The People History

What Happened in 1968 Important News and Events, Key Technology and Popular Culture

What happened in 1968 Major News Stories include Dr. Christian Barnard performs the first successful heart transplant, Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. , The first Big Mac goes on sale in McDonalds costing 49 cents, Boeing 747 made its maiden flight, Emergency 911 Telephone service is started in the USA, Hong Kong Flu pandemic, The Poor Peoples March on Washington, D.C, Vietnam US soldiers massacre men, women and children in My lai, Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia

Jump To 1968 Fashion -- World Leaders -- 1968 Calendar -- 1968 Technology -- Cost Of Living -- Popular Culture -- Toys

Cost of Living 1968

How Much things cost in 1968
Yearly Inflation Rate USA 4.27%
Yearly Inflation Rate UK 4.7%
Year End Dow Jones Industrial Average 943
Average Cost of new house $14,950.00
Average Income per year $7,850.00
Average Monthly Rent $130.00
Gas per Gallon 34 cents
Average Cost of a new car $2,822.00
Movie Ticket$1.50
The Federal Hourly Minimum Wage is $1.60 an hour
Below are some Prices for UK guides in Pounds Sterling
Average House Price 4,344
Gallon of Petrol 5 shillings 5 pence or 28 new pence


1968 In both Europe and America Japanese imported cars and other goods were continuing to rise and trouble the governments of UK and USA as they worried about industries in their own countries being effected and jobs lost. In the spring of 1968 on 4th April The Rev Martin Luther King was assassinated and Robert Kennedy was mortally wounded when he is shot by Sirhan Sirhan. The peace movement had continued to grow and more and more Americans were against the war in Vietnam, and once again more riots occurred throughout cities in America. The music scene was once again set by the "Beatles" and the "Rolling Stones" , and fashion flirted with see through blouses and midis and maxis skirts joined the Mini Skirt as part of the fashion trends. There is a Flu Pandemic in Hong Kong and the first Black power salute is seen on Television worldwide during an Olympics medal ceremony

Czechoslovakia -- Prague Spring

  • The Soviet Union invades Czechoslovakia and arrests President Dubcek
More Information and Timeline For Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia
1. January 5th Alexander Dubcek becomes the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
2. April 5th Alexander Dubcek and the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia call for the acknowledgment of individual liberties, the introduction of political and economic reforms, and a change in the structure of the nation. "Action Programme"
3. April 5th "Action Programme" includes proposed reforms to limit the power of the secret police and formal abolishment of censorship
4. June 26th Following formal abolishment of censorship anti-Soviet editorials appear in the press
5. August 20th and 21st Eastern Bloc armies consisting of 200,000 troops and 2,000 tanks from four Warsaw Pact countries - the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary invade Czechoslovakia / CSSR
6. August 21 Dubcek and other reformers are taken into Soviet custody and flown to Moscow
7. August 26th Dubcek and other reformers accede to Soviet demands and sign the Moscow protocols promising to protect socialism in Czechoslovakia
8. August 28th Dubcek and most of the reformers were returned to Prague
Dubcek was forced to resign as first secretary in April 1969 and for the next few years a process of Normalization which included the Removal of reforms implemented in 1968 and those who had been instrumental in the reforms from the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, mass media, judiciary, social and mass organizations. Economic enterprises, which had been given substantial independence during the Prague Spring were bought back into centralized control. Freedom of the Press Act revoked etc.

United States -- Assassination Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Leader of Negro Civil Rights Movement is killed by James Earl Ray which leads to Violence and Race Riots in US Cities
More Information and Timeline For The Life and Death Martin Luther King Jr.
1. 1929 January 15th Born in Atlanta, Georgia, United States
2. 1948 Graduated from Morehouse College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology
3. 1951 Graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania
4. 1953 June 18th Marries Coretta Scott on the lawn of her parents' house in her hometown of Heiberger, Alabama
5. 1954 Martin Luther King Jr. becomes pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama
6. 1955 Following the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat to make room for a white passenger Martin Luther King Jr. leads the Montgomery Bus Boycott which lasted for 385 days to oppose the city's policy of racial segregation on its public transit system.
7. 1957 Martin Luther King Jr. becomes president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
8. 1959 Martin Luther King Jr. visits Gandhi's birthplace in India where he affirms his commitment to non-violent resistance and America's struggle for civil rights.
7. 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr. leads a nonviolent direct action protest in Birmingham, Alabama to defy discrimination laws they considered unfair.
8. 1963 August 28th King, representing SCLC, was among the leaders of the so-called "Big Six" civil rights organizations who were instrumental in the organization of March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, it was the largest political rally for human rights in United States history .
9. 1963 August 28th Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech advocating racial harmony at the Lincoln Memorial to an estimated crowd of 250,000
10. 1965 March 25th Martin Luther King, Jr. at the end of the third Selma to Montgomery march delivered the speech "How Long, Not Long." on the steps of the State Capitol Building to a crowd of 25,000
11. 1967 April 4th Martin Luther King, Jr. during a speech at the New York City Riverside Church spoke strongly against the U.S.'s role in the war, insisting that the U.S. was in Vietnam "to occupy it as an American colony"
12. 1967 After his speech against the Vietnam War many supporters of Martin Luther King, Jr. including President Johnson, union leaders and powerful media publishers began to line up against him.
13. 1968 April 4th Martin Luther King, Jr. is shot and killed by James Earl Ray
The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., leader of the Civil Rights Movement, takes place in April of 1968 when he was killed by James Earl Ray. King's assassination leads to violence and race riots in U.S. cities.


