1970 1979

In the 1970s there was a transition from the "hippy" style to the "disco" style as platform shoes and wide-leg trouser pants became fashionable. The Watergate scandal began to unfold, leading to the resignation of U.S. President Richard Nixon. The U.S. Supreme court upholds Roe vs. Wade, constitutionalizing abortion.






  • MRI Patent
  • CAT Scan
  • Videotape


  • Earth Day
  • Nixon resigns
  • Mother Teresa wins Nobel Prize

Defining Decades Webpage

Reach out and touch someone. (1979) AT&T


Only a handful of music genres were of the most successful and most popular during the 1970s. The first was soft rock (which was the “pop music” of that generation) and was led by artists such as Elton John, Chicago, The Eagles, Paul McCartney and Wings, The Doobie Brothers, Fleetwood Mac and Bruce Springsteen.

Another style that had much influence, especially in the latter half of the decade, was Disco, which was a dance style that was characterized by an electric sound and a strong beat. KC and the Sunshine Band, ABBA (the most successful group of the 70s), Village People, Donna Summer and The Bee Gees were the leading talents in this genre. The popularity of the genre was propelled by successful films featuring the music and lifestyle, such as Saturday Night Fever.

The last of the most successful styles of music was rock. In general, rock music became edgier during this time as a response to the lighter, peppier offerings of the disco genre. Led Zepplin was the most successful of this group (falling second overall to ABBA); others included The Who, Pink Floyd, AD/DC, Aerosmith, Joan Jett, Alice Cooper, and Blue Oyster Cult.

The decade saw the passing of many great musicians, some of which include: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, 3 members of Lynyrd Skynyrd (plane crash), Elvis Presley and Bing Crosby.


The highest grossing film of the 1970s was Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.  The film contained unprecedented special effects, won six Academy Awards, and is ranked among the best films of all times (American Film Institute’s 100 years…100 movies).

Other notable films from the decade include Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Jaws, The Exorcist, The Godfather, Rocky, Superman, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  All That Jazz (1979) was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress after being deemed “culturally significant.”

Meanwhile, television programming really began evolving in the 70s as networks transitioned away from the “wholesome” and toward the “edgy”.  All in the Family, Charlie’s Angels, The Love Boat, Three’s Company, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show ruled the airwaves.  Game shows such as The Hollywood Squares, Family Feud and The Price is Right were also very popular.


The 1970’s fashion began as a continuation of the 1960’s hippie styles, however this soon changed as popular culture became increasingly influential on the fashion trends of this unique decade. Hot pants, platform shoes, and wide leg pants and jeans known as bell-bottoms are a few of the fashions to come out of the 1970’s. One of the main influences on the fashion of this decade is from the movie Saturday Night Fever, with John Travolta. From the Fever, the “disco look,” emerged, complete with three-piece suits for men and rayon or jersey wrap dresses for women.

Some of the other trends seen in the 1970’s are “high-waisted, flared satin trousers or denims decorated with rhinestones, tight lurex halter tops, metallic-colored lamé and antique velvet dresses, satin hot pants, sequined bra tops, and occasionally ostrich- feather boas draped over shoulders, and turbans for headwear. Thrift shopping became popular, with the reemergence of the 1930s and 1940s look. Short imitation rabbit-fur jacket became fashionable, and make-up was garish and glittery, with eyebrows thinly plucked.”

A few of the other fashion donned in the 1970’s include: baseball jerseys and custom t-shirts, leotards, one piece swimsuits, zippered jumpsuit for both men and women, wrap skirts and dresses of rayon or , neck-scarves, polyester, double knitting, skin-tight, trousers, tube tops, and slit skirts, silk blouses, spaghetti-strapped tank tops and shirt-waist dresses were also worn. In addition to platforms, “women's shoes echoed the 1940s, with high-heeled lower-platform mules—"Candies" made of molded plastic with a single leather strap over the ball of the foot or "BareTraps" made of wood becoming very popular.” Disco began to decline late in the decade and replaced with designer jeans styled by straight, cigarette-legs, and painters' pants.

Disco’s ultimate replacement was punk fashion. Vivenne Westwood was one of the original designers who began the punk fashion movement. It began in the United Kingdom and quickly spread to Europe. “Punk’s manifesto is creation through disorder. Safety pins became nose and ear jewelry, rubber fetish wear was subverted to become daywear, and images of mass murderers, rapists, and criminals were elevated to iconographic status.” Some other influences of punk fashion are the Sex Pistols and Andy Warhol, and brands such as Velvet Underground. Key elements of punk are ripped jeans, torn t-shirts, scrappy haircuts, worn and torn leather jackets, filthy tennis-shoes, or pointy beatle boots. Ultimately, to be punk you should have a “thrown together poverty look.”


The 1970’s was the definitive era of the muscle cars. This revival of muscle cars saw its origins in 1950’s, but did not become a trend until the 70’s. Muscle cars are identified by their high performance abilities, powerful engines, and 2 door coupes. “They are products of the American car industry adhering to the hot rodder's philosophy of taking a small car and putting a BIG engine in it.” In contrast to foreign cars, “the muscle car was designed for straight-line speed, and did not have the sophisticated chassis, engineering integrity, or lithe appearance of European high-performance cars.” Another key aspect of the muscle car trend is that they are affordable, which was an attractive incentive for the youth.

