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In Photos: Throwback To Life In The 1970s

Clare Fitzgerald
Photo Credit: Archive Photos / Getty Images

The 1970s were truly an iconic decade in history. Whether you were a child who always made sure your parents bought you a treat from the local ice cream truck or an adult celebrating the resignation of then-President Richard Nixon, the majority of us have fond memories of that time in our lives. Here are some images to take you on a much-needed trip down memory lane.

Grease lightning

One of the more well-known films of the 1970s was Grease. While we might not have believed the actors were actually in high school (we’re looking at you, Kenickie), the movie’s catchy music had moviegoers lining up to rewatch. In fact, it was so successful that it became the highest-grossing musical at the time.

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta dressed as their characters in Grease

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While its 1982 sequel may not have received as warm a reception, no one can knock the talent Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta brought to the table. In 2020, the film was added to the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

The Apollo 13 space mission

The Apollo 13 space mission was the seventh crewed mission of the Apollo program and the third intended to land on the moon. Its crew of three astronauts — Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert — took off from Kennedy Space Center on April 11, 1970.

NASA employees in the control room during the Apollo 13 return

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The Apollo spacecraft was actually made up of two independent crafts joined together by a tunnel, the Odyssey and the Aquarius. At some point during the mission, an oxygen tank failed, causing them to abort the lunar landing at the last minute. Instead, the module circled the moon and landed back on earth just six days after launch.

Nixon resigns after Watergate

Richard Nixon‘s involvement in the Watergate scandal was the last nail in the coffin for his presidency. The public’s confidence in him as a leader waned, and numerous anti-Nixon protests were held at public venues. In July 1974, the House Judiciary Committee adopted three articles of impeachment against him, leading him to resign.

A crowd celebrating Richard Nixon's resignation

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On August 8, 1974, Nixon appeared on TV to announce he would be stepping down from his role as president, the first to do so. People gathered in front of the White House to celebrate his resignation. In fact, the crowd was so large that it overflowed into the surrounding neighborhoods.

The Beatles disband

During the final years of the 1960s, the members of The Beatles were pursuing their own music and business ventures. On April 10, 1970, member Paul McCartney stunned fans across the world when he announced the band was splitting up.

Yoko Ono standing over John Lennon's shoulder

Photo Credit: Ron Howard / Getty Images

By the end of the year, McCartney filed suit to dissolve the band’s business partnership, making the split official. There were many rumors surrounding the cause, including John Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono and the actions of the band’s new manager, Allen Klein, but the issues actually ran much deeper.

1973 Oil Crisis

In October 1973, the Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (O.P.E.C.) announced an embargo on the U.S. in response to its support of Israel and the Yom Kippur War. What resulted was a gas shortage of epic proportions, as people lined up for hours at gas pumps out of fear of running out of the now-precious commodity.

Cars lined up at a gas station

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There are some who theorized Big Oil actually fabricated the shortage to jack up gas prices. Whether they were believed or not, the resulting panic led not only to a country-wide oil shortage, but a realization of just how dependent America was on foreign oil.

The mega-franchise that is Star Wars is born

The first movie in what would become a multi-media franchise was released in theaters during the 1970s. Star Wars, later retitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, experienced a limited release over the 1977 Memorial Day weekend, shattering expectations. It was soon released worldwide and became the highest-grossing film at the time, surpassing 1975’s Jaws.

Fans lineup outside a movie theatre

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Starring the likes of Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford, Star Wars was praised for its visual effects. It won six Oscars at the 50th Academy Awards, including Best Costume Design and Best Visual Effects, and fast became a cultural phenomenon.

The beginning of the arcade era

The 1970s saw the inception of the video game industry. The first mainstream hit was 1972’s Pong, stirring an industry that today is worth billions. Arcades soon became a part of popular culture, and anyone who wanted to play the newest releases knew they could find them at their local gaming establishment.

People walking into an arcade

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The golden age of arcade video games lasted from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. It’s marked by increased technological development, a period of rapid growth in the sector, and the cultural influence video games were having on society. It also saw a shift to colored games, which, let’s be honest, is much more enjoyable than playing a game in black and white.

The death of the King

The “King of Rock and Roll,” Elvis Presley was one of the most popular musicians in America during the mid-20th century. His dance moves and genre-blending music made him top news, and his fans idolized him. After a break from music to focus on his acting career, he returned to the scene between 1968 and 1973.

Fans gather on the street during Elvis Presley's funeral

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Presley was found dead on the bathroom floor on August 16, 1977. Two days later, his funeral was held at Graceland. An estimated 80,000 onlookers and fans gathered outside the gates and along the processional route to Forest Hill Cemetery, where the late singer was buried beside his mother.

People begin to work on computers

While computers have been around since the 1950s, the technology greatly improved during the 1970s. They were more widely used, as more people purchased them for work. They were much easier to use than typewriters or even writing things out by hand.

Woman smiling while sitting in front of a computer

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Two of the most successful computer companies of today, Microsoft and Apple, were formed during this period. By 1978, Microsoft was seeing earnings topping more than $1 million, while Apple saw an average annual growth of 533 percent toward the end of the decade.

A night out at the roller disco

Roller discos became a popular place for young adults to hang out during the 1970s. Rollerskating paired perfectly with the disco music that often played while attendees skated. It was common courtesy to skate in one direction, so as to not crash into others, but those wishing to show off their moves could do so in the center of the rink.

People rollerskating at a roller disco

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Despite being a popular pastime in the ’70s, roller discos reached peak popularity during the early 1980s. The activity has since seen a resurgence in mainstream culture, thanks to social media. Who knows, maybe new rinks will open up!

It’s a pet rock

While the majority of children ask their parents for a cat or a dog, those in the 1970s were interested in just one type of pet: a rock. Created by Gary Dahl in 1975, pet rocks were marketed like live animals, complete with a carrying box with straw and air holes. For those who couldn’t be bothered with feeding or walking an actual pet, these rocks were the way to go.

Gary Dahl standing behind a cash register with boxes of pet rocks

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The fad only lasted about six months or so. By 1976, interest in them had died down and the product was discontinued due to low sales. Despite this, Dahl managed to sell over one million at $4 each, effectively becoming a millionaire.

Vinyl tops everywhere

While cars with vinyl roofs have been around since the 1920s, they became increasingly popular during the 1970s. Almost every car company released a vehicle with one, including Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and Chrysler. While initially designed to give a non-convertible car the appearance that its roof was moveable, it eventually became a style in its own right.

A red 1970 Ford Thunderbird

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In general, some of the most recognizable cars of the last century were released during the 1970s. These include the 1970 Ford Thunderbird, the 1970 Dodge Challenger, and the 1972 Plymouth Road Runner. They currently go on the resale market for a pretty penny.