The People History Home

1978 Major News Events in History

  1. Egypt and Israel sign the Camp David Accords
  2. People's Temple Jonestown Suicides
  3. First Solo North Pole Expedition
  4. United Kingdom - First Test Tube Baby Born
  5. The first Garfield comic strip
  6. Susan B. Anthony Dollar
  7. US Teachers strike
  8. US Dollar plunges
  9. Oil tanker Amoco Cadiz runs aground
  10. Poisoned umbrella tip murder

More Detailed Information on each Event and those not included can be found below

Guyana - People's Temple Jonestown

Cult leader Jim Jones tells 900 members of his church, "People's Temple", to commit suicide

1. The People's Temple religious cult was founded by Jim Jones in Indianapolis, Indiana during 1958.
2. Jones moved his church to Ukiah, California in 1965 and then to San Francisco, California in 1971.
3. A group of People's Temple members moved with Jim Jones to the Jonestown compound in Guyana, South America between 1974 and 1977 after Jones was accused of financial fraud.
4. U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown at the request of former People's Temple members and the relatives of current members. He visited on November 17, 1978 with some observers and journalists.
5. Several residents of the compound asked Ryan for help in returning to the United States. This angered Jones who feared his followers would defect and he ordered a group to kill the five visitors including Congressman Ryan.
6. On November 18th, Jones commanded his followers to drink poisoned punch, many of them willingly drank the poison but there was also evidence that several had to be forced by other followers and armed guards.
7. There was a death toll of over 900 people, more than 300 of them were children. Jones was also found dead of a gunshot wound.

Camp David Peace Accords

  • Egypt and Israel sign the Camp David Accords in an effort to secure peace between the two nations.
More Information for the Camp David Accords
Egypt and Israel sign the Camp David Accords, a crucial step in bringing peace to the two warring nations, during September of 1978. The terms of the accords were negotiated at Camp David during an important summit between the leaders of Egypt, Israel, and the United States. They were signed at the White House by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and United States President Jimmy Carter. The Camp David accords created a framework under which a peace treaty was agreed to during the following year ending a 31 year state of war between the two nations that had existed since the creation of the state of Israel.

United States - First Women Astronauts

NASA unveils the first group of women astronauts during January. The group included Shannon Lucid, Margaret Rhea Seddon, Kathryn Sullivan, Judith Resnik, Anna Fisher, and Sally Ride. The women enrolled in astronaut training and completed it in August of 1979. There had previously been a group of 13 women selected to undergo NASA’s astronaut testing in the 1960s but none were chosen to complete their training until 1978. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983, Kathryn Sullivan became the first American woman to perform a spacewalk, and Shannon Lucid became the first American woman to visit the Mir space station.

USA -- Double Eagle II

The Double Eagle II balloon, piloted by Larry Newman, Ben Abruzzo, and Maxie Anderson, became the first balloon to complete a transatlantic flight during August. The helium-filled balloon traveled over 3,000 miles carrying the three men in a trip that lasted just over 137 hours. They began their journey in Presque Isle, Maine and landed in Miserey, France near Paris. The gondola that carried them measured just 15 x 7 x 4.5 feet.

Cost of Living 1978 - How Much things cost

How Much things cost in 1978

Yearly Inflation Rate USA7.62%

Year End Close Dow Jones Industrial Average 805

Interest Rates Year End Federal Reserve 11.75%

Average Cost of new house $54,800.00

Average Income per year $17,000.00

Average Monthly Rent $260.00

Cost of a gallon of Gas 63 cents

A few More Examples

1LB of Bacon$1.20
Dozen Eggs 48 Cents
Radio Shack Tandy TRS80 Computer $399.00
8 Track Player $169.00
Land O Lakes Butter Lb $1.33
New York Strip Steaks Lb $2.39
Ladies Corduroy Overalls $22.00
Star Wars Family Pajamas $6.49 - $11.99

Marion, Ohio
Ranch Home, 3 beds , den, 1 1/2 baths, double detached garage $24,500

Below are some Prices for UK guides in Pounds Sterling

Average House Price 13,650
Gallon of Petrol 0.79
Yearly Inflation Rate UK 8.3%
Interest Rates Year End Bank of England 12.50%

Arctic - First Solo North Pole Expedition

1. Japanese explorer Naomi Uemura became the first person to reach the North Pole in a solo expedition during May.
2. He trekked alone through the Arctic with a team of malamutes to carry his supplies.
3. The Canadian Air Force also provided some assistance by replenishing his supplies via helicopter.
4. The 37-year-old explorer began his trip in early March and had encountered several hardships along the way including encountering a polar bear that ate some of his supplies and getting stuck on a cracking ice floe.
5. Uemura was also the first person to make a solo ascent of Mount Denali, which he did in 1970.
6. In 1984, he disappeared making another ascent of Mount Denali during winter.

