Significant events and issues that created national concern in the 1970s prevail and are still relevant decades later. Congressional laws enacted in the 1970s helped form how the United States operates at national and international levels. Medical and technological breakthroughs of the 1970s have helped create the cultural standards of living. Historical hindsight provides an opportunity to ponder whether events were actually major events of the time or if the events gained status and importance over time.
Government and International Relations
The United States' lengthy involvement in Vietnam ended in 1973. The Vietnam War led to the War Powers Act that requires congressional approval for the president to engage U.S. forces in combat for more than 60 days. The Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 devastated Afghanistan and left the country vulnerable to extremist groups, such as the Taliban. The United States supported Taliban efforts to overthrow the Soviet Union and helped the organisation gain power, as reported by the website Madre. In 1979 the Ayatollah Khomeini introduced Islamic Law and declared the United States an enemy to Islam. This sentiment created the events that led to the Iranian Hostage Crisis, setting the tone for United States relations with Islamic nations.
The Oil Crisis
By 1973 the United States had depleted almost all internal oil reserves and was dependent on foreign oil. Egypt and Syria invaded Israel on October 6, 1973. The United States supported Israel. Arab nations and Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, attacked the United States with an oil embargo and raised oil costs to the United States. The oil crises led to creating the Alaskan pipeline and reducing the national speed limit to 55mph on highways and freeways.
The first successful test tube baby was born in England in 1978. In vitro fertilisation revolutionised reproductive health by allowing individuals who are not able to conceive naturally to still be able to have children of their own. Developments in ultrasound technology advanced throughout the 1970s. Ultrasound allows doctors to estimate size and weight, monitor foetus development and determine the baby's sex. People no longer have to wait and see if they will have a healthy boy or girl.
Computer and Entertainment Technology
The microprocessor or microchip introduced in 1971 launched the computer era. Microsoft was founded in 1975 and the first Apple Computer debuted in 1976. The floppy disc, also introduced in 1971, completely changed data storage and retrieval methods. The first video game, Pong, was released in 1972. The VHS, or video home system, debuted in 1975 and became the format of choice until DVD technology took over around the turn of the century. The Sony Walkman was introduced 1979. Inventions and advancements in computer and entertainment technology changed American culture and how Americans live.