Can You Name All of These Events That Happened While Reagan Was President?



By: Lauren Lubas

6 Min Quiz

Image: Wikicommons by Unknown

About This Quiz

From 1981 to 1989, the world, the economy and social norms changed dramatically. Sexuality was making its way to television shows. Tough topics were brought up in news interviews. This was the Reagan Era. The Reagan Era gave us some pretty great moments in entertainment, synergy and music, but it also gave us some pretty shocking events that we won't soon forget. People around the world watched on live television as moments from a presidential assassination attempt to the tearing down of the Berlin wall unraveled before their eyes. If you were one of them, you probably still remember where you were standing when Ronald Reagan delivered his speech that demanded: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" 

There were so many impactful events in the 1980s that stunned the world, and if you can remember even half of them, you might just have a fighting chance at passing this quiz.

Whether you're a history buff or you grew up in the 1980s, you most likely remember quite a few moments that changed the world and even some smaller moments that impacted countries large and small. Do you think you can name them all? Scroll down to see just how ingrained the events of the Reagan Era are in your mind.

In July of 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor was nominated for something. What was it?

The first woman to be a judge on the U.S. supreme court was Sandra Day O'Connor of Arizona. Though she was a conservative, she worked diligently to uphold the constitutional rights of women to have safe and legal abortions.


The first cases of which deadly disease were found in children in 1983?

The AIDS epidemic was a very real thing. Doctors first started recording questionable diseases that might be linked together as early as 1981, but finding it in children in 1983 helped doctors understand the disease that much better: it was passed through the bloodstream.


In June of 1982, what was the final verdict in the trial of John Hinkley Jr. for attempting to assassinate the president?

Although many people believe that John Hinkley Jr. deserved a much more severe punishment, his obsession with Jodie Foster was so intense that he honestly didn't understand that he was doing anything wrong by shooting the president and three other people.


Early in the Reagan presidency, something very traumatic and dramatic happened to the president. What was it?

President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinkley Jr. in March of 1981. Hinkley shot the president and three others in order to get actress Jodie Foster's attention. Reagan's wounds were severe, but he was released from the hospital three weeks after the shooting.


Dr. Barney B. Clark implanted what into a human for the first time at University of Utah Medical Center in 1982?

First imagined by Paul Winchell and designed by Willem Johan Kolff and Robert Jarvik, the Jarvik-7 was the first artificial heart to be implanted into a human being. Though not common, newer technologies allow for artificial hearts to be implanted temporarily while patients wait for transplantation.


What happened to comedian and actor John Belushi in 1982?

The "live fast, die young" mentality that Belushi projected was more of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The young comedian died at the age of 33, alone in a hotel room. Though friends weren't necessarily shocked by what happened, they were heartbroken.


Do you know which country the United States invaded on October 25, 1983?

Operation Urgent Fury lasted from October 25, 1983, to December 15, 1983. The invasion of the island nation was meant to protect United States citizens living on the island who had been threatened by the standing regime.


Over 125 million people sat in front of their television sets to watch the finale of which show?

One of the most interesting fun facts in modern history is that over a million toilets in New York City flushed within five minutes of the finale's conclusion. This was, of course, before DVR technology, so it was important to hold it if you wanted to really see the end of a show.


In 1983, the FCC allowed Motorola to do what?

The first cellular phone service tests by Motorola were conducted in Chicago in 1983. This was the first step to the world that you see today. Though the phones were heavier than most laptops these days, they worked.


During the 1984 Summer Olympic games, which country openly boycotted the United States?

In 1980, the United States boycotted the Summer Olympics in Moscow, because of the 1979 Afghanistan invasion. In retaliation, Russia boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics, because of security concerns and strong anti-Soviet feelings pulsing through the U.S.


Which concert was the first worldwide event to take place on live television?

In efforts to alleviate Ethiopian famine, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure brought bands together from around the world to create the ultimate charity concert. The world's top stars performed in front of live audiences as well as live television cameras.


After 99 years, the Coca-Cola company decided it wanted to make a change. What did they call the formula that everyone hated?

All great companies like to rebrand, renew and simply change their ways every once in a while. No company regretted this more than Coca-Cola in 1985. New Coke was the furthest thing from a hit, and the soda company had to return to its previous recipe, rebranding it Coca-Cola Classic.


In 1986, one of the biggest nuclear disasters to ever occur happened. Do you know what it's referred to?

Even if you don't know how to spell Chernobyl, you could probably tell people what it was. If you watched the hit series on HBO, you probably know more about than anyone who was living in 1986. Unfortunately, the fires from this disaster are still burning.


Which television network became the "fourth network" in 1986?

When FOX first released content, they did so on a limited schedule, lasting only 10 hours per day. However, with hit shows that pushed the envelop, more and more viewers came to see the shocking comedies and gritty dramas.


This one is pretty tough. Do you know which reference collection was the first one to be made available on CD-ROM in the '80s?

While the home-tech craze was in its early years, it wasn't common to see books and reference works digitized. Putting "The Academic American Encyclopedia" on CD-ROM meant that larger schools and universities were able to add to their reference sections at lower costs, with less shelf space.


