- August 27 - Earl Mountbatten of Burma, 79, British World War II hero, and three others are killed by a blast on a fishing boat off the Irish coast; two I.R.A. members are accused on August 30.
- January 4 - State of Ohio agrees to pay $675,000 to families of dead and injured in Kent State University shootings.
- January 7 - Vietnam and Vietnam-backed Cambodian insurgents announce the fall of Phnom Penh, Cambodian capital, and the collapse of the Pol Pot regime.
- January 16 - Shah leaves Iran after a year of turmoil.
- February 11 - 43 million viewers watch "Elvis!" on ABC.
- February 11 - Ruhollah Khomeini seizes power in Iran.
- March 28 - Conservatives win the British election; Margaret Thatcher becomes the new prime minister.
- March 28 - Nuclear power plant accident at Three Mile Island, Pa., releases radiation
- June 14 - Jimmy Carter and Brezhnev sign the SALT II agreement.
- July 17 - Nicaraguan president General Anastasio Somoza Debayle resigns and flees to Miami; Sandinistas form a new government on July 19.
- November 4 - Iranian militants seize the U.S. embassy in Teheran and take hostages.
- December 27 - Soviet Union invasdes Afghanistan.
- Physics - Sheldon Lee Glashow, Abdus Salam, Steven Weinberg
- Chemistry - Herbert C Brown, Georg Wittig
- Medicine - Allan M Cormack, Godfrey N Hounsfield
- Literature - Odysseus Elytis
- Peace - Mother Theresa
- Economics - Theodore Schultz, Arthur Lewis