The wonderful 70s may have been many things, but boring they certainly weren’t. Let’s just remember the fury of disco music! Of the shock by the death of great artists like Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley to the Watergate scandal, through long dictatorships in Latin America, the rise of global terrorism, and a technological revolution that changed the world, these are some of the most unforgettable moments of the decade.
1. Apollo 13 Returns To Earth
On April 17, 1970, with the entire planet waiting for what was happening, Apollo 13, a NASA lunar spacecraft that suffered a serious breakdown on its trip to the Moon, finally returned to Earth with all its healthy crew members. The mission commander was James A. Lovell Jr., whose spacesuit helmet is housed in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois.
2. Floppy Disks, Betamax, and VHS
In 1971, IBM was already selling floppy disk drives, and in 1972 it received the patent for the floppy disk data storage, which in its early days had little capacity. Also at the beginning of the 70s, we cannot forget the appearance of the “magical” videotape players: Sony’s Betamax made its brand new appearance in 1975 and, a year later, JVC’s VHS emerged.
3. The Napalm Girl that Symbolized the Horror of Vietnam
9-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phúc runs screaming: “Burning! Burning! ”, While fleeing the air attack with napalm gas (a flammable liquid that adheres to the skin) against an area where there were supposedly members of the Viet Cong, on June 8, 1972. The photograph, which portrayed the horrors of the war in Vietnam, was taken by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut. Many say that the worldwide distribution of the iconic image prompted the end of the Vietnam war.
4. Terrorist Attacks at the Olympic Games in Munich
The Munich massacre forever mourned the history of the Olympic Games, after militants of the terrorist group Black September, linked to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), murdered two Israeli athletes in the Olympic village, took hostage nine more, and demanded the release of 234 Palestinians from Israeli jails. When the police tried to free the Israelis at the Fürstenfeldbruck military airport, where they had been transferred in two helicopters, five of the eight terrorists, a German policeman, and all the hostages were killed.
5. Watergate and the Only Resignation of a US President
The scandal that led to the resignation of president Richard Nixon came to light on June 17, 1972, with the arrest of five men in offices of the Democratic Party, located in the Watergate complex – hence its name – in Washington DC. After multiple legal incidents, the role of the Nixon administration became increasingly apparent. In August 1974, Nixon had to hand over transcripts of three tapes that implicated him in covering up the scandal. On August 8, he announced his resignation from the presidency.
6. Roe V. Wade and the Legalization of Abortion in the United States
Roe v. Wade is the name of the court case by which the right to induced abortion was recognized in 1973 in the US. It was on January 22 of that year, when the Supreme Court announced its decision, invalidating a Texas law that criminalized abortion Unless a woman’s life was at stake. The case began in 1970, when Jane Roe, a fictitious name to protect the identity of Norma McCorvey, filed a federal action against Henry Wade, the Dallas County attorney where she lived.
7. Chicago’s Sears Tower, the Tallest in the World
In 1973, the Sears Tower in Chicago rose to the fore as the tallest building in the world, surpassing the World Trade Center in New York. The tower, now known as the Willis Tower, is the second tallest building in the US. Its construction – begun in 1970 – was carried out by Sears, Roebuck & Co. The Tower raises its 110 stories to a height of 1,450 feet ( 442 meters).
8. Two Giants Are Born: Apple and Microsoft
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak began in 1976 to develop in a garage that years later became one of the most important computer companies of the 20th century. Apple, founded on April 1, 1976, continues to revolutionize the world of technology with its popular Macs, iPods, iPhones, and iPads. A year earlier, in 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen had founded Microsoft, another technology giant, essentially dedicated to the software and hardware sector. Its Xbox video game platform is also well known.
9. Tangshan Earthquake Kills More than 240,000 People
The tragedy occurred on July 28, 1976 in the northeastern part of China, near the coast. The epicenter was located about 140 kilometers southeast of Beijing, in the vicinity of Tangshan. The first earthquake, of magnitude 7.5, was followed by a powerful aftershock 15 hours later. According to official sources, the two earthquakes killed 242,769 people, although some estimates claim that they were 655,000. Almost 800,000 people were injured. The aftershocks continued for days. The damage extended to Beijing.
10. Goodbye to Big Three: Hendrix, Elvis, and Chaplin
On September 18, 1970, in London, Jimi Hendrix, considered one of the best electric guitarists in popular music, died at the age of 27, after consuming a mixture of sleeping pills and alcohol. Elvis Presley, King of Rock’n’Roll, was found dead on August 16, 1977. He was 42 years old. His death was from heart failure, related to his drug addiction. Also in 1977, the great Charles “Charlie” Chaplin died at the age of 88, leaving a legacy of comedy and acting.
