What Happened in the 1970s? One Far-out Occurrence from Each Year

So…what happened in the 1970s? Well…how long you got? Because the truth is, you could write many libraries full of books on the happenings of the grooviest decade and still not run out of history. For now, here is one far-out event from each year of the 70s, occurrences that will live on in our memories (and in our consequences) forever.


  • Earth Day is introduced as a way to educate people about what they can do for the environment.
  • Related to Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency is formed in what would be a major step for protecting the environment.
  • Casey Kasam debuts on American radio as the host of “America’s Top 40.”


  • John Lennon releases his single Imagine which sparks what some call the last great rock-and-roll revolution that influenced humanitarian events such as Live Aid.
  • All in the Family premieres as what becomes one of the most popular and acclaimed television series in American history.
  • The Gold Standard comes to an end as what is replaced by fiat money.


  • Athletes from 56 countries participate at the Munich Olympics in what is the first major international sporting event that includes athletes from Africa.
  • The last (so far!) manned moon landing takes place.
  • Jackie Robinson, the first black player in what was then the major leagues, dies at age 53.
  • Richard Nixon wins what is his second presidential election.


  • The Watergate scandal rocks the White House as what is revealed to be the result of a break-in by five men.
  • Former President Lyndon B. Jonson dies at his Texas ranch.
  • Abortions activists score a victory at what is the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which legalizes abortion.


  • Appointed Vice President Gerald Ford becomes president after Nixon steps down amid the Watergate scandal.
  • The energy crisis results in what are long lines and gas rationing for Americans as OPEC limits what to export because of high demand from other countries.
  • A tornado starts starts in Oklahoma and sweeps across the Midwest leaves what is its most devastating path near Omaha, Nebraska.


  • Jaws is redefines summer blockbuster film.
  • A major blackout takes place the northeastern and midwestern United States, leaving some urban areas without power for up to 13 hours.
  • The US bails out by what are financially troubled New York City with $500 million worth of assistance.


  • The United States celebrates its Bicentennial anniversary as a nation, with festivities and parades all over the country.
  • The Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds win their second consecutive World Series.
  • Apple, Inc., is founded by Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne, and Steve Wozniak as a company that sells personal computers.
  • Microsoft is founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen.
  • Jimmy Carter is elected president of the United States, defeating Gerald Ford.


  • The Commodore PET becomes the first personal computer to be sold in the United States.
  • Elvis Presley (allegedly) dies at Graceland, aged 42.
  • The Bee Gees release their album “Saturday Night Fever” and become one of the most successful bands in history with what was called Disco.
  • A blackout in the Northeast black out electricity for 25 million people and what was called The Great Eastern Blackout.


  • World leaders meet for the Camp David Peace Accords to discuss what will become the nation of Israel.
  • The Panama Canal is returned to Panama by the U.S.


  • The Iran Hostage Crisis leads to what the U.S. called “Operation Eagle Claw” in an attempt to free hostages from Tehran’s American embassy, but it does not go well and a helicopter crashes into a transport plane carrying armed men, leading to eight deaths on board each aircraft as well as three killed on the ground by machine gun fire
  • The first major hip hop song, Rapper’s Delight is released by The Sugarhill Gang
  • A partial nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island sparks a partial evacuation and health fears that linger for decades.

(Like What Happened in the 1970s? Then you might like our article on Remembering What Happened in the 1980s, click here.)

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