United States -- Senator Robert Kennedy Assassinated

U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, also known as Bobby Kennedy or RFK, was assassinated at the age of 42 on June 5th. Kennedy was shot three times by Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He had just finished giving a speech after his victory in California’s presidential primary. Senator Kennedy died the following day and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia near the grave of his brother, President John F. Kennedy who had been assassinated on November 22 News Events, 1963. Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death in 1969, his sentence was later commuted to life in prison.


United Kingdom - Anti-Vietnam Protests

Anti-Vietnam war demonstrations turn violent during March in London, England. Between 8,000 and 10,000 protesters marched from Trafalgar Square to the United States Embassy in Grosvenor Square. According to attendees, the initial mood of the gathering was positive but quickly turned violent when they encountered hundreds of police surrounding the embassy. About 200 people were arrested during the riots and between 80 and 100 people, including several police, were injured.


United States -- Intel Corporation is created

  • The Intel Corporation is created by Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce.
More Information for the founding of Intel.
The Intel Corporation was founded in Santa Clara, California during July . Engineers Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce created the company after receiving $2.5 million in funding from venture capitalist and financier Arthur Rock. Noyce and Moore set out to build a company that could make and develop semiconductor computer circuits like the ones they had invented at their former employer, Fairchild Semiconductor, in the 1950's. Intel began producing memory chips as their primary product with great success until their engineers created the first microprocessor in 1971, changing the course of technology and computing forever. Since then, Intel has been one of the top companies in the world and has remained a leading innovator.

NASA’s Apollo 7 Mission Launches

NASA launches the Apollo 7 mission on October 11th. It was the first manned mission in the Apollo program which was created with the ultimate goal of landing a man on the Moon. The purpose of the mission was to test out the command and service module (CSM). It launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and carried astronauts Walter Schirra, Donn Eisele, and R. Walter Cunningham around the Earth’s orbit 163 times. The flight lasted 10 days and 20 hours and it was the first mission to complete a live television broadcast.


NASA’s Apollo 8 Mission Launches

NASA’s Apollo 8 space mission was launched on December 21st. It was the first manned mission to leave Earth’s orbit, orbit the Moon, and return to Earth safely. The crew consisted of Frank Borman, James Lovell Jr., and William Anders. It was also the first manned mission to launch from the Kennedy Space Center. The crew successfully landed in the Northern Pacific Ocean after just over six days in space. Apollo 8 was most well-known for the live television broadcast made by the astronauts on Christmas eve. The mission was a critical step in the process to land a man on the Moon.


United States - Surveyor 7 Lunar Lander

NASA launches the final Surveyor mission, Surveyor 7 on January 7th. The mission objectives for Surveyor 7 were to achieve a soft landing on the surface of the Moon in the highland area, photograph the area after landing, test the chemical composition of the soil, and gather data related to the mechanics of the landing. The spacecraft was successful in its landing and achieved its mission objectives. The surveyor program was overall successful as well, providing the necessary data to determine the feasibility of a manned Moon mission.


United Kingdom -- Beatles "White Album"

  • The Beatles release the "White Album" to mixed reviews.
More Information and Timeline for The Beatles White Album
On November 22nd the popular rock band the Beatles released the "White Album," an untitled double album that featured some of the legendary band's most experimental music. Many of the songs were written when the band was in Rishikesh, India while they were attending a meditation camp. While the album received mixed reviews at the time, it still reached the number one spot on the music charts in both the United Kingdom and United States. Modern critics mark the album as on of the best albums ever created and it remains popular today.


