The other day, a friend of mine mailed me this link: http://whathappenedinmybirthyear.com/
As you can guess, the idea is simple. You key in the year of your birth and they tell you what happened that year.
I keyed in 1976. Here’s what they said:
In 1976, the world was a different place.
There was no Google yet. Or Yahoo.
In 1976, the year of your birth, the top selling movie was Rocky. People buying the popcorn in the cinema lobby had glazing eyes when looking at the poster.
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 Rocky. The Oscar for best foreign movie that year went to Black and White in Color. The top actor was Peter Finch for his role as Howard Beale in Network. The top actress was Faye Dunaway for her role as Diana Christensen in Network. The best director? John G. Avildsen for Rocky.
In the year 1976, 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 was Trinity by Leon Uris. Oh, that's many years ago. Have you read that book? Have you heard of it? Look at the cover!
In 1976... the first commercial Concorde flight takes off. The trial against jailed members of the Red Army Faction begins in Stuttgart, West Germany. The United States vetoes a United Nations resolution that calls for an independent Palestinian state. Western Sahara declares independence. General Murtala Mohammed of Nigeria is assassinated in a military coup. The first 4.6 miles of the Washington Metro subway system opens. Apple Computer Company is formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. As a measure to curb population growth, the minimum age for marriage in India is raised to 21 years for men and 18 years for women. The Eurovision Song Contest 1976 is won by Brotherhood of Man, representing the United Kingdom, with their song Save Your Kisses for Me. The chimes of Big Ben stopped when part of the chiming mechanism disintegrated through metal fatigue. The Viking 2 spacecraft lands at Utopia Planitia on Mars, taking the first close-up color photos of the planet's surface. The video game of the day was Breakout.
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 Saul Bellow. The Nobel Peace prize went to Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan. The Nobel prize for physics went to Burton Richter and Samuel Chao Chung Ting from the United States for their pioneering work in the discovery of a heavy elementary particle of a new kind. 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? The Silence of the Lambs. Do you still remember the songs playing on the radio when you were 15? Maybe it was I've Been Thinking About You by Londonbeat. Were you in love? Who were you in love with, do you remember?
In 1976, 15 years earlier, a long time ago, the year when you were born, the song Don't Go Breaking My Heart by Elton John and Kiki Dee topped the US charts. Do you know the lyrics? Do you know the tune? Sing along.
You take the weight off me
Honey when you knock on my door
I gave you my key
Nobody knows it
When I was down
I was your clown
Nobody knows it
Right from the start
I gave you my heart
I gave you my heart
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 Return to Oz was playing. When you were 8, there was The Karate Kid. When you were 7, there was a Disney movie out called The Fox and the Hound. Does this ring a bell?
6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... it's 1976. 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 is The Bionic Woman. The sun goes down. Someone switches channels. There's Laverne & Shirley 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 1976. Do you know what was invented in the year you were born? The Gore-Tex Fabric. Perpendicular Recording. Polyphony.
We better keep all remembering this land now.
This land full of people bent
On gettin' their kicks Lord, Lord.
I think we all better pick up the sticks.
That's from the song 1976 by Grand Funk Railroad.
In 1976, a new character entered the world of comic books: Captain Britain. Bang! Boom! But that's just fiction, right? In the real world, in 1976, Melissa Joan Hart was born. And Scott Caan. Colin Farrell, too. And you, of course. Everyone an individual. Everyone special. Everyone taking a different path through life.
The world is a different place.
What path have you taken?