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1981 Chronokey Chronomedia index
Numbers after entries link to the list of references.


links and notes
  Cultural highlights | Predictions made this year  
January 12  First episode of Dynasty, a 60-minute prime-time series, is broadcast in US on the ABC network.  
January 20  Inauguration speech of President Ronald Reagan is televised with the world’s first live teletext subtitles for the hard-of-hearing.  
January  Tandy TRS-80 microcomputer, now designated Model 1, is discontinued. Since its launch in August 1977 it has sold over 250,000 units.
February  Sony starts marketing a complete digital audio studio system including mastering equipment, audio processor, editor and reverberator.  
April 8  Disc-jockey Larry Norton ends a record-breaking continuous broadcast of 484 hours on radio station WGRQ FM at Buffalo, NY, having started on March 19.  
April  Japanese evaluation of digital audio disc technologies is completed in favour of an optical compact disc (CD) approach.  
May  Report on Direct Broadcasting by Satellite (DBS) is published by UK's Home Office.  
  Norway’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, 'Aldri i livet' sung by Finn Kalviks, scores no points in the Eurovision Song Contest—the second time this has happened.  
June 12  Twentieth Century-Fox is acquired by Marvin Davis and family.  
June  Australian government introduces the so-called 10BA tax concession giving backers of Australian film production a 150 per cent tax allowance on their investment. The number of Australian films produced this year: 15. By the end of the decade, 227 feature films, 78 made-for-TV movies, 70 television mini-series and 521 documentaries are produced using the 10BA write-off.  
July  Italian government bans national terrestrial broadcasting as the number of private television stations burgeons.  
July  Lonhro, a trading company headed by Roland 'Tiny' Rowland, acquires UK's oldest surviving Sunday newspaper, The Observer.  
•  Rupert Murdoch acquires UK 'quality' newspapers The Times and The Sunday Times.  
July 27  British Telecommunications Act receives Royal Assent, establishing British Telecommunications as a public corporation to take over the telecommunications assets of the Post Office.  
August 1 00:01  MTV (Music Television) is launched as a 24-hour pop music channel on US cable networks. The first music video to be shown is, appropriately enough, Buggles' Video Killed the Radio Star.  
August 7  First Bulgarian satellite, Intercosmos Bulgaria 1300, is launched.  
August 12  IBM PCIBM launches a 'personal computer' (PC), Model 5150 [right], incorporating an Intel 8088 microprocessor and using the MS-DOS operating system developed by Microsoft. It has 64k RAM and uses 5¼-inch floppy discs that store 160k of data. It costs $2,880. < 1975
August 15  BBC Overseas Service begins radio transmissions in the Pashto language.  
August 27  UK’s last remaining 'cartoon cinema', at Victoria Station, closes after the 19:45 show of The Hound that Thought He was a Raccoon. It was opened in 1935 by Capitol and Provincial News Theatres—as was one at Waterloo Station—designed by Alistair McDonald of the modern movement in architecture.  
September 1  RKO radio becomes the first network to broadcast two all-night channels, including the talk show America Overnight.  
September 9  Rediffusion Starview pay TV experiment begins in UK towns Reading, Burnley, Hull, Pontypridd and Tunbridge Wells. The subscription rate varies between £7.95 and £11.95 in different towns.  
October 15  Visionhire Cable begins its Showcable pay TV experiment on twisted-pair cable networks in some inner London boroughs, with programming by BBC Enterprises. The connection charge is £25 and the monthly subscription fee £7.75.  
October 29  SelecTV experimental pay TV service begins on coaxial cable networks of British Telecom in Milton Keynes, and Philips Cablevision in Northampton and Tredegar. The connection charge is £28.75 and the monthly subscription rate £9.95. > 1982
October 31  NBC broadcasts the first live drama, Halloween Story, on US radio for 25 years.  
October  UK company Satellite Television begins test transmissions of a direct-to-home satellite service from the UK to Europe. > 1982
October  Telecommunications Act becomes UK law. It creates British Telecommunications as a separate entity, and establishes the British Approvals Board for Telecommunications (BABT) as a subsidiary of the British Electrotechnical Approvals. < 1980
  Board to oversee introduction of equipment from a variety of suppliers as permitted under the Act.  
November 6  Thorn EMI’s Cinematel pay TV experiment begins on the eight-channel Radio Rentals coaxial cable network in Swindon. The monthly subscription is £7.75, plus a £10.00 connection fee.  
November 19  Launch of RCA’s Satcom IIIR satellite (replacement for Satcom III), the first satellite dedicated entirely to relaying cable television programming.  
December 1  UK television licence fee increases by the largest amounts ever: from £12 to £15 for monochrome, £34 to £46 for colour.  
December 16  In the Irish Repubic the Cinematograph Act 1909, a legacy from British rule, is repealed by the Fire Service Act.  
•  Pioneer forms separate Laser Disc production company in Japan, Pioneer LDC.  
•  For John Waters' film Polyester the audience receives scratch'n'sniff cards with numbered patches, for which numbers appear in the corner of the screen. The film is billed as 'Filmed in Odorama'. < 1960
•  Radio Monte Carlo launches to new FM channels, RMC Classique and RMC Rock to serve Monaco and the south-east of France.  
•  Sony demonstrates the Mavica (MAgnetic VIdeo CAmera), which records on a two-inch-square 'video floppy' disc.  
•  UK government appoints a Minister for Information Technology and sets up the Information Technology Advisory Panel (ITAP) to advise, among other things, on prospects for cable television.  
•  Cable & Wireless is one of the first state-owned companies to be privatised by the UK Conservative government.  
•  Toni Basil's album Word of Mouth, including the future hit Mickey, may be the first released simultaneously in video and audio-only versions.  
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Page updated 27 November 2010
© David Fisher