France -- Winter Olympics

  • The Winter Olympics are held in Grenoble, France.
More Information for the Grenoble Winter Olympics
The Winter Olympic Games are held in Grenoble, France during the month of February . These gamed marked the tenth time the Winter Olympics took place and were the first Winter Games to be broadcast in color on television. The 1968 Winter Olympics also marked the first time they did gender testing and doping tests during the winter games. It was also the first time that a country other than the Soviet Union won the most medals since the USSR's first games in 1956 with Norway taking home the most medals of the 37 competing nations.

US Presidential Conventions

1. US political parties hold their conventions to formally choose presidential candidates during August.
2. The Democratic National Convention is marked by violence as rioting erupts live on television after police are given orders by Chicago Mayor Daley to forcefully disperse peaceful anti-Vietnam war protesters.
3. During the convention, Democrats had limited options as President Lyndon B. Johnson decided not to run and candidate Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in June.
4. They chose sitting Vice President Hubert Humphrey as the Presidential nominee and Senator Edmund S. Muskie for Vice President.
5. In a more muted affair, the Republican National Convention was held in Miami Beach.
6. The Republican delegates chose Richard M. Nixon, former Vice President under Eisenhower, as the presidential nominee and Spiro T. Agnew, Governor of Maryland, as the Vice Presidential nominee.


Soviet Union - Zond 5 Space Mission

The Soviet Union launches the Zond 5 space mission during September. The unmanned spacecraft became the first to circle the Moon and successfully return to Earth intact. It was also the first mission to carry life to the Moon and back. There were various forms of life on board the spacecraft including wine flies, mealworms, plants, bacteria, and two tortoises. The creatures survived the nearly week-long journey. Later in the year the United States would successfully complete the Apollo 8 mission which carried Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders to orbit the Moon and return to Earth as the first humans to travel beyond the orbit of the Earth.


France -- Students and Workers General Strike

  • 800,000 teachers, workers and student protesters marched through the French capital during a one day general strike
More Information for General Strike in France
French students begin protesting France's university system and limited job opportunities during May . After a series of conflicts between the students and the police, millions of French workers joined the students in a general strike to show solidarity. The students called for reforms to the economy and the protests brought the entire country to a halt. President Charles de Gaulle tried to negotiate with the protesters and eventually dissolved the National Assembly to call for new elections to be held in June. The protests eventually waned after a few weeks but they were able to achieve some of their goals including the passage of an education reform law for students and better wages and work conditions for workers.


More News and Key Events From 1968

Civil Rights Act of 1968
  • Following the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968

Winter Olympic Games
  • The Winter Olympic Games are held in Grenoble, France

Anti Vietnam War protests
  • Anti Vietnam War protests throughout the western world

Tet offensive
  • North Vietnam and Viet Cong troops launch the Tet offensive

My lai
  • Vietnam US soldiers massacre men, women and children in My lai

North Vietnam
  • President Lyndon Johnson orders an end to the bombing of North Vietnam

RMS Queen Elizabeth
  • RMS Queen Elizabeth - retired from service

Dutch Elm Disease
  • Dutch Elm Disease continues to increase with tens of thousands of trees now destroyed

UK - First Class Post
  • British Post office introduces First Class Post

  • China celebrates 20 years of communist rule by Mao Tse-tung

Senator Robert Kennedy
  • Senator Robert Kennedy is assassinated on June 5th by Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles

Earthquake in Sicily -
  • Earthquake in Sicily - 231 dead, 262 injured.

Enoch Powell
  • Enoch Powell's delivers his "Rivers of Blood" anti immigration speech

race relations act
  • The new wide ranging race relations act goes into force

Heart transplant
  • The Third Heart transplant is performed in South Africa By Dr Christian N Barnard

London Bridge
  • London Bridge sold for 1 million. and later re-erected in Arizona .

President Johnson
  • President Johnson announces on nationwide television he would not run for another term of office

Redwood National Park
  • The Redwood National Park is created in California to protect the Giant Redwoods.

contraceptive pill
  • Pope Paul VI bans Catholics from using the contraceptive pill for birth control

The Poor Peoples March
  • 50,000 people participated in " The Poor Peoples March " on June 19th Washington, D.C.

Population 455 million Europe
  • Population in Europe reaches 455 million ( excluding USSR )

Kray twins
  • The Kray twins, arrested for the murders of George Cornell and Jack 'The Hat' McVitie, members of the London underworld.

Zodiac serial murderer
  • The Zodiac serial murderer begins his reign of terror in California in what has been described as the perfect crime ( He claimed in letters sent to the newspapers to have murdered 37, but police files put the number at 11. ( He has never been caught )

  • Televisions Installed increases 25 million US , 20.5 million Japan , 19 Million Great Britain

fifth nuclear power
  • France becomes the world's fifth nuclear power

Alec Rose
  • Alec Rose completes his single-handed 354-day round-the-world trip.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau
  • Pierre Elliott Trudeau becomes the Prime Minister of Canada

Student Occupation at Columbia University
  • Student Occupation at Columbia University over Universities affiliation with the Institute for Defense.

