Home > 70s Culture > 1970s History

1970s History

History Books

1970s history though quirky and full of fun, the 70s left an indelible mark on the history of America.

The country entered the decade ensconced in a war and emerged from the decade with hopes of peace.

Women in the 70s made it from the home to the workplace and men were no longer the sole bread winners.

Kids learned “new math”, watched rockets head to the moon on a regular basis, and slowly entered the age of technology. It was truly a time of progress in the 1970s.


The 1970s was considered to be the era of the second wave of feminism. The movement was fueled by Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, published in the 1960s.

Friedan’s book noted that women shouldn’t be required to find the meaning in their lives through their husband and children. The Women’s Liberation movement in the 70s was characterized by bra burning and the refusal by some women to allow a man to open a door for them.

Outspoken feminists like Gloria Steinem convinced women to be more independent and brought feminist issues to the dinner table, where husbands and wives didn’t always see eye to eye.

70s Automobiles

70s Automobile, Muscle Car

A number of issues affected the auto industry of the 1970s. Concerns about safety and air pollution were just a few of those factors.

Muscle cars died out and were replaced with more fuel-efficient models, especially after the 1973 fuel embargo, which drove gasoline prices up to 50 cents a gallon.

Coupes were a popular body style, but many cars took on a much boxier look. Some 70s cars were also not well known for their quality, which allowed the Japanese manufacturers to begin to make an impact on the market.

70s Television Shows

70s Television

Simply put, TV in the 70s was entertaining. 70s Sitcoms were genuinely funny and the major characters never found it necessary to utter a four-letter word.

We laughed at the antics of Laverne and Shirley as they toiled at the Shotz Brewery and sang along wit The Partridge Family.

All in the Family shocked us while The Mary Tyler Moore Show made us laugh and cry. M*A*S*H brought the humorous but alarming realities of war into our living rooms.

Detective shows didn’t feature gory crime investigation scenes. Instead, our favorite detectives were quirky characters like Peter Falk’s Columbo and Telly Savalas’ Kojak.

And variety shows were still popular, like Sonny and Cher, Tony Orlando and Dawn, and Carol Burnett. Even shows that came on after 9 pm were suitable for the ears of young family members.

The Final Frontier

70s Space Program

Space exploration caused a lot of excitement in the 1970s. After all, man had landed on the moon just 6 months prior to the start of the decade.

Subsequent moon landings continued until 1972, even though 1970 brought the scary Apollo 13 incident.

(“Houston, we have a problem.”) The Skylab program started in 1973 and NASA began planning for the advent of the Space Shuttle Program soon after. It would commence in 1981.

Technology / Science Many of us who lived through the 1970s remember how gadgets began to make life easier and more entertaining.

Moms who had a job outside the home could now rely on their new microwave ovens to cook dinner or heat up leftovers. Kids sat mesmerized in front of the color TV and played the earliest versions of video games, like Pong, Atari’s first home video game available on the Atari 2600 system.

This simple game was truly the beginning of the video game industry. The 1970s also saw the advent of fiber optic technology, largely used in the communications industry.

Pocket calculators helped figure out the household budget and make school math a bit easier, and towards the end of the decade, VCRs – if you could afford one – let you watch your favorite movies from the comfort of your La-Z-Boy lounger.

Though many may not realize it, the first email was sent in 1971 and the e-book made its entrance during the same year.

Barcodes appeared on most grocery store items and MRIs made it easier to diagnose cancer and other diseases. And, amidst much controversy, the first test-tube baby – Louise Brown – was born, a nod to the truly remarkable advances in science that occurred during the 70s decade.

Other Notable Events of the 1970s

  • The first Earth Day is celebrated in April 1970
  • The Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) is signed by the US and the Soviets in 1972
  • In August 1974, President Richard Nixon resigns amidst the Watergate scandal
  • America celebrates its bicentennial birthday in 1976