17 Ultimate Facts about the 1970s

The 1970s was a massive period of transition not only in the US, but all over the world. Big political shifts, changes in entertainment and – yes – the way we dressed – came thick and fast. In a post-moon landing world, things became colorful and creative more so than ever before. Here’s a stack of facts about the 1970s well worth remembering.

1. The 1970s brought about big changes in fashion and music.

The 70s is, of course, the decade of disco! This new genre of music – evolving from soul and dance music – was helped along by hit movies such as ‘Saturday Night Fever’, starring John Travolta.

Disco music is defined as a type of dance music. In particular, you’ll notice a piece of disco music for its pulsating basslines, electronic instruments, and occasional string pieces! Sadly, disco famously “died” some time ago – but its influence is still felt in today’s music.

2. Microsoft made its debut.

1975 saw the founding of Microsoft. Originally, Paul Allen and Bill Gates founded the company as a software house – however, it would take another ten years before Windows debuted.

Microsoft is perhaps responsible for helping to make computers “personal.” Going up against Jobs and Wozniak’s Apple, Gates and Allen would take the lead in the market initially with its user-friendly Windows PCs, setting the standard for home and work computing all over the world.

3. Jim Davis introduced “Garfield” to newspapers.

In 1978, the iconic newspaper comic strip “Garfield” made its debut, and with it, a pop culture icon who helped to define the 1980s. The fat orange cat became a merchandising leviathan, and the strips are still running to this day.

Garfield’s been seen on everything from the inside of car windows, in his own videogames, and even on the big screen. There’s very little Garfield hasn’t touched when it comes to modern life!

Garfield Alarm Clock

4. Japan finally went to space.

The 70s finally saw Japan enter the space race behind the likes of the USSR, the US, and France. Their ascent into the stratosphere finally came around thanks to the launch of the L-4S Rocket (on its fifth attempt).

Japan had actually tried to get to space four times previously with this rocket, with the first attempt launching back in 1966.

5. “All My Children” debuted and became one of the longest-running soap operas of all time.

The long-running soap opera ‘All My Children’ debuted back in 1970 on ABC – it would finally come to an end in 2013!

Spanning 10,000 episodes and running across five different decades, the brainchild of Agnes Nixon was an important US TV staple that touched on a number of important societal issues as the years progressed.

6. Richard Nixon started the decade as US President and would soon become an infamous figure.

1970 saw the resounding election of Richard Nixon as US President – and, later on towards the middle of the decade, he’d be embroiled in the world-infamous Watergate scandal.

The scandal is somewhat complex – but ultimately, it revolved around the breaking-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters. As it transpired, Nixon and several of his White House allies had helped to cover up the scandal. Nixon resigned as a result under a cloud of controversy.

7. Elvis Presley passed away, shocking millions of music fans.

On August 16th, 1977, Elvis Presley – the King of Rock n’ Roll – passed away, leaving behind a colossal musical legacy.

Aged just 42 at the time of his passing, Presley’s star power had arguably been struggling for some time as a result of health concerns – but to this day, he’s regarded as one of the most influential pop music heroes of the 20th century. Only the Beatles come close to matching his legacy – and more on them shortly!

8. The world’s population reached four billion people.

The global population at the start of the 1970s was around 3.7 billion, surpassing the four billion mark by 1974.

This was a very big deal indeed – we reached a population of one billion in 1804, two billion in around 1927, and then three billion in 1960.

Data at the time of writing suggests there are more than eight billion people alive in the world today – meaning the population doubled since the 1970s!

9. Video gaming got off to a great start.

In 1972, Atari produced “Pong’,” the hugely influential bat-and-ball videogame. It’s considered the ultimate forerunner of video games.

However, the “Video Game Crash” would arise in the 1980s, leading to the cultural bubble bursting in the US and across the West. It would take a certain Japanese firm to help bring video games back to mainstream audience – they’re called “Nintendo,” you might have heard of them…

Atari Video Game Console

Atari Video Game Console

10. The twin towers opened in the 70s.

The World Trade Center buildings opened in NYC in April 1973, making them the tallest buildings in the world at the time.

Of course, they would be destroyed just over 28 years later, as the towers were brought down during the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks.

11. “The Godfather” debuted in cinemas in the early 1970s.

In March 1972, ‘The Godfather’ was released in cinemas – and it’s still regarded as one of the finest motion pictures ever produced.

Alongside its sequel, “The Godfather: Part Two,” the movies are critically lauded to this day, and made Hollywood legends out of the likes of Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Diane Keaton, and Robert De Niro.

12. It was also the decade of “Star Wars.”

We also have the 1970s to thank for the Star Wars saga – as George Lucas’ space opera “A New Hope” debuted in 1977. Across the late 70s and well into the 1980s, Star Wars would become an enormous multi-billion dollar merchandising leviathan. The original movie also cemented the likes of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill as household names.

And, Star Wars remains big news to this day, with TV series based in the universe, such as “The Mandalorian” and “Andor,” receiving critical acclaim from fans and critics.

Storm Troopers, Star Wars

Storm Troopers, Star Wars

13. Two pugilists in their prime took to the ring.

1975 marked the “Thrilla in Manila” – perhaps the most famous boxing match of all time. It was a heavyweight bout between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali – with Ali coming away the victor, claiming his title as “The Greatest of All Time.”

Ali would remain one of the most inspirational figures in the sport for decades after his retirement, having battled with Parkinson’s disease in later life. His self-granted title of “The Greatest” goes undisputed.

14. The first rap song was released.

In 1979, The Sugarhill Gang released “Rapper’s Delight,” thought to be a pivotal precursor to rap and hip-hop for decades to come.

The song is influential beyond its years – it’s been sampled in more than 280 other songs, even in the theme tune for “Futurama!”

15. The Beatles split up, stunning millions.

The 70s would finally see The Beatles split – with all four of the Merseyside legends embarking on solo careers. Despite some reports that things were acrimonious, the musicians would remain somewhat friendly with each other – with Paul

McCartney and Ringo Starr still occasionally performing together now.

John Lennon was tragically murdered in 1980, and George Harrison died of cancer in 2001.

The Beatles

The Beatles

16. SNL first emerged mid-decade.

1975 saw the first edition of “Saturday Night Live” debut in the US, with George Carlin hosting.

The topical sketch show remains on the air to this day as an important and often controversial lynchpin of satire on the schedules.

17. The US enshrined important rights into law.

US Congress made the Equal Rights Amendment constitutional in 1972 – which would grant equal rights to both male and female citizens. It wouldn’t be fully ratified until 1977.

The White House, Washington

FAQs about the 1970s

What defined the 1970s?

Arguably, the 70s was defined mainly by the fashion - flared pants, long hair, big hair, multicolor outfits - and enormous shoes!

What were some of the biggest things to come out of the 1970s?

The 1970s brought forward advances in technology (such as VCRs and computers) and music, however, it was also a decade of turmoil. It was during this decade, after all, when the Vietnam War took place.

What changed in the 70s?

The 70s brought forward stronger voices in favor of women’s rights and gay rights - with the Equal Rights Act, for example, amending the US constitution.

Do you know any fun facts about the 1970s? Share them in the comments below!

1 Comment

  • C.J. Chapman says:

    Item 17 is wrong. The Equal Rights Amendment has not been added to the US Constitution. In 1977 it had received 35 out of 38 required state ratifications, so still three short of the required 3/4 requirement. Five states have rescinded their ratifications.

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