January 1 - The Internet's Domain Name System is created.
January 1 - The first British mobile phone call is made by Ernie Wise to Vodafone.
January 13 - A passenger train plunged into a ravine at Ethiopia, killing 428, where accident is the worst railroad disaster in Africa.
January 17 - British Telecom announces the retirement of the United Kingdom's red telephone boxes.
January 21 - Because January 20 had fallen on a Sunday, Ronald Reagan's public inaugural ceremony (for his second term as President) was moved to Monday, January 21. Due to bad weather, the ceremony was held indoors in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol.
January 23 - O.J. Simpson becomes the first Heisman Trophy winner elected to the Football Hall of Fame.
February 19 - Artificial heart recipient William J. Schroeder becomes the first such patient to leave hospital.
February 19 - Iberia Airlines Boeing 727 crashes into Mount Oiz in Spain, killing 148.
February 19 - The first episode of the well-known British soap opera EastEnders is broadcast.
February 28 - The Provisional Irish Republican Army carries out a mortar attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary police station at Newry, killing nine officers in the highest loss of life for the RUC on a single day.
March 3 - Arthur Scargill declares that the National Union of Mineworkers national executive voted to end the longest-running industrial dispute in Great Britain without any peace deal over pit closures.
March 3 - Censorship: Women Against Pornography award their "Pig Award" to Huggies Diapers, claiming that the television ads had "crossed the line between eye-catching and porn."
March 4 - The Food and Drug Administration approves a blood test for AIDS, used since then for screening all blood donations in the United States.
March 8 - A failed assassination attempt on Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah in a car-bombing in Beirut kills 85 people and injures 175.
March 11 - Mikhail Gorbachev becomes the Soviet Union's leader.
March 15 - The first Internet domain name is registered (symbolics.com).
March 16 - Associated Press newsman Terry Anderson is taken hostage in Beirut. He is released on December 4, 1991.
March 17 - Serial killer Richard Ramirez, the "Night Stalker", commits his first two murders in Los Angeles, California murder spree.
March 21 - Canadian paraplegic athlete and humanitarian Rick Hansen begins his circumnavigation of the globe in a wheelchair in the name of spinal cord injury medical research.
April 7 - Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declares a moratorium on the deployment of middle-range missiles in Europe.
April 8 - Bhopal disaster: India files suit against Union Carbide for the disaster which killed an estimated 2,000 and injured another 200,000.
April 13 - Enver Hoxha is succeeded by Ramiz Alia as the leader of Albania.
April 19 - Advance Australia Fair is proclaimed as Australia's national anthem, and green and gold as the national colours.
April 19 - U.S.S.R performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakhstan/Semipalatinsk U.S.S.R.
April 20 - ATF raid on The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord compound in northern Arkansas.
April 23 - Coca-Cola changes its formula and releases New Coke. (The response is overwhelmingly negative, and the original formula is back on the market in less than 3 months.)
May 11 - Fifty-six spectators die when a flash fire strikes a football ground during a match in Bradford, England.
May 13 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, police storm MOVE headquarters to end a stand-off, killing 11 MOVE members and destroying the homes of 250 city residents.
May 20 - Radio Martí, part of the Voice of America service, begins broadcasting to Cuba.
May 25 - Bangladesh is hit by a tropical cyclone and storm surge, which kills approximately 10,000 people.
May 29 - Heysel Stadium disaster: At the European Cup final in Brussels, Belgium, 39 football fans die and hundreds are injured when a dilapidated retaining wall collapses after Liverpool F.C. fans breach a fence separating them from Juventus F.C. fans.
May 29 - Amputee Steve Fonyo completes cross-Canada marathon at Victoria, British Columbia, after 14 months.
May 31 - 1985 United States-Canadian tornado outbreak: Forty-one tornadoes hit Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario, leaving 76 dead.
May 31 - Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) became a Schedule I drug in the United States.
June 1 - Alan García is proclaimed President of Peru.
June 6 - The grave of "Wolfgang Gerhard" is exhumed in Embu, Brazil; the remains found are later proven to be those of Josef Mengele, Auschwitz's "Angel of Death". Mengele is thought to have drowned while swimming in February, 1979.
June 9 - Thomas Sutherland is kidnapped in Lebanon (he is not released until 1991).
June 14 - TWA Flight 847 is hijacked by Hezbollah shortly after take-off from Athens, Greece.
June 15 - Rembrandt's painting Danaë is attacked by a man later judged insane; he threw sulfuric acid on the canvas and cut it twice with his knife.
June 23 - A terrorist bomb aboard Air India flight 182 brings the Boeing 747 down off the coast of Ireland, killing all 329 aboard.
June 24 - STS-51-G Space Shuttle Discovery completed its mission, best remembered for having Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the first Arab and first Muslim in space, as a Payload Specialist.
June 27 - U.S. Route 66 ceases to be an official U.S. highway.
June 30 - Thirty-nine American hostages from a hijacked TWA jetliner are freed in Beirut after being held for 17 days.
July 2 - Andrei Gromyko is appointed the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union.