One of the most popular muscle car models is the Chevy Chevelle. By the 1970’s, the Chevelle was in its third generation. Some of the key features of the 1970 model is that “sheet metal revisions gave the bodies a more squared-up stance, and interiors were redesigned.” Also, the 1970 Chevelle came in a sports coupe, sports sedan, convertible, four-door sedan, a couple of wagons, and the pickup (El Camino) body styles, and only 3 of these were available as a 2 SS(Super Sport). The SS options were limited to the Malibu 2-door sport coupe, convertible, and pickup. Other new options included power door locks and a stalk-mounted wiper control. Engine choices ranged from the standard 155 horsepower (116 kW) six-cylinder and 200-horsepower 307-cubic-inch V8, to a pair of 350 V8s and a pair of 402 engines.

The Dodge Charger was a 1970’s favorite. In its second generation, which featured a large “wraparound chrome bumper and the grille, new electric headlight, and taillights that were similar to previous models.” Interior changes included “new high-back bucket seats, the door panels were also revised and the map pockets were now optional instead of standard. The ignition was moved from the dash to the steering column, and the glove box was now hinged at the bottom. It’s new engine option made the Charger's list for the first time, the 440 Six Pack. With three two-barrel carburetors and a rating of 390 hp (290 kW), which was one of the most exotic setups.”


MRI Patent

First Patent in the Field of MRI
Although magnetic resonance imaging didn't actually become widely used until the early 80's the basis for using magnetic resonance imaging as an innovative medical diagnostic technique was discovered in 1970 by Raymond Damadian, a medical doctor and research scientist. He found that different kinds of animal tissue emit response signals that vary in length, and that cancerous tissue emits response signals that last much longer than non cancerous tissue. Less than two years later he filed his idea for using magnetic resonance imaging as a tool for medical diagnosis with the U.S. Patent Office, entitled "Apparatus and Method for Detecting Cancer in Tissue." A patent was granted in 1974, it was the world's first patent issued in the field of MRI. By 1977, Dr. Damadian completed construction of the first whole-body MRI scanner, which he dubbed the "Indomitable." When you lie inside an MRI machine, the magnetic field temporarily aligns the water molecules in your body. Radio waves cause these aligned particles to produce very faint signals, which are used to create cross-sectional MRI images — like slices in a loaf of bread. The MRI machine can also be used to produce 3-D images that may be viewed from many different angles. Like the CAT scan it often eliminates the need for invasive surgery to diagnose "malfunctions" of the human body.

CAT Scan

Computed Tomography (CT) imaging is also known as "CAT scanning" (Computed Axial Tomography). Tomography is from the Greek word "tomos" meaning "slice" or "section" and "graphia" meaning "describing". CT was invented in 1972 by British engineer Godfrey Hounsfield of EMI Laboratories, England and by South Africa-born physicist Allan Cormack of Tufts University, Massachusetts. Hounsfield and Cormack were awarded the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The first clinical CT scanners were installed between 1974 and 1976. The original systems were dedicated to head imaging only, but "whole body" systems with larger patient openings became available in 1976. CAT scans take the idea of conventional X-ray imaging to a new level. Instead of finding the outline of bones and organs, a CAT scan machine forms a full three-dimensional computer model of a patient's insides.In a CAT scan machine, the X-ray beam moves all around the patient, scanning from hundreds of different angles. The computer takes all this information and puts together a 3-D image of the body. Doctors can even examine the body one narrow slice at a time to pinpoint specific areas. The technology is an innovation that has made it possible for doctors to diagnose and treat illness with no invasive
exploratory surgery increasing life expectancy and improving overall quality of life.


War of the Video Formats
The 1970s was a period when video recording came to be a major production factor in the television industry. As is usual with technological innovations several companies attempted to produce "the" television recording standard for the world. At the height of the race to produce a standard the home video industry battled over the two most popular formats - Betamax and VHS (Video Home System). Sony's Betamax video standard was introduced in 1975, JVC came out with VHS in 1976. Manufacturers chose sides in the battle: on the Betamax side were Sony, Toshiba, Sanyo, NEC, Aiwa, and Pioneer, on the VHS side were JVC, Matsushita (Panasonic), Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Sharp, and Akai. Throughout the decade the two standards battled for dominance, with VHS eventually winning the war. But now VHS has become outdated - we need ways to recycle/reuse VHS tapes!


April 22, 1970

On this day the first "Earth Day" was celebrated and an environmental movement was launched that continues today. Twenty million demonstrators and thousands of schools and local communities participated in 1970. Founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, realized that if he could bring the energy of the student anti-war movement together with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution environmental protection issues would be advanced on the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the media and it took on a life of its own. Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from all walks of life - Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, young and old, urban and rural. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

August 8, 1974

In the 1972 election the incumbent Nixon had defeated Democratic candidate George McGovern by one of the widest margins on record, but within a few months his administration was embattled over the so-called "Watergate" scandal. A break-in at the offices of the Democratic National Committee during the 1972 campaign had been traced to officials of the Committee to Re-elect the President. A number of administration officials resigned; some were later convicted of offenses connected with efforts to cover up the affair. Nixon denied any personal involvement but the courts forced him to turn over tape recordings which proved he had tried to divert the investigation. After two years of bitter public debate over the Watergate scandal, the 37th President of the United States Richard M. Nixon bowed to pressures from the public and leaders of his party and became the first President in American history to resign.

October 18, 1979

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a Roman Catholic nun of Albanian stock who has cared for the poor and sick in India for more than 30 years, was named the winner of the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. She started the Mission of Charity in 1950 – dedicated to caring for “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.” She went on to open a hospice for the poor, a home for sufferers of leprosy, and a home for orphans and homeless youths. She refused the traditional Nobel honor banquet, instead requesting that the $192K funds be given to help the poor of India. She continued her work with the poor for the rest of her life, leading the Missionaries of Charity until just months before her death on September 5, 1997. The Catholic Church has begun to move Mother Teresa along the steps toward sainthood, and she was beatified in 2003. Her official title is now Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

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