What Happened in 1979?

As the last official year of the 70s, 1979 had a lot of pressure on it! Disco was still well and thriving, but music trends such as ska and hip hop were just starting out.

It was a great time for bell bottoms, big hair, bright colors, and disco moves. It was also a time for political reforms, big votes, and, of course, some tragedies. Here are some of the biggest events from 1979 that are worth remembering for time to come.

In this year



The United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim kicked off the International Year of the Child as of January 1st, 1979. Musicians from all over the world donated to the Music for UNICEF Concert fund. In fact, Swedish supergroup ABBA wrote their hit song Chiquitita specifically to mark the big occasion!

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini


Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, finally returned to Tehran, Iran, after spending nearly 15 years in a state of exile. Just two days later, he would found what he referred to as the Council of the Islamic Revolution.

compact disc


We got a taste of the future of music on March 8th, 1979, as Philips unveiled the compact disc for the first time. This demonstration showed the world how playing CDs worked in practice – and this would shape home entertainment for decades to come. At least, until MP3s and streaming came along and changed everything again!

South African black children at school


As of April 17th, 1979, several schoolchildren in the Central African Republic were rounded up and arrested, and around 100 were even killed. They were attacked for protesting against being forced to wear uniforms at school. A judicial commission later found that Emperor Jean-Bédel Bokassa most likely had a hand in the killings.

Margaret Thatcher - UK prime minister 1979 to 1990


On May 3rd, 1979, Margaret Thatcher won a clear majority of the vote in the UK General Election, establishing her as the very first female Prime Minister of the country. The motion would effectively bring an end to James Callaghan’s government. Thatcher would remain in power for over a decade, and Labour wouldn’t return to power for another 18 years.

mcdonald's menu nutrition,


McDonald’s launched an American icon on June 15th, 1979, as children enjoyed Happy Meals for the first time across the US. The kids’ meal staple had been tested in Missouri in February – and they’re now available across the globe.

Sony Walkman


The Sony Walkman went on sale – as of July 1st, 1979 – for the first time in Japan. At the time, this portable cassette player was revolutionary, allowing users to play their favorite albums, audiobooks, and general recordings on private headphones. The Walkman line would evolve further once CDs became mainstream, which really wasn’t far away!

Micheal Jackson Off The Wall Album cover


August 10th saw the breakthrough release of “Off The Wall,” Michael Jackson’s chart-busting album release – the record would go seven times platinum in the US alone, making it one of the biggest-selling albums of the decade (with only a few months left to spare).

Pioneer 11


Pioneer 11, launched by NASA, took humanity further into the stars than ever before – as it was the very first spacecraft to pass by Saturn. Admittedly, it was around 13,000 miles away from the surface – but it was still an incredible feat!

Pope John Paul II


Pope John Paul II began a landmark tour of the US starting on October 1st and leading up to the 8th. This included the pontiff’s first-ever trip to the White House, where he met with then-President Jimmy Carter.

Iran hostage crisis


November 4th, 1979 saw the beginning of the Iran hostage crisis, which involved 500 radicals storming the US Embassy based in Tehran. The radicals would claim 90 hostages, most of them American. The standoff would last until January 1981, claiming the lives of nine people, and resulting in the end of formal relations between Iran and the US – as well as the resignation of then-Iranian Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan.

Klein Matterhorn Cable Car


Don’t look down – or, maybe you should! December 23rd, 1979 is the official birthday of the highest aerial tramway of its kind in Europe – the Klein Matterhorn.

1979 was the year of the…

chinese year of the goat


Like 1967, 1991, 2003, and 2015, 1979 gave thanks to Goats everywhere, thanks to China’s Zodiac. People born in Goat years are very empathic. They care a lot about others and will always do their best to help out. They are very sincere, too, so whatever they say to you, they mean it. The next Goat year won't be until 2027.

This page was last modified on April 29, 2024. Suggest an edit