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1979 Events

As the 70s decade was drawing to a close, a lot of changes were on the scene.

Computers were arriving in homes as were video games, and the face of politics in the U.S. was about to change dramatically as the 1980s neared.

Memorable 1979 events include:


  • The UN dubs 1979 the International Year of the Child and the yearlong celebration begins
  • A Midwestern blizzard kills more than 100 people


  • China invades North Vietnam
  • New Orleans cancels Mardi Gras due to a police strike


  • The Compact Disk is demonstrated publicly by the Phillips Corporation
  • C-SPAN TV is initiated and begins broadcasting live from the House of Representatives
  • A major nuclear accident occurs at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island. Thousands are evacuated but no deaths occur.


  • The final episode of All in the Family airs
  • The longest doubles ping pong match continues for 101 hours


  • Margaret Thatcher becomes the first woman prime minister of the U.K.
  • Elton John performs a live concert in the Soviet Union
  • Israel begins returning Sinai to Egypt


  • A disastrous oil spill occurs in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Rhodesia has its first black-led government in 90 years
  • The man-powered Gossamer Albatross is flown across the English Channel


  • The Sony Walkman goes on sale in Japan
  • NASA’s Skylab begins its return to earth after more than 6 months in space


  • Michael Jackson’s first breakthrough album, Off the Wall, is released and sells 7 million copies in the U.S. alone


  • Hurricane David kills 1,000 people in the Atlantic
  • Lee Iacocca becomes president of the Chrysler Corporation
  • The comic strip For Better or for Worse appears for the first time in U.S. newspapers


  • Pope John Paul II comes to the Unite States
  • Mother Theresa wins the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Walt Disney World welcomes its 100 millionth guest


  • The government loans $1.5 billion to Chrysler Corporation
  • President Carter halts all imports of Iranian oil
  • Pink Floyd releases The Wall album, selling 6 million copies in 2 weeks


  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture premieres at the Smithsonian Institution
  • Rhodesia gains its independence and becomes Zimbabwe