As video-game consoles were introduced to the public, people looked for better and better graphics. Which game console offered 8-bit graphics?

These days, we measure the quality of video game graphics by how many frames per second (fps) they deliver. However, in 1986, graphics were a little simpler, using pixels. The Nintendo Entertainment System was released in the U.S. in 1986, delivering better graphics than Atari and showing Americans what 8-bit felt like.


There were several medical discoveries during the Reagan era, including the first genetically-engineered vaccine. Do you know what it was a vaccine for?

Though there was already a vaccination for hepatitis B, in 1986, genetic engineering of vaccines was much less common. Having the first FDA approved genetically-engineered vaccine paved the way for medical scientists and researchers to work on other diseases.


Can you name the celestial event that everyone was talking about in April of 1986?

Every 75 years or so, a gorgeous celestial object is shown in our skies. It's known as Halley's Comet. What makes it so unique is the fact that it is one of the rare comets that come close enough to our planet to be seen by the naked eye.


Which German Gestapo officer was under the United States' protection until 1983 and tried for war crimes in 1987?

It might be a little jarring to believe that the American government was protecting a man whose nickname was "The Butcher of Lyon," but we did apologize. After his trial, Klaus was sentenced to life in prison and died in 1991.


Do you know which United States ship was hit by Iraqi missiles in 1987?

President Sadam Hussein of Iraq did send his apologies for the deaths of 47 sailors. However, the United States didn't take this lightly and worked toward retaliation immediately.


What do most people call the stock market crash of 1987?

1986 and '87 were amazing years for the stock market. They showed promise to an American economy that set up the entire decade of the 1990s. However, what goes up must come down, but no one expected it to crash as hard as it did. On October 19th, 1987, the Dow plummeted 22.6%. It is still considered the largest one-day loss in history.


Making strides in communication technology, what project was completed in December of 1988?

There was already a transatlantic phone line and telegraph line. However, creating a fiber optic cable system allowed for 40,000 overseas phone calls to happen simultaneously, opening communication with other countries.


What climate event caused $60 billion in crop damage during the Reagan era?

A frightening drought swept the United States in 1988, causing chaos in our fields. The drought lasted three years in total and resulted in farmers losing more than just their land. It is still considered one of the worst droughts the U.S. ever faced.


What revolution happened in Soviet-occupied Estonia on September 11, 1988?

On September 11, 1988, some 300,000 protesters gathered and began singing. The Singing Revolution lasted until 1991 and resulted in several demonstrations of spontaneous singing across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.


In 1988, Tim Berners-Lee reveals his plan for what would become a global phenomenon. What was it?

Unfortunately, Al Gore is still not the inventor of the Internet. The original idea came from Tim Berners-Lee in 1988, and in 1989, Berners-Lee worked brought that idea to life with the World Wide Web.


Which highly viewed and publicized NASA tragedy occurred during the Reagan era?

The majority of people who were around in 1986 can tell you exactly where they were when the Challenger tragedy occurred. It was a televised event, and everyone was interested because it was a mission that sent civilians into space.


In entertainment news, the retirement of Andre the Giant was defeated when what happened?

In 1987, wrestling history was made. Not only did we get to see the two most popular wrestlers go head to head, we got so see the unbeatable Andre the Giant get body slammed by Hulk Hogan.


What strides did America make in 1981 when it came to reproductive science?

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) was long considered an impossible science. However, in December of 1981, the first "test-tube baby" was born in Norfolk, Virginia. Since then, IVF has been one of the leading procedures to fight infertility.


What was the best-selling personal computer in 1982?

The personal or home computer was one of the most important consumer items to come out of the 1980s, and the Commodore 64 was the most popular of these. It was easy to use and build-out, and anyone could use it.


Construction on which two-acre memorial began in 1982?

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of the most important memorials of our generation. What makes it so important is the fact that Vietnam was never considered a war, it was only a conflict. However, the amount that America lost in those years proved that our nation's men and women deserved more, and they received that with the Veterans Memorial.


In January of 1986, Americans first observed the federal holiday dedicated to a civil rights leader. Do you know what that holiday is?

Ronald Reagan signed the bill to create the federal holiday in 1983. It was first observed nationally and on calendars in 1986. The holiday is always to fall on the third Monday of every January in honor of the civil rights leader.


In 1983, which program was created to teach children that drugs are bad?

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program was designed to teach children about the dangers of drugs and how they affect users and families alike. The success rate of the program is often debated, but the program itself defines the anti-drug movement of the '80s.


American singer, Marvin Gaye, died in 1984. How?

In a tragic event in 1984, Marvin Gaye's father shot him dead the day before he turned 45 years old. The events leading up to the night of April 1, 1984, show trouble between Marvin Gay Sr and Marvin Gaye (the "e" was added for his stage name) Jr.


Can you name the charity single record that was created by multiple stars from around the world to help Africa?

"We Are The World" brought the world's biggest celebrities and musical talents together to create the ultimate song. The song was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and sold over 20 million copies.


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