Top 10 Events of 1990

Script written by Aaron Cameron And now we're going to play a wonderful game called 'who is my daddy and what does he do?'.. or not. Join http://www.watchmojo/com as we count down our picks for the top 10 events of 1990. For this series we will be looking at events from each half decade from pop-culture, natural disasters, medical breakthroughs, sports, and political happenings based on their significance at the time and their lasting impact today.

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Top 10 Events of 1990

It was a year of unification, division and a whole lotta nothing. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 events of 1990.

For this list, we will be looking at events from each half-decade from pop-culture, natural disasters, medical breakthroughs, sports, and political happenings based on their significance at the time and their lasting impact today. This is a part of a series of videos spanning the decades.

#10: The Debut of Seinfeld
May 30, 1990

Yes, there was actually a pilot made in 1989 but - yada, yada, yada - “Seinfeld” officially became a series in May of 1990. Eventually spawning 180 episodes across nine seasons, the original show about nothing’s first season was a scant five episodes, and that includes the dusty and mostly unloved pilot from the year prior. Despite a terrible title – “The Seinfeld Chronicles” - no Elaine, and Kramer being named “Kessler”, brass at NBC believed the show had potential and even canceled a Bob Hope special to fund “Seinfeld”’s minuscule first season. However, things were much smoother for NBC’s other new comedy “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” which debuted in September of that same year.

#9: The Premiere of GoodFellas
September 19, 1990

Starring Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, and Joe Pesci, and directed by Martin Scorsese, “GoodFellas” racked up $46.8m at the box office and lots of f-words - and we’re not talking “funny”. Over 300 f-bombs - that’s about 2 f*cks per minute - were dropped during the almost 2 and half-hour film, with Pesci pulling the lever on half. Although the script went through 12 drafts, much of the final product was improvised, including the infamous “Funny how? Do I amuse you?” scene and helped earn Pesci his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Alternative casting meanwhile could have included Tom Cruise as Henry Hill, Madonna as Karen Hill, and John Malkovich as Jimmy Conway...

#8: The Manjil-Rudbar Earthquake
June 21, 1990

Just after midnight local time, an earthquake measuring 7.4 in magnitude rocked northern Iran between the towns of Rudbar and Manjil on June 21st, 1990. The quake was the largest recorded in the Caspian Sea region to that point and ultimately left more than 50,000 dead, 60,000 injured, and 400,000 homeless. It was also felt as far away as Azerbaijan. Nearly 700 villages were destroyed while 100,000 buildings fell. Many of these buildings were poorly welded, made of adobe, or otherwise not up to modern code, so damages totaled an estimated $8 billion. The disaster triggered worldwide relief efforts, although Iran flatly refused aid from the nations of Israel and South Africa.

#7: The Chunnel is Officially Connected
December 1, 1990

Although both halves of the Channel Tunnel, or le tunnel sous la Manche, were unofficially connected by a two-inch hole on October 30th, it was not until December 1st, 1990 that the “Chunnel” was officially connected and the incident was captured by the media. French engineer Phillippe Cozette and English engineer Graham Fagg formally linked the 23.5 mile underwater tunnel by bursting through their respective sides to share their first hello et bonjour. Work proved to be more difficult on the French side, where the clay-like chalk marl was harder and more brittle, and it continued until 1994 when the tunnel – which had begun construction in 1988 - was finally opened.

#6: The World Health Organization Removes Homosexuality as a Mental Disorder
May 17, 1990

Gay rights, or at least respect for the LGBT community, gained ground when the World Health Organization unclassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1990. LGBT-related conditions, such as gender dysphoria, did remain on the books, however, and although it came decades after similar decisions by the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, the WHO’s move was none the less important. Now accepted as just a “natural variation of human sexual orientation,” it meant that homosexuality was not treatable as a disease or disorder and could not be “cured”. It’s just a thing. Get used to it.

#5: The Hubble Space Telescope is Launched
April 24, 1990

Launched on April 24th, 1990 and deployed into orbit on the 25th, Hubble received its first bit of funding - a puny $36 million - from U.S. Congress in 1978. Budgeted at $400 million, the project eventually skyrocketed to a cost of $2.5 billion. Despite the costs, the telescope’s operating software was barely finished for the launch, while a 1.3mm curvature error in the lens of the main null corrector made Hubble’s imaging out of focus - and effectively, useless. This was corrected, however, during the unit’s first servicing in 1993 with the installation of the COSTAR system, which, more or less, gave Hubble glasses. Meanwhile, things were smoother elsewhere in space, as the Voyager 1 space probe sent pictures of the entire solar system back to Earth in February of 1990.

#4: The Beginning of the End of the Soviet Union

While the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 may have set things in motion, 1990 was all but the end of the USSR. On January 1st, Ukrainian was reinstated as the official language of the Ukraine, but bigger changes in the Soviet Union were on the horizon, and not just the country’s first McDonald’s. On March 9th, Georgia declared sovereignty, followed by Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia. Russia itself declared sovereignty on June 11th and later elected Boris Yeltsin president, while Uzbekistan, Moldova, Ukraine, Belorussia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kirgizia all followed suit by the year’s end. On December 31st, 1991 the USSR officially ceased to be.

#3: The Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait
August 2, 1990

At 2 a.m. local time on August 2, 1990, 100,000 Iraqi troops and 700 tanks began the invasion of Kuwait. Protesting what he felt was a market flooded by Kuwaiti oil, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein annexed the nation and threatened to make Kuwait City a “graveyard” if anyone opposed - and oppose they did. The Soviet Union - such as it was - suspended arms supplies to Iraq, while the UN banned trade with the country on August 6th. The invasion, also called the Iraq-Kuwait War, ultimately triggered the Gulf War, codenamed Operation Desert Shield. On November 29th, the UN ordered Iraq to vacate by January 15, 1991 or face war - and since Saddam refused, Operation Desert Storm began shortly thereafter in defense of Saudi Arabia.

#2: The Release of Nelson Mandela
February 11, 1990

After 27 years, Nelson Mandela was unconditionally released from prison. In 1962, he was sentenced to life in prison in the Rivonia Trial after being convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state. After an international campaign, Mandela was the last African National Congress prisoner to be released, following a positive meeting with South African President F.W. de Klerk in December of 1989. On the day of Mandela’s release, thousands lined the 40-mile route from Victor Verster Prison to Cape Town and thousands more gathered as he spoke at City Hall. Mandela’s release marked the beginning of a new era for racially tense South Africa and led to the unbanning of the ANC.

Before we unveil our top pick here are a few honourable mentions.
− John McEnroe becomes the first player ever to be expelled from the Australian Open

− General Noriega of Panama surrenders to the US

− Milli Vanilli busted as lip-syncers

− David Dinkins becomes the first African American mayor of New York City

− Stevie Ray Vaugh's Death

#1: The Reunification of East and West Germany
October 3, 1990

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the imminent reunion of East and West Germany seemed inevitable. Physically and ideologically divided following World War II, the path to unification began on November 28, 1989 when it was proposed by West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. On March 18, 1990, East Germany held its only free elections and voted in favor of reuniting. They made news again on April 12th when the nation apologized to Jews worldwide for the Holocaust. German economies merged on July 1st, while on August 31st - against some international concerns - the German Reunification Treaty was signed and would go into effect on October 3rd.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favourite event from 1990? For more smack-talking Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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