11. Movie Classics
The 70s left us with great movie classics: the wonderful Star Wars that would lead to two formidable sequels; a Francis Ford Coppola in his prime, leaving two capital installments of The Godfather saga; Films like Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and Manhattan, Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, or Steven Spielberg’s Jaws also stood out. In addition, the horror genre left us with great classics like The Exorcist. Among the actors were Liza Minnelli, Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Barbara Streisand, and Marlon Brando.
12. The Torrijos-carter Treaties Are Signed for the Return of the Canal to Panama
On September 7, 1977, Omar Torrijos, head of government of Panama, and Jimmy Carter, President of the United States, signed in Washington, D.C., the Torrijos-Carter treaties to return the Panama Canal to the Central American country after 96 years of colonization. The ceremony was held at the offices of the Organization of American States, with the attendance of several Ibero-American presidents. Subsequently, they were ratified by a plebiscite in Panama, on October 23, and approved by the US Senate, in April 1978.
13. Donna Summer, Village People, and ‘Disco’ Music
Disco music, a genre derived from rhythm & blues that mixed elements of previous genres, such as soul and funk, with Latin touches in many cases, became popular in dance halls in the late 70s. Before, towards the middle Of the decade, the most characteristic interpreters of this music such as Donna Summer, The Jackson 5, Chic, Gloria Gaynor, Barry White, The Bee Gees, KC and The Sunshine Band, Boney M., or Village People obtained their main successes.
14. The World Welcomes Pope John Paul II
Born Karol Jozef Wojtyla in Poland, the world would know him as John Paul II. . He was the first non-Italian pontiff in more than 400 years when he became pope on October 16, 1978. He would play an important role in overthrowing communism in Europe and improving the Church’s relations with Judaism, Islam, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion. The Traveling Pope died in 2005, at the age of 84. Nine years later, on April 27, 2014, he was declared a saint.
15. The Day New York City Went Dark
New York suffered a 25-hour blackout on July 13-14, 1977, after lightning struck overhead power lines. The blackout was for many a metaphor for the gloom the city was experiencing: an economic decline, rising crime rates, and panic over a wave of crimes committed by David Berkowitz, known as “The Son of Sam.” When power was restored, vandals had caused more than 1,000 fires and looters had robbed 1,600 stores, according to The New York Times.
16. The First Test Tube Baby Is Born
Louise Joy Brown was born on July 25, 1978, in Manchester, England, and was the first person in the world to be born from in vitro fertilization (IVF). Her birth was surrounded by controversy because of how she was conceived: a process in which the egg is removed from a woman’s ovaries to be fertilized with sperm in a laboratory and implanted back into the uterus. IVF is currently considered a conventional medical treatment for infertility.
17. Jonestown, or the Greatest Mass Suicide in History
“We are not committing suicide — it’s a revolutionary act.” After hearing the words of the American evangelical pastor Jim Jones, 918 people who consumed a cyanide drink died on November 18, 1978, in Guyana, South America. It was the biggest collective suicide in history. It was the People’s Temple sect, created in Indianapolis in 1956 by Jones, who moved with his followers to Jonestown under the promise of finding a paradise.
18. Mother Teresa of Calcutta Wins the Nobel Peace Prize
It was October 17, 1979. That day Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known as the Mother Teresa of Calcutta, won the Nobel Peace Prize for work undertaken in the fight to overcome poverty and anguish, which also constitute a threat to peace.
19. Sony Introduces the Iconic Walkman
The sound barrier was broken once again in the 1970s, but this time — literally — in the wake of man. Sony introduced in July 1979 the Walkman, the first portable stereo sound player, which together with lightweight headphones gave listeners the freedom to listen to music in private, even in public. The product was an instant hit. The Walkman became a hot brand among consumers, setting a standard for future generations of personal devices like Apple’s iPod.
20. Iran Takes Hostages in Tehran
On November 4, 1979, the year Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in Iran, a group of followers of the religious leader invaded the American embassy in Tehran and kidnapped 66 Americans, 52 of whom were held captive for 444 days. Following a failed rescue attempt, the situation was resolved in 1981, when Iran agreed to release the hostages following the death of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and Washington’s decision to lift some reprisals against Tehran for the embassy assault.