17 Unforgettable Things That Happened in 1985

1985 was an eventful year, with Ronald Reagan sworn in for a second term, the debut of Australia’s soap opera Neighbours, and several plane crashes. Here are 17 of the most unforgettable things that happened in 1985.

Live Aid Concerts

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Live Aid, billed as the “global jukebox,” was held simultaneously at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia and London’s Wembley Stadium on July 13, 1985. Bob Geldof and Midge Ure organized the event to raise funds for famine relief during the 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia. Around 72,000 people attended the event in London, and 89,484 attended in Philadelphia. On the same day, several other concerts inspired by Live Aid were held in other countries, including Austria, Australia, Canada, Japan, and the Soviet Union.

The Inauguration of Mikhail Gorbachev

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Mikhail Gorbachev, the USSR’s last leader, became its leader on March 11, 1985. Gorbachev introduced policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) to reform the Communist Party and the Soviet Union, which Britannica argues “ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990–91.”

The Founding of Studio Ghibli

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This anime studio was founded on June 15, 1985, after the success of 1984’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and headed by directors Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki. Studio Ghibli quickly became known for its detailed animation and rich storytelling, producing critically acclaimed films including My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away.

The Signing of the Plaza Accord

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The Plaza Accord, a joint agreement between France, West Germany, Japan, the U.S., and the U.K., was signed on September 22, 1985, at the Plaza Hotel in New York. It aimed to depreciate the American dollar in relation to the currencies of the four other nations by intervening in currency markets, leading to significant changes in global financial markets.

The Debut of Back to the Future

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Back to the Future was released in theaters on July 3, 1985, and quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Canadian-American actor Michael J. Fox as the protagonist Marty McFly alongside Christopher Lloyd as Emmett “Doc” Brown, the film spawned a franchise including two sequels and an animated series. In 2007, it was preserved in the National Film Registry and remains hugely popular.

The Eruption of Nevado del Ruiz

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On November 13, 1985, this stratovolcano in Colombia erupted in what was dubbed the Amero tragedy. Despite warnings from volcanological organizations that the volcano, which had been dormant for 69 years, could erupt, the government failed to evacuate the area, and nearby towns were caught unprepared. PreventionWeb notes the tragedy, which killed 23,000 people and destroyed the town of Armero, is “considered Colombia’s worst natural hazard-induced disaster which produced the deadliest lahar ever recorded.”

Coca-Cola Introduces New Coke

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On April 23, 1985, Coca-Cola announced the introduction of “New Coke” with a new formula after years of losing market share to diet soft drinks. The company used blind taste test results that suggested consumers preferred the sweeter taste of Pepsi, but Americans weren’t impressed with the reformulation. The company reintroduced “Coca-Cola Classic” after three months, and New Coke was discontinued in 2002.

Ethiopia Famine Awareness

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Ethiopia’s famine reached critical levels in 1985 after beginning two years earlier, with hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced. The famine prompted international aid efforts, including the Live Aid concerts and the charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

The First .com Domain Is Registered

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Symbolics, Inc., an American computer manufacturer, registered the first .com domain on the Internet, “Symbolics.com,” on March 15, 1985. The domain marked the beginning of the commercial Internet, and today, it is an online museum of the Internet.

The Release of “Super Mario Bros.”

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Nintendo released “Super Mario Bros.” for the Famicom in Japan and the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America in September and October 1985, respectively. The game was a massive hit for the company, introducing famous characters like Mario, Luigi, and Bowser to millions worldwide.

The Hijacking of TWA Flight 847

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On June 14, 1985, Trans World Airlines Flight 847 was hijacked by alleged Hezbollah militants shortly after take-off from Athens. The hijackers demanded 700 Shia Muslims to be released from Israeli custody and took the plane from Beirut to Algiers several times. The ordeal lasted almost three weeks and resulted in the murder of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem.

The Discovery of the Titanic Wreckage

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The wreck of the Titanic was discovered 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, 12,500 feet below the ocean surface, on September 1, 1985, by a joint American-French expedition led by Robert Ballard and Jean-Louis Michel. CBS News noted that “For more than 70 years, the location of the liner’s wreckage—about 12,600 feet below the ocean’s surface—had been a mystery.”

Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior Sunk

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The Rainbow Warrior, a vessel owned by the environmental group Greenpeace, was sunk by French intelligence agents in Auckland, New Zealand, on July 10, 1985, in an act of state terrorism that killed one person and caused major embarrassment for the French government. The attack was in response to Greenpeace’s opposition to France’s nuclear testing in the Pacific and led to French Defense Minister Charles Hernu resigning.

The First Mobile Phone Call in the UK

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The first ever mobile phone call in the U.K. was made by Michael Harrison, the son of Vodafone’s then chairman, Sir Ernest Harrison, just after midnight on January 1, 1985. The call marked the beginning of the mobile telecommunications era in the U.K., and today, mobile phones are a critical part of global communication networks.

The Release of Windows 1.0

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Microsoft released Windows 1.0 on November 20, 1985, marking the beginning of the Windows line of operating systems that are widely used today. CNET argues, “Unfortunately for Microsoft, it failed to inspire — especially compared with the more user-friendly graphical user interface developed by Apple for the Macintosh.”

Rock Hudson’s Announcement

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On July 25, 1985, Rock Hudson, a Hollywood leading man in the 1950s and 1960s, announced he had AIDS, becoming the first major celebrity to do so. His announcement brought widespread attention to the AIDS epidemic, which was misunderstood by the public and scientists at the time.

The Birth of WrestleMania

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Madison Square Garden in New York City held the first WrestleMania on March 31, 1985, with 19,121 attendees. It featured celebrities and athletes, including Muhammad Ali and Cyndi Lauper, alongside professional wrestlers. It was a major success and became an annual event that helped popularize professional wrestling worldwide.

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20 Time-Honored Practices Our Grandparents Followed That We Should Bring Back

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