United Kingdom - First Test Tube Baby Born

The world’s first human conceived through in-vitro fertilization (IVF), Louise Brown, was born on July 25 in the United Kingdom. Called a “test-tube baby” by the press, Louise was conceived in a petri dish and then implanted as a two and a half day old embryo. The experimental procedure was completed by Robert Edwards, a medical researcher, and Patrick Steptoe, a gynecologist. The Browns had failed to conceive naturally for over 9 years prior to the successful IVF treatment and several years later they had child through IVF who was the fortieth baby to be successfully conceived through the process. Edwards shared in a Nobel Prize in Medicine for his contributions to the development of in-vitro fertilization in 2010.

The first Garfield comic strip debuts in U.S. newspapers

More Information for Garfield.
1. The very first “Garfield” comic strip is published in 41 U.S. Newspapers during June of 1978.
2. Created by cartoonist Jim Davis, the comic strip focused on the life of a lazy and often sarcastic cat named “Garfield.”
3. The comic quickly grew in popularity and was featured in 100 newspapers only a year after its debut.
4. Featuring several other characters including Garfield’s owner John and the cat’s rival pet, a dog named Odie, the popular comic was soon turned into books, television specials, merchandise and even a movie, topping best seller lists and winning awards along the way.
5. In 2002, Jim Davis’ Garfield was awarded the Guinness Record for being the most widely syndicated comic strip, having been featured in over 2,500 newspapers worldwide.

Dominica Gains Independence

  • Dominica Gains Independence From Great Britain.
More Information and Timeline for Dominica Independence
1. On November 3,1978 the Caribbean island of Dominica became independent from Great Britain. Carib Indians native to South America lived on the island prior to the island’s colonization, but the conflict and disease brought by European settlers decimated the indigenous populations.
2. Dominica was originally claimed and settled by the French but control of the island went back and forth between the French and British from the 1600’s to the early 1800’s.
3. Dominica became a British colony in the late 1700’s and was associated with several different colonial organizations until the 1950’s.
4. In 1967, Dominica got a new constitution which allowed the island to self-govern its own internal affairs.
5. By November of 1978 it gained full independence from the United Kingdom.

United States - Torrijos-Carter Treaties

The United States Senate ratifies the second of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties during April. The treaties guaranteed that the United States would hand over control of the Panama Canal back to Panama by the end of 1999. The United States had control over the canal since 1903 as a result of the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty. While it was considered a little controversial at the time, this was a political win for US President Jimmy Carter who had helped negotiate the terms of the treaties. The official names of the two treaties were “The Treaty Concerning the Permanent Neutrality and Operation of the Panama Canal” and “The Panama Canal Treaty” and both barely passed in the Senate with just one vote more than a two-thirds majority.

Spain - New Constitution Established

The country of Spain restored its democracy and ended forty years of a dictatorship under Francisco Franco. After the death of Franco in 1975 the country created a new constitution and it was ratified by the Spanish people in a referendum in early December of 1978 and later signed by King Juan Carlos I near the end of the month. The new constitution transitioned the country into a functioning democracy with democratic institutions while keeping the King as the symbolic head of state.

More News and Key Events From 1978

Public Service strikes in UK

Public Service strikes in UK causes major disruption to all services

US Teachers strike

US Teachers strike extend summer holidays for thousands of students

Volkswagen Beetle

After nearly 30 years The Volkswagen Beetle stops production having manufactured 20 million cars

Worldwide Unemployment

  • Worldwide Unemployment rises after several decades of near full employment

Gold reaches $200.00 per ounce

  • Gold reaches an all time high of $200.00 per ounce

US Dollar plunges

The US Dollar plunges to record low against many European currencies

Japanese car Imports

  • The Japanese car Imports account for half the US import market following the energy crisis and increase in fuel prices that fuels demand for economy cars

European Court of Human Rights

  • The European Court of Human Rights finds the United Kingdom government guilty of mistreating prisoners in Northern Ireland

Aerosol sprays

  • Sweden becomes the first nation to ban aerosol sprays that are thought to damage earth's protective ozone layer.

