50 years ago…beginning around 1970
As we celebrate 2020 it is useful for (those old enough) to look back about 50 years and note the changes. There has been much promise and many problems across these many years… So many changes occurred in the blink of an eye, yet so little improvement endures, and we aren’t sure why.
The progressive values that began in the 1960s (e.g. increasing political awareness, economic liberty of women, civil rights and ecological awareness) grew to assume mainstream importance. Around 1970 the Mother Earth News and the Whole Earth Catalogue appeared, promoting the counter-culture values, the do-it-yourself life, and environmental concerns. In 2005 Apple founder Steve Jobs called the Whole Earth Catalogue the Google of his generation. Fifty years later, the Whole Earth Catalogue is archived online, available at no cost. Mother Earth News is still here, often found on grocery store magazine racks—today a slick almost-mainstream magazine. What follows is a wandering listing of changes begun back then.
At this point in time, most people I enjoy being around, are still above ground. I’m not certain we’ll all be around to celebrate 2030, and 2040 is simply too far a mark to reach in my mind. I feel that 2020 will be a most remarkable year politically; especially if the current president refuses to step down. I’m certain that future historians will view 2020 as a watershed moment for our culture, politics, environment, and self-concept. Don’t blink or you might miss the import of 2020.
Important Numbers and Notions
- Price of loaf of bread in 1970: 25 cents
- Ford Pinto automobile: $1,919.00
- US Lowers The Voting Age To 18
- US Life Expectancy:
- Males: 67.1 years—still alive today it could be 84 ,
- Females: 74.7 years— still alive today it could be 86.4.
- Dow Jones Drops To 631 today 28,455.
- Worlds Population Reaches 3.63 Billion Today It Is 7.53 Billion
- Novelist Tom Wolfe coined the term “‘Me’ decade”.
- The Top Song was Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel.
- The Big Movies included Love Story, Airport and M*A*S*H.
- Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin die from overdoses.
- “No Fault” Divorce Law begins in California. (Free sex was dying out and people were getting married again)
- Nothing Went Viral.
- You made friends without Facebook.
- Beatles disbanded and Tina Fey is born.
World and Political Events
- Vietnamese Forces launched the Tet Offensive and changed how America saw the Vietnam war efforts.
- North Korea captures the USS Pueblo.
- The Prague Spring emerges in central Europe.
- U.S. athletes take a stand at the Summer Olympics
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is signed in 1968, and is now undergoing a midlife crisis.
- Nixon invades Cambodia.
- Aswan High Dam brings flood control and power to Egypt.
- Chicago Seven show-trial begins, and they are later acquitted.
- Nixon sets up the EPA and opens trade with China.
- 100,000 people demonstrate in Washington DC against the Vietnam War.
- Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
- Robert F. Kennedy assassinated in Los Angeles, California.
Long before the technology existed to actually build the internet, many scientists had already anticipated the existence of worldwide networks of information. Nikola Tesla toyed with the idea of a “world wireless system” in the early 1900s. Still, the first practical schematics for the internet would not arrive until the early 1960s. The first workable prototype of the Internet came in the late 1960s with the creation of ARPANET funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. On October 29, 1969, the first message was sent from one computer to another (Each computer was the size of a small house.) The message—“LOGIN”—was short and simple, but it crashed the fledgling network anyway: Not unlike what ensures after today’s “updates”. The online world then took on a more recognizable form in 1990, when computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.
- Boeing introduces the first 747 “Jumbo Jet”
- Your phone did not fit in your pocket…but was tethered to a desk.
- Samsung originally sold noodles! It wasn’t until 1970 that they started selling electronics.
- Apollo 8 is the first manned spacecraft to orbit the Moon
My 2020 Conclusion
This New Year I ponder these two questions:
1) What did I think this century would be like in the year 2000?
2) What will I be looking forward to in 2020?
And then my dog and I make a toast while reciting the following photo-poem.