- US planes shoot down two Libyan fighters over international waters in Mediterranean (Jan. 4).
- Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini declares author Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses offensive and sentences him to death (Feb. 14).
- Tens of thousands of Chinese students take over Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in rally for democracy (April 19 et seq.). More than one million in Beijing demonstrate for democracy; chaos spreads across nation (mid-May et seq.). Thousands killed in Tiananmen Square as Chinese leaders take hard line toward demonstrators (June 4 et seq.).
- Mikhail S. Gorbachev named Soviet President (May 25).
- P. W. Botha quits as South Africa’s President (Aug. 14).
- Deng Xiaoping resigns from China’s leadership (Nov. 9).
- After 28 years, Berlin Wall is open to West (Nov. 11).
- Czech Parliament ends Communists’ dominant role (Nov. 30).
- Romanian uprising overthrows Communist government (Dec. 15 et seq.); President Ceausescu and wife executed (Dec. 25).
- US troops invade Panama, seeking capture of General Manuel Noriega (Dec. 20).
- George Herbert Walker Bush inaugurated as 41st US President (Jan. 20).
- Ruptured tanker Exxon Valdez sends 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound (March 24).
- US jury convicts Oliver North in Iran-Contra affair (May 4).
- Army Gen. Colin R. Powell is first black Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff (Aug. 9).
US GDP (1998 dollars): $5,438.70 billion
Federal spending: $1143.17 billion
Federal debt: $2868.0 billion
Median Household Income
(current dollars): $28,906
Consumer Price Index: 124
Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.25
San Francisco d. Cincinnati (20-16)
Oakland A’s d. SF Giants (4-0)
Detroit Pistons d. LA Lakers (4-0)
Calgary d. Montreal (4-2)
Women: Steffi Graf d. M. Navratilova (6-2 6-7 6-1)
Men: Boris Becker d. S. Edberg (6-0 7-6 6-4)
Kentucky Derby Champion
NCAA Basketball Championship
Michigan d. Seton Hall (80-79 OT)
NCAA Football Champions
- Salman Rushdie’s novel Satanic Verses is published and sparks immediate controversy. Islamic militants put a price on his head.
- America’s beloved comedienne Lucille Ball dies at age 87.
- Visionary Jaron Lanier coins the term virtual reality and produces the equipment to experience it.
- Glory, Born on the Fourth of July, My Left Foot, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Field of Dreams
- Oscar Hijuelos, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
- Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
- Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club
- Human gene transfer developed by Steven Rosenberg, R. Michael Blaese, and W. French Anderson (US). Background: genetic engineering
- First World Wide Web server and browser developed by Tim Berners-Lee (England) while working at CERN.
- Peter Deutsch of McGill University who devlops Archie, an archive of FTP sites, the first effort to index the Internet. Another indexing system, WAIS (Wide Area Information Server), is developed by Brewster Kahle of Thinking Machines Corp. Background: Computers and Internet
- Voyager 2 speeds by Neptune after making startling discoveries about the planet and its moons (Aug. 29). Background: US Unstaffed Planetary and Lunar Programs
- Jim Backus
- Lucille Ball
- Samuel Beckett
- Salvador Dali
- Bette Davis
- Dolores Ibarruri Gomez (La Pasionaria)
- Ferdinand Marcos
- Billy Martin
- Laurence Olivier
- Sugar Ray Robinson
- Andrei Sakharov
- R.D. Laing
- Robert Penn Warren
- Nicolae Ceausescu