding the dolls had set in, with parents literally fighting each other in store aisles to obtain them. Elise Amendola/AP
Workout queen in action: Actress Jane Fonda takes part in a exercise class at her Beverly Hills, California, studio in December 1983. Fonda released her first exercise video, "The Jane Fonda Workout," in 1982 and became a fitness phenomenon. Reed Saxon/AP
Picture of hunger: A period of drought beginning in 1981 wiped out harvests and led to famine conditions in Ethiopia starting in 1983. Here, refugees in the Wollo district wait at a government site to receive food. By March 1984, the Ethiopian government estimated that 5 million people were at risk of starvation. Chris Steele-Perkins/MAGNUM
Miners fight for right to work: Lines of policemen stand between two groups involved in a "Right to Work" rally during the 1984 miners strike in the United Kingdom. Mining unions began the yearlong strike -- with more than 187,000 miners participating -- as an attempt to stop the closing of coal pits. It's been called the longest industrial dispute of the 20th century. PA Wire/PA Photos
Carrying the torch: Yugoslavian figure skater Sanda Dubravcic lights the Olympic flame in Sarajevo's Kosevo stadium during the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in 1984. AP
Rivalry reignited: Magic Johnson, right, and Larry Bird go head to head as the Los Angeles Lakers battle the Boston Celtics for the NBA title in June 1984. The seven-game playoff series, won by the Celtics, added fuel to a Johnson-Bird rivalry that went back to their college days. Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Legendary style: Pop star Michael Jackson sports a single white glove during the first show on his Victory Tour on July 7, 1984. The now-iconic glove, described as "the ultimate piece of Michael Jackson memorabilia," is a creation of designer Ted Shell and contains 50 tiny lights. It sold for $190,000 in 2010. CLIFF SCHIAPPA/AP
McDonald's massacre: On July 18, 1984, 41-year-old James Oliver Huberty walked into a McDonald's in San Ysidro, California, and opened fire, killing 21 people and injuring 19 others before he was shot by a police sniper. It was the biggest massacre the United States had seen to date. Here, paramedics attend to a wounded boy outside the restaurant. U-T San Diego/ZUMAPRESS
Political breakthrough: Democrat Geraldine Ferraro became the first female vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket when she ran with Walter Mondale in 1984. During her campaign, she said: "This candidacy is not just a symbol, it's a breakthrough. It's not just a statement, it's a bond between women all over America." Jack Smith/AP
'Afghan Girl': This haunting image of 12-year-old Sharbat Gula -- a Pashtun orphan in a refugee camp on the Afghan-Pakistani border -- appeared on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic. The photo, taken by renowned photographer Steve McCurry, is considered the magazine's most successful cover photo in its distinguished history. Steve McCurry/Magnum Photos
Not your mom's awards show: The first MTV Music Awards, featuring Madonna's wedding gown-clad performance of "Like a Virgin," took place on September 14, 1984. Michael Jackson and Herbie Hancock both took home several awards, and Cyndi Lauper, pictured, won "Best Female Video" for her song "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." David Mcgough/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Last rites for a fallen leader: In October 1984, longtime Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot to death by a pair of Sikh household guards, four months after she had ordered an attack on a Sikh temple in Amritsar. The night before she died, she said at a rally: "I don't mind if my life goes in the service of the nation. If I die today, every drop of my blood will invigorate the nation." GABRIEL DUVAL/AFP/Getty Images
The Bhopal incident: The unknown child pictured here has become the icon of a terrible accident that took place in Bhopal, India, at the Union Carbide pesticide plant on December 2, 1984. Known as the world's worst industrial disaster, the Bhopal incident involved the release of several poisonous gases and led to an estimated 15,000 deaths. Raghu Rai/Magnum Photos
Not your average Joe: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana handles the ball under pressure in his team's Super Bowl win over Miami on January 20, 1985. Montana was named the game's most valuable player after setting several records in that game, including 331 yards passing. Montana and the 49ers won four Super Bowls from 1982-1990. Al Messerschmidt/AP
