The People History

1950s Important News and Events, Key Technology Fashion and Popular Culture

Fifties Fashions, the peak of the Baby Boomer Years where following the end of the great depression and then World War II people wanted to live a normal life raising a family, teens found rock and roll music and Elvis, parents found more consumer choice and jobs were abundant.
Jump To 1950's Fashions -- Toys -- Cars -- Popular Culture -- Homes -- Technology -- Cost Of Living -- Sports

Money and Inflation 1950's

To provide an estimate of inflation we have given a guide to the value of $100 US Dollars for the first year in the decade to the equivalent in today's money
If you have $100 Converted from 1950 to 2005 it would be equivalent to $835.41 today

In 1950 a new house cost $8,450.00 and by 1959 was $12,400.00 More House Prices
In 1950 the average income per year was $3,210.00 and by 1959 was $5,010.00
In 1950 a gallon of gas was 18 cents and by 1959 was 25 cents
In 1950 the average cost of new car was $1,510.00 and by 1959 was $2,200.00

A few more prices from the 50's and how much things cost
Chrysler New Yorker $4347
1958 Chevrolet Corvette $3631
Men's All Wool Suits $28.90
Square dance Cotton Check Dress $3.29
Electric Portable Singer Sewing Machine $19.90
Ronson Electric Shaver $28.50
Rib Roast 29 cents per pound
Ritz Crackers 32 cents
Rollaway Beds $14.95
Ring 1 carat Diamond $399.00
Mechanical Adding Machine $3.98

What Happened in the 1950s

The events listed below we have tried to put a small paragraph on the specific year page providing additional information )


What Happened in 1950 History
  • The Diner's Club begins issuing the first credit cards.
  • The Korean War begins when North Korea invades South Korea.
  • Famous physicist Albert Einstein warns the world that a nuclear war would lead to mutual destruction.
  • The United States begins the development and production of the hydrogen bomb.
  • The FIFA World Cup is held in Brazil and Uruguay wins the title.

Back In Time Gifts


What Happened in 1951 History
  • "I Love Lucy" premieres on television on the CBS network.
  • DJ Alan Freed coins the term "Rock n' Roll."
  • Libya becomes independent from Italian rule after about forty years.
  • Luis Miramontes develops the first oral contraceptive.
  • The United States ratifies the 22nd amendment, limiting a president to two terms.


What Happened in 1952 History
  • Elizabeth II becomes the Queen of England after her father, George VI, dies.
  • The first hydrogen bomb is successfully detonated by the United States.
  • The Mau Mau Rebellion begins in Kenya as an effort to end the British rule of the country.
  • Puerto Rico is named as a self-governing commonwealth of the U.S.
  • The first issue of the comedy-driven MAD Magazine is published.


What Happened in 1953 History
  • The Double Helix DNA Model is revealed by Francis Crick and James Watson.
  • Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay become the first people to successfully climb to the top of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.
  • Jonas Salk develops the first polio vaccine.
  • The first James Bond novel, "Casino Royale," is published by British author Ian Fleming.
  • Joseph Stalin, the leader of the USSR, dies and is replaced by Nikita Khrushchev.


What Happened in 1954 History
  • The U.S. Supreme Court rules that racial segregation is unconstitutional in public schools in their unanimous decision of Brown v. Board of Education.
  • U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy is censured by the Senate, ending his four year long hunt for Communists within the United States government.
  • Frozen TV Dinners are introduced by Swanson.
  • Ellis Island ceases to be a point of immigration into the U.S. when it officially closes.
  • Roger Bannister becomes the first recorded man to run a mile in under four minutes.


What Happened in 1955 History
  • The popular children's television show "The Mickey Mouse Club" premieres. The Disneyland theme park in California also opened during this year..
  • The Warsaw Pact is signed by the Soviet Union and seven of its satellite countries (Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and Czechoslovakia).
  • Rosa Parks is arrested in Alabama after she refuses to give up her bus seat to a white passenger, sparking the Civil Rights Movement.
  • The McDonald's chain of restaurants is started by Ray Kroc.
  • The United States adds "In God We Trust" to all paper currency.


What Happened in 1956 History
  • The popular musician Elvis Presley has his very first hit song, "Heartbreak Hotel."
  • American Actress Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco.
  • The Suez Crisis begins after Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal.
  • The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 becomes law, allowing for the mass construction of tens of thousands of interstate highways in the U.S.
  • Albert Sabin creates the oral polio vaccine to replace the Salk vaccine.


What Happened in 1957 History
  • The USSR successfully launches Sputnik 1, the very first artificial satellite. They also launch Sputnik 2 later in the year, a satellite that carried the first animal into space.
  • The "Baby Boom" peaks during this year.
  • Nine African-American students enroll at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas and are met with resistance by protesters and the state's governor. Federal troops end up escorting the students into the school at the command of President Eisenhower.
  • The European Economic Community is created when West Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg sign the Treaty of Rome.
  • Malaysia and Ghana gain independence from the United Kingdom.


