Watergate, the ongoing tensions of the Cold War, and the start of the Iranian hostage crisis are just three events in this decade that will never be forgotten. Among all those life-changing events, other, less memorable moments might have slipped our collective memories. Having grown up in the 70s, I was keen to explore 12 things that happened in this decade that we’ve forgotten.
1. 1970: The Most Recent First Lady
To date, only one First Lady of the United States has been born as recently as 1970. If the trend for older presidents continues, it may be some years before we see anyone younger than Melania Trump take this role. Born Melanija Knavs in the former Yugoslavia on April 26, 1970, she married Donald Trump in 2005.
2. 1971: Disney World Opens
It’s been a part of our lives for so long now that many will be surprised to discover that Walt Disney World was first opened in 1971. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the rest welcomed around 10,000 visitors on the first day of October. 5,500 employees looked after around 107 acres of land in those early years.
3. 1971: The Unlikeliest Fight
The 70s was arguably the best era for boxing. Who can forget Ali vs. Foreman, Holmes vs. Norton, or Ali vs. Frazier? But what about Norman Mailer vs. Gore Vidal? These two literary giants clashed on an episode of the Cavett show in 1971, and their differences escalated when Mailer headbutted Vidal backstage.
4. 1972: A Breakthrough for Video Gaming
The granddaddy of all video games was released in 1972. To say that Pong is primitive by today’s standards is the understatement of all time, but it was a significant breakthrough for the industry. A rudimentary game of tennis, Pong was produced by Atari, and it hit the gaming arcades in November of this year.
5. 1973: Reality TV Debuts
In the modern era, reality TV is seen as a brilliant innovation or a curse, depending on your point of view. Shows such as Big Brother are considered a new phenomenon, but their roots lie in the heart of the 1970s. An American Family premiered in January of 1973 and millions of people tuned in to watch the everyday lives of the Louds from California.
6. 1973: A Musical Legacy Is Born
When Hilly Kristal opened his CBGB bar in 1973, he could have never imagined what was to follow. CBGBs offered a platform for the growing new wave style of music, giving the Ramones, Blondie, and Television a place to play. Aging, old-school punks like myself owe Kristal and CBGBs a considerable debt.
7. 1974: A Bar Code Battle
Shopping became more streamlined in 1974 with the arrival of the Universal Product Code. In June of this year, the first item to be scanned was a pack of Wrigley’s Chewing Gum, and checkout operators were no longer getting stuck as their productivity increased.
8. 1974: Crossing the Line
The arrival of the Twin Towers in New York a year earlier proved too much of a temptation for French tightrope walker Philippe Petit. He crossed the towers on August 7 and was acknowledged for his efforts by being arrested by the NYPD. If you have the stomach for heights, I recommend watching the Man on Wire documentary of Petit’s feat.
9. 1975: The Arrival of Betamax
Home video recording was a rarity in the early 1970s, but that began to change in 1975 when Sony launched its Betamax product. As we now know, VHS came along two years later, and it consigned its rival to the dustbin of history, even though many still believe that Betamax provided the better home viewing experience.
10. 1977: Apple II Launches
Don’t let the name fool you, the Apple II was actually the first home computer in the company’s range. It’s hard to imagine it now, but technology in the 1970s was sparse, and a family’s proudest moment usually involved installing a TV so large that it occupied 50% of a single room. Nobody had a home PC, but the Apple II helped to bring computing to the masses.
11. 1978: Jaws Lost Its Bite
The original Jaws movie was so iconic that we’re still quoting lines from the film nearly 50 years later. Film lovers may have forgotten that a sequel was released in 1978, and there are good reasons why this has slipped your memory. Jaws 2 was a flop and was damned with faint praise by the Rotten Tomatoes website, which described it as “reasonably entertaining for a sequel that has no reason to exist.”
12. 1979: The Demolition That Led to a Riot
I’m no great fan of disco music, but I’ve never felt the need to hit the streets and protest against it. In 1979, the Chicago White Sox experienced one of the most infamous days in its history, and it had nothing to do with baseball. In an attempt to boost falling attendance, White Sox owners held Disco Demolition Night, an evening which culminated in shock jock Steve Dahl blowing up a collection of vinyl. After the detonation, the pitch was invaded, and a full-scale riot occurred.