Music makes a difference: In January 1985, 45 musicians joined forces to record a song to benefit African famine relief. The supergroup, made up of stars such as Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Bob Dylan, recorded "We Are the World," which went on to sell more than 20 million copies. AP
Super-friends: Mr. T and Hulk Hogan -- two tough-guy, pop-culture icons -- joined forces for several projects in the mid-'80s. In March 1985, they teamed up for the debut of WrestleMania and co-hosted an episode of "Saturday Night Live." The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
The Virgin Tour: Pop star Madonna kicks off her first tour, "The Virgin Tour," on April 10, 1985. The tour featured her song "Like a Virgin" -- her first Billboard Hot 100 hit -- and the Beastie Boys were her opening act. Barry Sweet/AP
MOVE bombing: During an armed standoff at the home of black-power group MOVE on May 13, 1985, Philadelphia police dropped a bag of C-4 explosives on the roof of a house. The resulting fire led to the deaths of 11 people, including five children. GEORGE WIDMAN/AP
Terror in the skies: On June 14, 1985, Shiite terrorists hijacked TWA Flight 847, which was carrying 153 passengers from Athens, Greece, to Rome. The hijacking evolved into a 17-day ordeal where passengers were abused and one American was killed. Some hostages were released, and more terrorists boarded as the plane made two round trips between Lebanon and Algeria. All passengers were finally freed on June 30, 1985. Pilot John L. Testraken -- pictured here talking to reporters at gunpoint -- reportedly kept his cool throughout the entire affair and is widely regarded as a hero. NABIL ISMAIL/AFP/Getty Images
Titanic discovery: On September 2, 1985, a team of American and French researchers discovered the wreckage of the Titanic south of Newfoundland, more than 12,000 feet deep in the Atlantic Ocean. One of the most famous shipwrecks of all time, the Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, leading to the deaths of 1,500 people. Adam Jahiel/Corbis/© Adam Jahiel/Corbis
Eruption in the Andes: Rescuers attempt to save 13-year-old Omayra Sanchez, who became trapped by debris after the eruption of Nevado Del Ruiz, a volcano in northern Colombia, on November 13, 1985. The disaster occurred at night, when residents of the nearby town of Armero were sleeping, and about 20,000 people perished as a result. Sanchez eventually died as well after 60 hours stuck in mud and rubble. AFP/Getty Images
Cold War thaw: U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev shake hands as they meet at the Geneva Summit on November 19, 1985. The two-day event marked the first time in eight years that the two countries had met for a summit conference. Although no groundbreaking agreements came out of it, the fact that the two sides met amicably in the midst of Cold War tensions appeared to bode well for the future of international relations. Dirck Halstead/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Space-flight tragedy: The space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after launching in Florida on January 28, 1986. All seven crew members were killed. In a televised speech that evening, President Ronald Reagan said: "The future doesn't belong to the faint-hearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them." After the incident, which was attributed to cold weather combined with a design flaw, scientists made more than 100 changes to the shuttle to make it safer. BRUCE WEAVER/AP
Power to the people: Opposition to dictator Ferdinand Marcos sparked the "people power" movement in the Philippines in early 1986. The movement was all about regular citizens -- not military personnel or political figures -- taking to the streets to protest peacefully. This nonviolent revolution eventually forced Marcos to flee the country on February 25, 1986. Peter Charlesworth/Getty Images
Sure shot: Jack Nicklaus, who many consider to be the greatest golfer of all time, won his sixth Masters title on April 13, 1986. He was 46 years old -- the second-oldest player to ever win a major tournament. PHIL SANDLIN/AP
Chernobyl meltdown: On April 26, 1986, a series of explosions within a nuclear power plant led to a partial meltdown in Ukraine. That accident, which killed 32 people, introduced the world to the town of Chernobyl, a name that's become inextricably linked to the specter of nuclear disaster. Ultimately, 2 million people were affected by the radiation produced by the explosion, which was 400 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb in 1945. SHONE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Lady Liberty: Among historic milestones observed by the United States in the 1980s, few generated as much fanfare as the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty's arrival from France. The statue, a beacon for generations of immigrants since 1886, was meant to commemorate 100 years of Franco-American friendship as well as the centennial of America's independence from England. Ray Stubblebine/AP