Jacqueline Kennedy
  • Aristotle Onassis and Jacqueline Kennedy marry

TEV Wahine
  • The Ferry "TEV Wahine" capsizes in Wellington Harbour, New Zealand

U.S. submarine Scorpion
  • The nuclear-powered U.S. submarine Scorpion sank in the Atlantic Ocean with the loss of 99 crew members.

Hong Kong Flu pandemic
  • Hong Kong Flu pandemic begins in Hong Kong.

Student riots Mexico
  • Student riots threaten Mexico Olympics when thousands of students protest against the military occupation of the National Polytechnic Institute.

Black power salute
  • Black power salute is seen on Television worldwide after the gold and bronze medalists in Olympics show salute during medal ceremony in Mexico City, Mexico

The Aswan Dam
  • The Aswan Dam in Egypt is completed

The Gateway Arch
  • The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is dedicated

Truth In Lending Act
  • Truth In Lending Act is passed to protect consumers during credit transactions.

Spain and Gibraltar Border
  • The border between Spain and Gibraltar is closed

Equatorial Guinea
  • Equatorial Guinea Gains Independence From Spain

Popular Culture 1968

The first Big Mac goes on sale in McDonalds costing 49 cents
The Beatles create Apple Records and record "Hey Jude" as the first single on the label
The CBS television news magazine program "60 Minutes" shown for the first time
Musical Hair opens at Shaftesbury Theatre in London featuring nudity and drug-taking

Popular Films

  • The Graduate
  • Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • Valley of the Dolls
  • The Odd Couple
  • Planet of the Apes
  • Rosemary's Baby

Popular Musicians

  • The Rolling Stones
  • The Supremes
  • The Beatles with -- " Hey Jude "
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Gary Puckett and The Union Gap
  • The Grateful Dead
  • The Monkees
  • Simon and Garfunkel -- " Mrs Robinson "
  • The Beach Boys
  • The Bee Gees
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • Cream
  • The Doors -- " Hello I Love You "
  • Pink Floyd
  • Moody Blues
  • Bobby Goldsboro -- " Honey "
  • Marvin Gaye -- " I heard it through the Grapevine "
  • David Bowie

Born This Year

Will Smith September 25th
Naomi Watts September 28th
Jerry Yang November 6th
Celine Dion March 30th


  • Boeing 747 made its maiden flight.
  • NASA launches Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission
  • Air Bags , Allen K Breed invents an air bag that deploys and inflates automatically on violent impact using nitrogen gas.
  • Apollo 8 orbits the Moon, becoming the first manned space mission to achieve the feat.
  • Dr. Christian Barnard performs the first successful heart transplant.
  • US Explodes experimental hydrogen Bomb.
  • The Emergency 911 Telephone service is started in the USA which provides a single number for reporting emergencies and is manned 24 hrs per day 365 days per year
  • ATM First Philadelphia Bank installs the first automated teller machine in the U.S.

Major World Political Leaders

Australia -- Prime Minister -- John McEwen -- Till December 19th
Australia -- Prime Minister -- John Gorton -- From 19th December
Brazil -- President -- Costa e Silva --
Canada -- Prime Minister -- Lester B. Pearson -- till April 20th,
Canada -- Prime Minister -- Pierre Trudeau -- from April 20th,
China -- Chairman of the People's Republic of China -- Liu Shaoqi --
France -- President -- Charles de Gaulle --
Germany -- Chancellor -- Kurt Georg Kiesinger --
India -- Prime Minister -- Indira Gandhi --
Italy -- Prime Minister -- Aldo Moro -- Till June 24th
Italy -- Prime Minister -- Giovanni Leone -- From 24th June
Italy -- Prime Minister -- Giovanni Leone -- Till December 12th
Italy -- Prime Minister -- Mariano Rumor -- From 12th December
Japan -- Prime Minister -- Eisaku Sato --
Mexico -- President -- Gustavo Diaz Ordaz --
Russia / Soviet Union -- First Secretary of the CPSU -- Leonid Brezhnev --
South Africa -- Prime Minister -- Balthazar Johannes Vorster --
United States -- President -- Lyndon B. Johnson --
United Kingdom -- Prime Minister -- Harold Wilson --

Political Elections 1968

United States Presidential Election -- 1968 -- Richard Nixon (Republican) defeats Hubert Humphrey (Democratic) and George Wallace (American Independent) --

Canadian Federal Election -- 1968 -- Pierre Trudeau ( Liberal ) defeats Robert Stanfield ( Progressive Conservatives ) --