Rhodesia / Zimbabwe

  • Rhodesia's prime minister Ian Smith and three black leaders agree on the transfer to black majority rule.

Oil tanker Amoco Cadiz runs aground

The oil tanker Amoco Cadiz runs aground March 16 News Events on the coast of Brittany. causing an ecological disaster with A slick 18 miles wide and 80 miles long covered about 200 miles (320 km) of Brittany coastline

"Son of Sam," is sentenced

Serial killer David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam," is sentenced on June 12th to 25 years to life in prison

Neutron Bomb

The US stops production of the Neutron Bomb ( Kills People but leaves buildings and infrastructure standing )

Susan B. Anthony Dollar

The first Susan B. Anthony Dollar is minted on December 13th

Indira Ghandi

Indira Ghandi faces fraud charges in India

India monsoon season

India faces it's longest and worst monsoon season in modern times leaving 2 million homeless

Poisoned umbrella tip murder

Bulgarian defector Georgi Markov assasinated by Bulgarian Secret Police using poisoned umbrella tip

Iran Earthquake

Earthquake strikes Tabas, Iran and surrounding villages killing nearly 20,000

Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski flees to France in February 1978, hours before he was to be formally sentenced for rape and other charges against a child

World -- Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin during October of 1978. They were awarded the prize for their work on the Camp David Accords which had been agreed upon during the previous month.


Israel attacks on southern Lebanon following bus hijacking in Tel Aviv

Greece Earthquake

A powerful magnitude 6.5 earthquake hits Thessaloniki, Greece

The Cold War

Due to poor Cold War Relations United States bans sale of latest computer technology to Soviet Union

1978 3 Popes

  • Pope Paul VI dies at age of 80.
  • John Paul I Becomes Pope from August 26th , 1978 and dies just 33 days later on September 28, 1978
  • Cardinal Karol Wojtyla becomes Pope John Paul II

Motability scheme

Britain launches the Motability scheme to provide cars for disabled people

Worlds Population

Worlds Population Estimated at 4.4 billion

Karl Wallenda

Karl Wallenda, founder of the Flying Wallendas, dies after falling off a tight-rope

1978 World Cup

Argentina Wins 1978 World Cup in Argentina

1978 Mens and Womens Fashion Clothes

Part of our Collection of Clothing From The 1970's Fashion

Fashion Clothing Examples From 1978

Toys From The Year 1978

1978 Toys

Popular Culture 1978

Popular Films

  • Grease
  • Saturday Night Fever
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • National Lampoon's Animal House
  • Jaws 2
  • Heaven Can Wait
  • Revenge of the Pink Panther
  • The Deer Hunter

Popular Musicians and songs

  • Bee Gees with " Night Fever and Stayin Alive "
  • Paul McCartney and Wings
  • John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
  • Rolling Stones
  • Commodores with " Three Times a Lady "
  • Boomtown Rats

Popular TV Programmes

  • Happy Days
  • Little House on the Prairie
  • The Rockford Files
  • Good Morning America
  • Jim'll Fix It (UK)
  • Saturday Night Live
  • Wheel of Fortune
  • Charlie's Angels
  • Quincy, M.E.
  • The Muppet Show
  • CHiPs
  • The Love Boat
  • Three's Company

Born This Year in 1978

Ashton Kutcher February 7th
Kobe Bryant August 23rd
Josh Hartnett July 21st


  • Illinois Bell Company introduces first ever Cellular Mobile Phone System
  • Space Invaders Launches Craze for Computer Video Games
  • The first computer bulletin board system BBS is created
  • 98% of all American homes have a television
  • First Test Tube Baby is born on July 25th in England a girl Louise Brown, from in vitro fertilization

Inventions Invented by Inventors and Country ( or attributed to First Use )
In Vitro Fertilisation England "the First test tube baby is born"

Calendar For The Year 1978

1978 Calendar

Major World Political Leaders

Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser

Brazil President Ernesto Geisel

Canada Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau

China Chairman of the People's Republic of China Post Abolished

France President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing

Germany Chancellor Helmut Schmidt

India Prime Minister

Italy Prime Minister GMorarji Desaiiulio Andreotti

Japan Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda Till 7 December

Japan Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira From 7 December

Mexico President José López Portillo

Russia / Soviet Union
First Secretary of the CPSU Leonid Brezhnev

South Africa Prime Minister Balthazar Johannes Vorster Till 29 September

South Africa Prime Minister Pieter Willem Botha From 29 September

United States President Jimmy Carter

United Kingdom Prime Minister James Callaghan