July 10 - Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior is bombed and sunk in Auckland, New Zealand Harbor by French DGSE agents.
July 13 - The Live Aid benefit concert takes place in London and Philadelphia, as well as other venues such as Sydney and Moscow.
July 13 - United States Vice President George H.W. Bush became the Acting President for the day when President Ronald Reagan underwent surgery to remove polyps from his colon.
July 19 - The Val di Stava Dam collapse killing 268 people in Val di Stava, Italy.
July 20 - The government of Aruba passes legislation to secede from the Netherlands Antilles.
August 2 - Delta Air Lines Flight 191, a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar crashes at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport killing 137.
August 7 - Takao Doi, Mamoru Mohri and Chiaki Mukai are chosen to be Japan's first astronauts.
August 12 - Japan Airlines Flight 123 crashes into Osutaka ridge in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, killing 520, to become the worst single-plane air disaster.
August 23 - Hans Tiedge, top counter-spy of West Germany, defects to East Germany.
August 27 - The Nigerian government is peacefully overthrown by Army Chief of Staff Major General Ibrahim Babangida.
September 1 - A joint American-French expedition locates the wreck of the RMS Titanic.
September 6 - Midwest Express Airlines Flight 105, a Douglas DC-9 crashes just after takeoff from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, killing 31.
September 11 - Baseball: Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds gets his 4,192nd career base hit, breaking Ty Cobb's record which had stood for over 60 years.
September 19 - A strong earthquake kills thousands and destroys about 400 buildings in Mexico City.
September 19 - Tipper Gore and other political wives form the Parents Music Resource Center as Frank Zappa and other musicians testify at U.S. Congressional hearings on obscenity in rock music.
September 22 - The Plaza Accord was signed in New York City.
October 1 - The Israeli air force bombs PLO Headquarters in Tunis.
October 3 - The Space Shuttle Atlantis makes its maiden flight. (Mission STS-51-J)
October 4 - Free Software Foundation is founded in Massachusetts, United States.
October 6 - PC Keith Blakelock is murdered as riots erupt in the Broadwater Farm suburb of London.
October 7 - The "Achille Lauro" is hijacked by Palestine Liberation Organization.
October 10 - United States Navy F-14 fighter jets intercept an Egyptian plane carrying the Achille Lauro cruise ship hijackers and force it to land at a NATO base in Sigonella, Sicily where they are arrested.
October 28 - Sandinista Daniel Ortega becomes president of Nicaragua and makes peace overtures to the United States; American policy continues to support the Contras in their revolt against the Nicaraguan government.
October 29 - Major General Samuel K. Doe is announced the winner of the first multi-party election in Liberia.
October 30 - Space Shuttle Challenger lifts off for mission STS-61-A, its final successful mission.
November 6 - In Colombia, leftist guerrillas of the April 19 Movement seize control of the Palace of Justice in Bogotá, eventually killing 115 people, 11 of them Supreme Court justices.
November 6 - The Iran-Contra Affair: The American press reveals that U.S. President Ronald Reagan had authorized the shipment of arms to Iran.
November 9 - Garry Kasparov 22, of the Soviet Union becomes the youngest World Chess Champion by beating Anatoly Karpov, also of the Soviet Union.
November 13 - The volcano Nevado del Ruiz erupts and melts a glacier, causing a lahar (volcanic mudslide) that buries Armero, Colombia, killing approximately 23,000 people.
November 13 - Xavier Suarez is sworn in as Miami, Florida's first Cuban-born mayor.
November 15 - A research assistant is injured when a package from the Unabomber addressed to a University of Michigan professor explodes.
November 15 - The Anglo-Irish Agreement is signed at Hillsborough Castle by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Irish Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald.
November 18 - The comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, created by Bill Waterson, first appears in 30 newspapers across the U.S.
November 18 - Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann's playing career comes to an end when a sack by the Giants' Lawrence Taylor snaps Theismann's legs, this was seen by a national audience on Monday Night Football.
November 19 - Cold War: In Geneva, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev meet for the first time.
November 19 - Pennzoil wins a $10.53 billion USD verdict against Texaco, in the largest civil verdict in the history of the United States, stemming from Texaco executing a contract to buy Getty Oil after Pennzoil had entered into an unsigned, yet still binding, buyout contract with Getty.
November 21 - United States Navy intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard is arrested for spying (he was caught giving Israel classified information on Arab nations and was eventually sentenced to life in prison).
November 23 - Gunmen hijack EgyptAir Flight 648 while en route from Athens to Cairo. When the plane lands in Malta, Egyptian commandos storm the hijacked jetliner, but 60 people die in the raid.
December 12 - Arrow Air Flight 1285 crashes after takeoff in Gander, Newfoundland killing 256, including 248 members of the United States Army's 101st Airborne Division.
December 16 - Mafia: In New York City, Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti are shot dead on the orders of John Gotti, who assumes leadership of the Gambino family.
December 27 - Palestinian guerrillas kill eighteen people inside Rome and Vienna airports.