In 1978, the world was a different place.
There was no Google yet. Or Yahoo. Or Facebook, for that matter.
In 1978, the year of your birth, the top selling movie was Grease. People buying the popcorn in the cinema lobby had glazing eyes when looking at the poste
Remember, that was before there were DVDs. People were indeed watching movies in the cinema, and not downloading them online. Imagine the packed seats, the laughter, the excitement, the novelty. And mostly all of that without 3D computer effects.
Do you know who won the Oscars that year? The academy award for the best movie went to The Deer Hunter. The Oscar for best foreign movie that year went to Get Out Your Handkerchiefs. The top actor was Jon Voight for his role as Luke Martin in Coming Home. The top actress was Jane Fonda for her role as Sally Hyde in Coming Home. The best director? Michael Cimino for The Deer Hunter.
In the year 1978, the time when you arrived on this planet, books were still popularly read on paper, not on digital devices. Trees were felled to get the word out. The number one US bestseller of the time wasChesapeake by James A. Michener. Oh, that’s many years ago. Have you read that book? Have you heard of it? Look at the cover!
In 1978… The Copyright Act of 1976 takes effect, making sweeping changes to United States copyright law. The Holy Crown of Hungary is returned to Hungary from the United States, where it was held since World War II. Richard Chase, the “Vampire of Sacramento”, is arrested. Ethiopia declares the ambassador of West Germany Persona non grata. The control tower and some other facilities of New Tokyo International Airport, which was scheduled to open on March 31, are illegally occupied and damaged by terrorist attack by New Left activists, being forced to reschedule its opening date to May 20. Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds gets his 3,000th major league hit. Charles Chaplin’s coffin is found 10 miles from the cemetery it was stolen from, near Lake Geneva. A bomb explodes in the security section of Northwestern University, wounding a security guard in the first Unabomber attack. Charon, a satellite of Pluto, is discovered. The U.S. scientific satellite Seasat is launched. Six men rob a Lufthansa cargo facility in New York City’s Kennedy airport. Pope John Paul I dies after only 33 days of papacy. Two million demonstrate against the Shah in Iran. The first Susan B. Anthony dollar enters circulation. The Solomon Islands become independent from the United Kingdom. Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Otello makes its first appearance on Live from the Met, in a complete production of the opera starring Jon Vickers. This is the first complete television broadcast of the opera in the U.S. since the historic 1948 one. The video game of the day was Space Invaders.
That was the world you were born into. Since then, you and others have changed it.
The Nobel prize for Literature that year went to Isaac Bashevis Singer. The Nobel Peace prize went to Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat and Menachem Begin. The Nobel prize for physics went to Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa, Arno Allan Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson from Soviet Union and the United States for his basic inventions and discoveries in the area of low-temperature physics. The sensation this created was big. But it didn’t stop the planets from spinning, on and on, year by year. Years in which you would grow bigger, older, smarter, and, if you were lucky, sometimes wiser. Years in which you also lost some things. Possessions got misplaced. Memories faded. Friends parted ways. The best friends, you tried to hold on. This is what counts in life, isn’t it?
The 1970s were indeed a special decade. Women’s liberation continued. The hippie culture faded. There was an opposition to the Vietnam war, and nuclear weapons. The environmentalist movement began. Tom Wolfe coined the decade the “Me decade” due to a new self-awareness. Mao Zedong died and the market began to liberate in China. There was an oil crisis. After the first oil shock, gasoline was rationed in many countries. In Eastern Europe, Soviet-style command economies begin showing signs of stagnation. The Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, witness the kidnapping and murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian Arab terrorists. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The Who, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Bee Gees, Abba and others play their music. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison all die at the age of 27. The space mission Apollo 13 nearly ends in disaster. Egypt signed the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. There was a revolution in Iran. The world sees its first general microprocessor. The C programming language makes its debut. Consumer video games show up on the scene. Microwave ovens become commercially available. Margaret Thatcher was victorious in the UK elections.
Do you remember the movie that was all the rage when you were 15?Sleepless in Seattle. Do you still remember the songs playing on the radio when you were 15? Maybe it was Informer by Snow. Were you in love? Who were you in love with, do you remember?
In 1978, 15 years earlier, a long time ago, the year when you were born, the song Shadow Dancing by Andy Gibb topped the US charts. Do you know the lyrics? Do you know the tune? Sing along.
You got me looking at that heaven in your eyes
I was chasing your direction
I was telling you no lies
And I was loving you
When the words you said
Baby, I lose my head
There’s a kid outside, shouting, playing. It doesn’t care about time. It doesn’t know about time. It shouts and it plays and thinks time is forever. You were once that kid.
When you were 9, the movie The Witches of Eastwick was playing. When you were 8, there was Labyrinth. When you were 7, there was a Disney movie out called The Great Mouse Detective. Does this ring a bell?
6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… it’s 1978. There’s TV noise coming from the second floor. Someone turned up the volume way too high. The sun is burning from above. These were different times. The show playing on TV isThe Incredible Hulk. The sun goes down. Someone switches channels. There’s Tic Tac Dough on now. That’s the world you were born in.
Progress, year after year. Do you wonder where the world is heading towards? The technology available today would have blown your mind in 1978. Do you know what was invented in the year you were born? The Credit-card-sized Calculator. The Solar-powered Calculator. The Spreadsheet.
On Fourth Street in Louisville in 1978
Stranded in a honky-tonk, somwhere ‘tween dates
There was a little band playin’ as I sipped my beer
But I never thought that I’d hear what I’d hear
That’s from the song Son of Clayton Delaney by Tom T. Hall.
In 1978, a new character entered the world of comic books: Iron Cross. Bang! Boom! But that’s just fiction, right? In the real world, in 1978, Katie Holmes was born. And Devon Sawa. Nelly Furtado, too. And you, of course. Everyone an individual. Everyone special. Everyone taking a different path through life.
The world is a different place.