What Happened in 1958 History
  • The microchip is co-invented by Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby.
  • NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is created.
  • Bobby Fischer, a fourteen-year-old boy, wins the U.S. Chess Championship.
  • The popular children's toy the Hula-Hoop is created by Wham-O.
  • The Great Chinese Famine begins.


What Happened in 1959 History
  • The Cuban revolution ends and Fidel Castro comes to power, creating the first Communist nation in the West.
  • Alaska and Hawaii are admitted as the 49th and 50th states in the U.S.
  • The Soviet Union's Luna 2 spacecraft becomes the first man-made object to touch the surface of the Moon after it crashes.
  • The first astronauts are introduced by NASA ( John H. Glenn, Jr. and Alan Shepard, Jr. ).
  • The St. Lawrence Seaway is completed.

Other Major Events From The 50's

  • The 50's were the time when the shape of the political landscape in the world could be clearly defined between the Soviet dominated East and the capitalist West.
  • The cold war became a grim reality because both sides had the power and technology for a Nuclear holocaust, but equally both knew any war could not truly be won.
  • Following the end of the second world war the economies of the western world boomed which led to the start of a consumer-led economy that seemed to have no bounds .
  • With the forming of the EEC European Economic Community, West Germany enjoyed a growth which exceeded any expectations at the end of the war.
  • Following on to the break up of the British Empire which before had occupied 30% of the globe many fledgling democracies were starting to find their own identities including India Pakistan Rhodesia now ( Zimbabwe ), and having the growing pains that any new democracy would face .
  • During the 50's and following decades more and more of the old colonial empires would be forced to allow allow countries their independence.
  • Following the creation of the new State of Israel there were many conflicts in the middle east which are still occurring to this day. The Suez Crisis in 1956 begins on July 26th as the supply of oil is blocked through the Suez Canal
  • Like Germany in Europe Japan saw massive economic growth by supplying the goods needed for the consumer-led society in both Europe and the United States.

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1950's Mens and Womens and Childrens Fashion Clothes

With the economic boom in the Fifties, glamour become fashionable once again and A-line and pencil skirts were very popular form-fitting fashions. Dresses in the decade would often feature stylish ruffles or lace accents and were usually knee-length or tea-length. Going into the late fifties and 1960s mini-dresses and maxi-length skirt outfits entered the scene. The mid-50's trends in women's fashion changed again. Round-neck styles on sleeveless shirts or long sleeve shirts were popular, as well as polo-necks. Dolman sleeves dominated fashionable tops in the fifties and sixties,
The examples below are from Our new updated Fifties Fashion Section, with examples of Ladies, Mens and Children's Fashion Clothes and Accessory examples including dresses, hats, shoes and much more take a little time to browse through them.
Part of our Ladies Shoes and Hats From The 1950's
Examples of Ladies Shoes From The 50's

Ladies Dresses From The 1950's
Examples of Ladies Dresses From The 1950's

Part of our Collection of Childrens Clothes From the 1950's
Children's Clothing Examples From The 1950s


Childrens Toys From The 1950's

Kids Toys From the 50s
Childrens toys offered a much wider range following the boom in babies born, but toys were very much gender designed with dolls, prams, dressmaking for girls toys and Cowboys and indians, cars and construction sets for boys. Kids Toy Examples From The 1950s


Fifties Cars

Cars From the 50s
Cadillac Convertible 1959
Tailfins the ultimate car with tailfins produced by Cadillac with the chrome to go with it and a 325 Horsepower engine and power anything and everything Prices From $5,400
1958 Nash Metropolitan
The Metropolitan foreign small car with sports car flavor Prices From $1,626
Aerocar 1951
The car with the built in freeway This seemed like a good idea , wonder why it never caught on Prices From $10,000
Austin Healey 1958
Powerful twin Carb, 102 HP, Hydraulic Brakes, 4 speed synchromesh transmission 2 occasional rear seats Prices From $3,400


