10 Things You May Not Know Happened In The 1970s

If you lived through the 1970s or cracked open a history book since then, you know all about Watergate, the oil embargo, and groovy disco balls.

Who could forget bellbottoms, especially since they came back and went out of fashion again? (Can they stay out now?)

Before the decade associated with selfishness and Ronald Reagan hit, the ’70s introduced many aspects of modern life you may not know about. These are all the hits.

Beatles Last LP

The band who defined the 60s, and for some defined rock and roll, released their last album together in the 70s. They released Let It Be, recorded before Abbey Road, in May of 1970.

That was a month after the band split up. Some fans assert that Abbey Road was their last album, because they recorded it last, but does it really matter? It was the end of an era.

Four New Styles Of Music

If you were to ask most folks, they’d tell you the ’80s gave us hip hop and metal music, even commercial pop. All three came to us via the previous decade.

The 1970s saw a shift in fashion when Mod transitioned in punk fashion. In black communities, the battle between funk and hip-hop raged. Elements of funk made their way into mainstream music, while hip hop stayed fringe until the ’80s.

Even metal made its debut via new bands and ’60s bands looking for a new sound.

Led Zeppelin found a metal sound, Judas Priest rattled rock fans, and Van Halen started to wail.


In 1975 the first Betamax players hit the shelves. Two years later, VHS hit. Fighting over which was superior immediately ensued.

Kidding, but for the first time ever, folks could watch movies from the comfort of their Davenport.

Most homes wouldn’t take to the nascent technology until the 80s.

Video Games

The first at-home video game was Pong. There were electronic games before that, but it wasn’t until 1972 that Atari released their Pong console.

A year earlier, the Computer Space arcade game nudged in between pinball machines. It was coin operated, just like the pinball games.

Personal Computers

IBM 5100 | timetoast.com

No, the personal computer did not hit shelves in the ‘80s. In fact, most homes didn’t catch up to personal computing for two decades. The ’90s s would witness sweeping overhauls in computing, including the first pocket cell phones.

It was 1973 when we could buy the first commercially available personal computer, the IBM SCAMP. Some would argue the Altair 8800 was the first, released in 1974.

Either way, the prize goes to the ‘70s, not the ‘80s.

Disposable Lighters


The first lighters used gunpowder and flintlock, not much different than what powered bullets to fly through the air. They were cumbersome, though.

Zippo lighters, found in 1932, introduced pocket-sized lighters to the world, but they were expensive to lose.

In 1973, the pen company known as Bic introduced a lighter you could lose and not freak out. They encouraged you to “flick your Bic.”

Environmentalists immediately lost their minds.


The 20th century took plastic surgery from the fringe to the mainstream, but it was the 1970s where we learned we could suck the fat right off.

Surgeons in Europe had been playing with curettage techniques for removing fat, which was disastrous in some cases.

Two Italian gynecologists in 1974 first invented liposuction, but the liposuction trend wouldn’t hit until the ‘80s.


Paul C. Lauterbur | ljworld.com

In September 1971, Paul C. Lauterbur published his theory on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

Prior to that, March the same year, a paper on Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), featured in the journal Science by Raymond Damadian revealed evidence that Damadian could distinguish cancerous tissue from normal.

Damadian insists that it was his research that led to the invention of MRI.

Lauterbur generated the first 2D and 3D MRI images, which he published in 1973. Another group, led by John Mallard at the University of Aberdeen, built the first full body MRI scanner.

In August of 1980, they made the first useful full body scan. History records Lauterbur as the champion of MRI research, awarding him the Nobel Prize in 2003.

Artificial Hearts

We already had played with artificial heart pumping systems for use during surgery as early as 1954, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that our first artificial hearts hit the scene.

The first versions were not perfect. In 1973, a calf survived for 30 days on an artificial heart. Two years later a bull lived 90 days. By ’76 we kept a calf alive for 184 days.

It wasn’t until 1982 that we would connect the first artificial heart to a human. That man lived 112 days, but it wasn’t pretty.

For all that pain and suffering (and eventual survival by future humans) we can thank the best decade of the century, the ‘70s.

Inline Skates

Although the first patent for inline skates predates the ’70, the first marketing for inline skates hit the Canadian airways in 1972.

Mountain Dew attempted to sell something called the Skeeler, an inlines skate developed for Russian hockey players.

They failed, but it was enough to build interest for another company called Rollerblade. The first commercially available Rollerblades sold in 1987.

What a list of awesome, important gifts to the world, huh? Thank you ‘70s for all that you gave us. We’re forever in your debt. There was one thing the ’70s gave us which didn’t make the list… this writer.