Way Back Wednesday – 60 Years of Life on Earth


Phil LightedI’m 60 today!  

Sadly it’s the end of my 60th year and not the beginning of it – but that’s how birthday’s work, they are anniversaries that celebrate the fact that you made it through another year.  My daughters are 23 and 21 and I want to impress upon them, and you, how much has changed in such a short portion of human history.   

It is only by looking back that we can clearly see what lies ahead:  




1966:  (I apologize but Bing seems to output random formats each time): 

  • Social: The year 1966 saw the rise of various social movements and protests in the United States and around the world. Some of the notable events include the Black Panther Party’s founding in Oakland, California; the National Organization for Women’s formation in Washington, D.C.; the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations at the University of California, Berkeley; and the Cultural Revolution in China. The year also marked the debut of popular television shows such as Star Trek, Batman, and The Monkees.
  • Technology: The year 1966 witnessed several technological innovations and achievements in various fields. Some of the examples are the launch of Luna 9, the first spacecraft to soft-land on the moon; the introduction of the first handheld calculator by Texas Instruments; the development of ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet; and the invention of Kevlar, a synthetic fiber with high strength and heat resistance.
  • Political: The year 1966 was a turbulent one for politics in many countries. Some of the major events include the resignation of British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and his replacement by Edward Heath; the coup d’etat in Ghana that ousted President Kwame Nkrumah; the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War between the federal government and the secessionist state of Biafra; and the escalation of the Vietnam War with increased U.S. military involvement and casualties.
  • Consumer goods: The year 1966 saw the emergence and popularity of various consumer goods and trends. Some of them are the release of Barbie’s boyfriend Ken doll by Mattel; the introduction of Gatorade, a sports drink invented by University of Florida researchers; the debut of Twister, a game that became a sensation among young people; and the popularity of miniskirts, a fashion item that symbolized youth culture and sexual liberation.


  • Social: The year 1967 was marked by social unrest and cultural change in many parts of the world. Some of the notable events include the Summer of Love, a countercultural phenomenon that celebrated peace, love, and music in San Francisco; the Six-Day War, a conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors that reshaped the Middle East; the Detroit Riot, one of the deadliest and most destructive urban riots in U.S. history; and the Thurgood Marshall’s confirmation as the first African American Supreme Court justice.
  • Technology: The year 1967 saw several technological breakthroughs and achievements in various fields. Some of the examples are the first human heart transplant performed by Dr. Christiaan Barnard in South Africa; the launch of ATS-3, the first satellite to transmit color television signals; the development of the first handheld electronic game by Mattel; and the invention of the first ATM by John Shepherd-Barron in London.
  • Political: The year 1967 was a turbulent one for politics in many countries. Some of the major events include the assassination of Che Guevara, a revolutionary leader and icon, by Bolivian forces; the devaluation of the British pound sterling and the resignation of Chancellor of the Exchequer James Callaghan; the referendum on Quebec’s sovereignty that resulted in a majority vote for staying in Canada; and the adoption of UN Resolution 242, calling for a peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
  • Consumer goods: The year 1967 saw the emergence and popularity of various consumer goods and trends. Some of them are the release of The Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, widely regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time; the introduction of Pringles, a brand of potato crisps with a distinctive shape and packaging; the debut of The Jungle Book, an animated film by Walt Disney based on Rudyard Kipling’s stories; and the popularity of mood rings, a novelty item that changed color according to body temperature.


  • Social: A year of turmoil and change in the United States, marked by the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and widespread social unrest. The civil rights movement gave rise to combative and angry black power advocates, while the feminist movement and the sexual revolution challenged traditional gender roles and norms. A generation gap emerged between young people and their parents over values, lifestyles, and politics123.
  • Technology: A year of scientific and technological achievements, such as NASA’s Apollo 8 orbiting the moon and Boeing’s 747 jumbo jet’s first flight. Television became the dominant medium of communication and entertainment, with color TV sets becoming more affordable and popular. The birth control pill enabled new sexual freedom for women. ARPANET, the precursor of the internet, was developed by the Department of Defense123.
  • Political: A year of political upheaval and uncertainty, as President Lyndon B. Johnson announced he would not seek reelection amid growing opposition to his Vietnam War policy. The Democratic Party was divided between anti-war and pro-war factions, while the Republican Party nominated Richard Nixon as its presidential candidate. Nixon campaigned on a platform of restoring law and order and appealing to the silent majority of Americans who felt alienated by the social and cultural changes of the decade. Nixon narrowly defeated Democrat Hubert Humphrey and independent George Wallace in a close election123.
  • Consumer goods: A year of consumerism and innovation, as Americans enjoyed a high standard of living and a variety of new products and services. Some consumer goods that became popular or were introduced in 1968 include smoke detectors for home use, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Barbie dolls, color television sets, microwave ovens, cassette tapes, video games, and personal computers.