'Going postal': On August 20, 1986, an Oklahoma mailman opened fire on his co-workers, killing 14 before turning the gun on himself. The part-time postal worker was facing the possibility he might be fired from his Edmond, Oklahoma, post office. The incident came to be seen as one of the first -- and the deadliest -- in a series of post-office shooting rampages. It lead to the expression "going postal" to describe someone arbitrarily opening fire on a group of people. DAVID LONGSTREATH/AP
'It gets through Buckner!': The Boston Red Sox were up three games to two in the 1986 World Series when the team's first baseman, Bill Buckner, misplayed a ball hit to him, allowing the New York Mets to win Game 6. The Mets went on to win Game 7, making Buckner a scapegoat for the World Series loss. Boston hadn't won a World Series since 1918. Stan Grossfeld/AP
Try again in 76 years: When and where Halley's Comet would be visible from Earth was something people talked about a lot in 1986. That's because the comet is only visible from our planet every 76 years. In October 1986, it swung close enough to Earth to be seen by the naked eye. But just barely. As scientists have noted, some years are better than others. Getty Images/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Iran + Contra?: It was the 1980s equivalent of the Watergate scandal. President Reagan's administration was funneling money to the anti-Communist Contras in Nicaragua by selling arms to Iran in exchange for hostages -- despite a congressional ban on such sales. And when Congress began holding hearings into the matter, a riveted nation came to know Lt. Col. Oliver North, an official with the National Security Council who directed the secret operation. North portrayed his actions as nothing less than patriotic. Terry Ashe/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Baby Jessica: When an 18-month-old baby fell into an abandoned water well in her aunt's backyard in October 1987, millions of Americans spent three days glued to their televisions to see if she had been rescued. After being trapped 22 feet underground for three days, "Baby Jessica" -- as she was known by the end of the week -- was finally rescued on October 16, 1987. Eric Gay/AP
Black Monday: At the time, it seemed almost unimaginable that the Dow Jones Industrial Average could drop 500 points in a single day of trading. And yet that was exactly what happened on October 19, 1987, a day that would become known as Black Monday. The market began falling at the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange, and as panic ensued, the losses accelerated until the closing bell. It was the largest drop since 1914, with the Dow losing 22% of its value. MARIA BASTONE/AFP/Getty Images
Prelude to the Gulf War: For much of the 1980s, Americans knew vaguely that Iraq was locked in a war with Iran. But in 1988, news of chemical attacks by Iraq against a Kurdish minority began to surface. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein ordered the attacks in an effort to squelch a challenge by separatist Kurds. The grisly chemical attacks came after Hussein had deployed thousands of soldiers to the region where most Kurds live in Iraq. These skirmishes would eventually lead to the first Gulf War. IRNA/AFP/Getty Images
That's gotta hurt: It was the thud heard 'round the world. At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, all eyes were on American diver Greg Louganis, who had been one of the stars of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He had wowed viewers with his strength and grace, and as he stepped up to the diving board four years later, nothing less was expected. Instead, he hit his head on the board in the middle of a complicated dive. He would go on to win the event's gold medal, but for a moment, America held its collective breath. Rich Clarkson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Dukakis tank gaffe: Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Dukakis appears in an armored tank during a 1988 campaign visit to a military equipment manufacturer. "When the Republicans saw one of the images of the diminutive Dukakis popping out of an M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank with a helmet on, they almost popped the corks on the champagne," wrote CNN contributor Julian Zelizer. The Bush campaign featured video of the event in a negative TV ad questioning Dukakis' commitment to defense. Michael E. Samojeden/AP
Gulf Stream celebration: Just days after beating Dukakis in the 1988 election, U.S. President-elect George H.W. Bush takes a break to fish in Gulf Stream, Florida. Bush's victory was overwhelming; he got 426 electoral votes, while Dukakis only got 111. KATHY WILLENS/AP