Sporting Changes In The 50's

Our Detailed Sports History Section
New York teams rule 50s baseball with the Yankees, Giants and Dodgers
The game spreads with whole teams being relocated to other parts of the country including Boston Braves to Milwaukee and New York Giants to San Francisco
Television begins broadcasting live games and unlike Radio a decade before had a negative impact on attendance
Chuck Cooper drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1950, becomes the first black player in the NBA.
24-second shot clock Introduced in Pro Game In 1954 forcing a team to shoot it within that 24 seconds, or give the ball to the other team.
Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain dominate the game winning 8 out of 10 MVP trophy's from 1958 to 1968
Association Football (Soccer)
Following the end of World War II the game takes center stage in 1950 with the first world cup since 1938 held in Brazil where Uruguay won the world cup again.
Attendance at British soccer matches Skyrocket with 30 million going to stadiums around the UK.
American Football
Television Helps Gain New Fans to NFL but decreases local atendence
Cleveland Browns Make Big Impact ON NFL winning Three NFL Championship games
Ice Hockey
Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs Dominate The Decade
Televised hockey Takes Off
Zamboni ice-smoothing tractor Used For First Time
Facemask For goaltenders introduced


  • First oral contraceptive ( the Pill )invented by Luis E. Miramontes
  • The Soviet Union launches Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth. and so starts the space race and man's exploration of our solar system

Inventions The Year Invented Inventors and Country ( or attributed to First Use )

Atomic Clock ----- 1955 England
Breeder Reactor ----- 1951 USA Converted Uranium to Plutonium
Computer Modem ----- 1958 USA
Credit Card ----- 1950 USA by Ralph Schneider
Hovercraft ----- 1955 England by Christopher Cockerell
Hydrogen Bomb ----- 1952 USA by Edward Teller's team
Lunar Probe ----- 1959 Russia Lunik I passed the Moon;
Lunar Probe ----- 1959 Russia Lunik II crashed on the Moon;
Lunar Probe ----- 1959 Russia Lunik III photographed the far side of the Moon
Microchip ----- 1958 USA by Jack Kilby
Nuclear Power ----- 1956 England First power station at Calder Hall
Robot ----- 1954 USA by George C Devol Jr
Satellite ----- 1957 Russia Sputnik I
Solar Cell ----- 1954 USA Or Photovoltaic cells
Transistor Radio ----- 1953 USA Texas Instruments
Video Recorder ----- 1956 USA
Video Tape ----- 1956 USA

Popular Culture 1950s

Popular Culture in the 50's can be captured in just a few words which speak volumes. "The Cold War", "Baby Boomers" , "Korea" , "The Red Scare",. This was the decade where people built Bomb Shelters, had babies and the news was filled with what the reds were doing or going to do.

50s Music

The other important change was in how teenagers were viewed up until the 50's teenagers were just children and were treated as such the 50's and future decades changed that where teenagers became an important section of society when politicians and others realized teenagers would very quickly become voters and consumers and a new generation of pop stars including Elvis Presley were created whose main target audience was teenagers.

From Our 50's Music Section

As the radio had done in the 20's providing the masses with news and entertainment so the TV did in the fifties originally broadcasting in black and white but later in color

This was also a time of great affluence after the depression years and the World Wars consumerism took off in a big way which in turn created jobs and wealth and a circle of growth

Following on from black men joining the forces and fighting for their country , a change was needed to treat this section of society equally " they had fought for their country " and should be treated as equals, and the battle for civil rights began

  • The frozen "french fries" were invented by the JR Simplot company in the early 50's and up till the time McDonalds still peeled, cut and prepared fries on the premises
  • A common name termed for people born in the 50's are the baby boomers . ( after the depression in the 30's and the world war in the 40's ) people felt confident enough to have children and an explosion in the population occurred.

TV Shows

  • Perry Mason 1957 - 1966. Perry Mason played by actor Raymond Burr.
  • Rawhide 1959 - 1966. Starring Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood.
  • The Phil Silvers Show 1955 - 1959. with US Army master sergeant Ernest G. Bilko played by Phil Silvers.
  • Lassie 1954 - 1973.
  • The Lone Ranger 1949 - 1954.
  • Bonanza 1959 - 1973.
  • 77 Sunset Strip 1958 - 1964.
  • The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin 1954 - 1959.
  • Gunsmoke 1955 - 1975.
  • The Twilight Zone ( Original Series ) 1959 - 1964.
Some of the Most Well Known Movie Stars of the Fifties
Gary Cooper
Bing Crosby
Bob Hope
John Wayne
James Stewart
Frank Sinatra
Marilyn Monroe
William Holden

Fifties Homes

Example of a home from 50's

1951 River Frontage Lot Sheboygan Wisconsin 1 1/2 Acres River front plot on Sheboygan River $750

Electrical Home Goods
Following the end of the war a mini consumer boom followed with the baby boom, new homes and improved wealth for the working man a boom in electrical appliances and gadgets followed for TV's, Washing Machines, fridges, music players and more.
From Our 1950's Home Appliances Page

Homes and Furniture From The Fifties
As new homes were built furniture was needed to fill them and with the restrictions ended on use of raw materials and a feeling of calm and prosperity, plus the acailabilty of new materials new furniture became bright and functional,
From Our 1950's Home Furnishing Page