1969 (Mets!): 

Microwave ovens?  (I have decided to comment at the end of each decade)  I don’t remember them until the late 70s.  I guess there’s a gap between inventing and in your kitchen.  I had to check on Computers and yes, Honeywell released the H316 “Kitchen Computer” for $10,600 – apparently it was more like a concept car – never happened.  

So I’m 7.  We had a black and white TV in the living room and that was it.  Nobody really watched it but me anyway.  I loved the Partridge Family, Columbo, Pink Panther, Spider Man, Speed Racer (who was also Kimba!) Sesame Street (not Mr Rogers, NEVER the Electric Company or Zoom), Laugh In, Dragnet, the Brady Bunch, the Odd Couple, Twilight Zone, I Love Lucy and the Honeymooners.  

I know I had lots of Hot Wheels with tracks and everything.  I had Lite-Brite and Etch-A-Sketch which I would endlessly play with.  Mostly I read books (can’t see how I had time with all those TV shows) and I wasn’t into sports yet but climbed every climbable tree in the neighborhood.  

We saw every movie (my Parents’ friend owned a theater) – even ones I was probably too young for.  I loved science fiction.  My prize possession was a Close & Play and my first records (thanks Mom) were “Sugar Sugar”, “Down on the Corner”, “Proud Mary”,  “Crocodile Rock”, “Rocket Man”, “Coconut”, “The Night Chicago Died”, “Ruby Tuesday”, “Jumpin Jack Flask” “Joy to the World”, “Bad Moon Rising”, “I Can See for Miles”, “I’m a Believer”, “Hey Jude”, “Lady Madonna”, “Mrs Robinson”, “Bridge over Troubled Water”, “Born to be Wild”, “Magic Carpet Ride”, “Aquarius”…  Very eclectic.  My brother liked kids songs but I never did – too much repetition – though I sang this song to my kids well over 1,000 times:  

Remember hiss?  That and skips and scratches.  This is why I ran out to get the first Sony Discman for $500 (my car was $800) – music was always a huge part of my life (I had a Nakamichi tape player too!).  Then I joined Columbia House about 20 times to build up my disc collection – but that’s a story for the next decade… 

1970:  I Think I Love You (these are my favorites at the time)  

  • Social: The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, raising awareness of environmental issues. Source Women’s liberation groups staged protests and strikes for equal rights and opportunities. Source The Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970, sparked nationwide outrage and demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Source
  • Technology: The first video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey, was released in 1972. Source The first microprocessor, the Intel 4004, was invented in 1970 and paved the way for personal computers. Source The first email was sent in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson. Source
  • Political: President Richard Nixon announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam and the expansion of the war into Cambodia in 1970. Source He also visited China in 1972 and signed the SALT I treaty with the Soviet Union. Source The Watergate scandal began in 1972 with the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Source
  • Consumer goods: Color TVs, video games, microwave ovens and cassette tapes were some of the popular consumer goods of 1970. Source Franchising also increased and offered standardized products and services across locations. Some examples of successful franchises in the 1970s were McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Holiday Inn and Hertz. Source

1971: Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves

  • Social: The 26th Amendment was ratified in 1971, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. Source The National Women’s Political Caucus was founded in 1971 to increase women’s participation in politics and government. Source The Attica prison riot in 1971 exposed the brutal conditions and racial discrimination in the U.S. prison system. Source
  • Technology: Intel introduced the first microprocessor chip, the 4004, in 1971, which enabled the development of personal computers and other electronic devices. Source Ray Tomlinson sent the first email in 1971, using the @ symbol to separate the user name from the host name. Source The first floppy disk was invented by IBM in 1971, allowing data to be stored and transferred between computers. Source
  • Political: President Richard Nixon announced his new policy of détente with the Soviet Union and China in 1971, easing Cold War tensions and opening diplomatic relations. Source The Pentagon Papers were leaked to the press in 1971, revealing the secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam and undermining public trust in the government. Source The War Powers Act was passed by Congress in 1971, limiting the president’s ability to wage war without congressional approval. Source
  • Consumer goods: The first Starbucks coffee shop opened in Seattle in 1971, offering high-quality coffee beans and equipment. Source The first pocket calculator, the Busicom LE-120A Handy-LE, was introduced in Japan in 1971, making calculations easier and more portable. Source The first VCR, the Philips N1500, was launched in Europe in 1971, allowing consumers to record and play back television programs. Source