Lockerbie disaster: While en route from London to New York, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988. An investigation later found that the cause was a bomb planted in a suitcase by Libyan terrorists. All 259 people on board the plane were killed, as were an additional 11 people on the ground. Tom Stoddart Archive/Reportage Archive/Getty Images
Oil and water: On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in Alaska's Prince William Sound, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into the surrounding Arctic waters. The oil slick spread as far as 500 miles from the crash site and affected 1,300 miles of shoreline. Prince William Sound, called "one of the last, best places on Earth" is still feeling the effects of what's now considered America's second-worst oil spill. CHRIS WILKINS/AFP/Getty Images
Game on: Nintendo's Game Boy launched in Japan on April 21, 1989, and it instantly revolutionized the gaming world by allowing users to play anywhere -- as long as they had a pair of AA batteries. It popularized games, such as Tetris, that were once relegated to the PC world. Priced at $89.99, the device soon sold out of its initial run of 300,000. It went on to sell more than 118 million units. SSPL/Getty Images
Tiananmen massacre: In this iconic photo from Beijing's Tiananmen Square, an unidentified man stands alone on Cangan Boulevard, blocking the advance of military tanks on June 5, 1989. Anywhere from hundreds to thousands of people died the day before when Chinese troops fired on civilians who were participating in peaceful anti-government protests in the square. The demonstrations, initiated by students seeking democratic reform and an end to government corruption, also led to thousands of arrests and several dozen executions. Tiananmen, ironically, means "Gate of Heavenly Peace." Jeff Widener/AP
Close to home: In the late 1980s, when little was known about AIDS and the mere mention of the virus incited fear, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Steve Sternberg and photojournalist Michael A. Schwarz got a rare opportunity to spend time with Tom Fox, a man living with AIDS. Their work was published in 1989 as part of a 16-page special section entitled "When AIDS comes home." This photo, taken July 11, 1989, shows Fox surrounded by family in the last moments of his life. Tom Fox
Deadly tremors: Game 3 of the World Series between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants was just about to begin on October 17, 1989, when a 6.9-magnitude earthquake hit San Francisco. Loma Prieta, as it was called, was the worst earthquake the nation had seen since the one that hit the Bay Area in 1906. The 1989 quake led to 67 deaths and caused $10 billion in damage. Here, rescuers carry survivor Erick Carlson. Michael Macor/The Oakland Tribune/AP Photo
A new urban disease: As the 1980s came to a close, evidence of a crack-cocaine epidemic began to surface in America's urban areas. In 1989, The New York Times reported that "crack had more than tripled the number of cocaine users in the city since 1986" and contributed to a significant increase in the local homicide rate. Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos
Heart of a saint: After suffering a major heart attack, Catholic nun Mother Teresa underwent surgery to have a pacemaker implanted in December 1989. Another heart attack eventually claimed her life on September 5, 1997. A champion of the poor who worked tirelessly to help the disenfranchised in Kolkata, India, for nearly 50 years, Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and will be canonized as a saint in September 2016. RAGHU RAI/MAGNUM PHOTOS
A communist defeat: Eastern Europe saw several uprisings against communism in 1989. Here, Romanian citizens stage an anti-government protest in Bucharest's Republican Square on December 21, 1989 -- just one day before the country's communist leader of 24 years, Nicolae Ceausescu, was overthrown in a violent revolution. Ceausescu's execution, which took place three days later, was televised in Romania. AFP/Getty Images
Walls come down: On December 22, 1989, Berlin's Brandenburg Gate reopened, symbolically ending the nearly 30-year division of East and West Germany. After army engineers created a tunnel through one of the crossing points in the gate, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl walked through and shook the hand of East German Prime Minister Hans Modrow. As the crowds celebrated and crossed over into either side of the city, Modrow made a speech and said of Brandenburg, "It must be a gate of peace." Jacques Langevin/Corbis/Sygma/Corbis