1980 John Lennon of the Beatles shot dead in New York City. Ted Turner launches CNN, the first all-news network.
1981 MTV goes on the air running around the clock music videos, debuting with “Video Killed the Radio Star.” The Supreme Court rules to allow television cameras in courtrooms.
1982 Michael Jackson releases Thriller, which sells more than 25 million copies, becoming the biggest-selling album in history.
1983 With the introduction of noise-free compact discs, the vinyl record begins a steep decline. More than 125 million viewers tune in to the last episode of M*A*S*H.
1984 Led by Bob Geldof, the band Band Aid releases "Do They Know It's Christmas," with proceeds of the single going to feed the starving in Africa. The Cosby Show debuts on NBC. The sitcom is widely considered the most popular show of the 1980s. The Supreme Court rules that taping television shows at home on VCRs does not violate copyright law.
1985 Madonna launches her first road show, the Virgin Tour. Dozens of top-name musicians and bands perform at the Live Aid concerts in Philadelphia and London. The shows benefit African famine victims.
1986 Barry Diller, head of News Corp., creates Fox, the fourth television network. Fox offers 10 hours of prime-time programming a week. The Television Bureau of Advertising announces that the average American household watches television for more than seven hours a day. The Oprah Winfrey Show hits national television.
1987 Though African, Latin American,and other genres of international music have been around for centuries, a group of small, London-based labels coin the term “world music,” which helps record sellers find rack space for the eclectic music. thirtysomething debuts on ABC and departs from typical dramas, featuring analytical, self-absorbed baby-boomer characters.
1988 CDs outsell vinyl records for the first time. Ninety-eight percent of U.S. households have at least one television set. Ted Turner starts Turner Network Television (TNT) and buys MGM's film library.
1989 America's beloved comedienne Lucille Ball dies at age 78.
1990 Euro dance band Milli Vanilli admits to lip-syncing hits such as "Girl You Know Its True," and has its Grammy award revoked. Ninety-nine percent of U.S. households have at least one radio, with the average owning five. The Simpsons debuts on Fox and becomes an instant hit. Seinfeld debuts on NBC.
1991 Seattle band Nirvana releases the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on the LP Nevermind and enjoys national success. With Nirvana's hit comes the grunge movement, which is characterized by distorted guitars, dispirited vocals,and lots of flannel. Fox Broadcasting is the first network to permit condom advertising on television.
1992 Compact discs surpass cassette tapes as the preferred medium for recorded music. There are 900 million television sets in use around the world; 201 million are in the United States. Johnny Carson hosts The Tonight Show for the last time. He had ruled late-night television for 20 years.
1992 Radio & Records All-Time Charts AC - “The One” Elton John (MCA) CHR/Pop - “End of the Road” Boyz II Men (Motown) AOR Tracks - “Come As You Are” Nirvana (DGC) AOR Albums - Achtung Baby U2 (Island/PLG) Alternative - Achtung Baby U2 (Island/PLG) Urban - “Somebody Loves You Baby” Patti LaBelle (MCA) Country - “Norma Jean Riley” Diamond Rio (Arista)