1972:  Crocodile Rock

  • Social: The Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress in 1972, proposing to guarantee equal rights for women under the Constitution. Source The Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 was signed into law, prohibiting sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities. Source The first gay pride parades were held in several U.S. cities in 1972, commemorating the anniversary of the Stonewall riots of 1969. Source
  • Technology: The first handheld scientific calculator, the HP-35, was introduced by Hewlett-Packard in 1972, revolutionizing engineering and mathematics. Source The first video game console with interchangeable cartridges, the Atari 2600, was released in 1972, allowing users to play a variety of games on their TVs. Source The first email program with the ability to send messages to multiple recipients, SNDMSG, was developed by Ray Tomlinson in 1972. Source
  • Political: President Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, ending 25 years of diplomatic isolation and opening the door for trade and cultural exchanges. Source The Watergate scandal escalated in 1972, when five men were arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters and it was revealed that they had ties to Nixon’s reelection campaign. Source The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) resulted in two agreements signed by Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1972, limiting the number and deployment of nuclear weapons by both sides. Source
  • Consumer goods: The first digital watch, the Hamilton Pulsar P1, was launched in 1972, featuring a red LED display and a futuristic design. Source The first home video game system with realistic graphics, the Magnavox Odyssey 100, was released in 1972, offering two games: tennis and hockey. Source The first mass-produced frozen yogurt, called Frogurt, was introduced by Dannon in 1972, offering a low-fat alternative to ice cream. Source

1973:  Little Willy / Heartbreaker / Do you Feel Like We Do

Yes, I know, Bing insanely switches presentation styles – I could not get him to stay consistent.  

1974:  Hooked on a Feeling  / The Night Chicago Died (I cannot decide, but Hooked is my ring-tone)

1975:  Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds (my Grandma’s name was Lucy, she wore diamonds) / Slip Kid (I’m a soldier at 13!) / Fame 

1976 (Bar-Mitzvoh):  Afternoon Delight / Take the Money and Run 

1977: Blue Bayou / The Stranger / Gold Dust Woman / Bat out of Hell / Songs from the Wood

1978 (Car!): Who Are You (Recorded at my Uncle’s studio!)/ You Really Got Me / Because the Night

1979 (16! / High School):  Tusk! / London Calling / My Sharona / Discovering Japan / Is She Really Going Out With Him /Hell is for Children

I never thought I’d say this but Tipper Gore was kind of right.  She was all kooky about banning “bad music” but when I consider the songs we grew up with (and there were way less choices) to the songs my kids grow up with – I can’t imagine that doesn’t have a profound affect on your childhood development.  All the songs of my generation were about Love and Peace and everyday life.  Songs today are Greed and Lust and generally devoid of story.  

It’s the same with TV and movies.  If you are my age, you remember Dirty Harry as a violent movie but watch it now and it’s only a notch over Bambi compared to what we have now…  Maybe I’m just getting old?  

I went from reading the comics to Doonesbury to reading the papers for Watergate coverage (and I had a paper route in 1973 so I always got the news first!) to reading “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail” to reading Rolling Stone and Playboy (I actually did read the article – too).  My brother worked at a magazine store and brought me home piles of stuff and I read and read and read.  I also cut out the pictures and, by the time I was in High School, every inch of my room was covered in mostly rock and roll pictures but also other people and things I found interesting over the year – I guess that’s why I am a reflective person…  

Franchising! (1970) – How much did that change out lives?  Not really for the better I think.  My Dad was a Systems Analyst and he had a computer the size of a refrigerator in the house with one of those phone-coupler modems.  It got so hot your could fry an egg on it but we could call NASA and play Pong and Lunar Lander and it only got better from there – whatever new came out – my Dad got it.   By the end of the 70s I was selling computers – one of the go-to geeks, in fact!  

18 year-olds could be drafted but couldn’t vote, women were second-class citizens (but at least they couldn’t be drafted), racism was still endemic… funny how you forget those things were “normal” back then.  Nixon went to China but we still hated Russia.  Abortion used to be illegal (oops!).  Income was $12,900 in 1973 and a house was $32,500 – not even 3x income.  That right there is the worst thing that’s changed in the past 50 years. 

Baseball!  My parents divorced in 1970 and my Dad first lived in the Village (fantastic!) and then Queens, where there was the Science Museum and Shea Stadium, so we went to a lot of Mets games (I liked the Science Museum too) – and we did lots of stuff in NYC.  The Mets won in ’69 and won the NLCS in ’73 but in 1977 they traded Tom Seaver and I was pissed at them for many years after.  










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