The People History Home

1979 Major News Events 45 Years Ago

  1. Three Mile island Nuclear Accident
  2. China institutes the one child per family rule
  3. General Knowledge Quiz Game Trivial Pursuit Launched
  4. Pink Floyd release "The Wall"
  5. USSR Invades Afghanistan
  6. Margaret Thatcher is elected Prime minister in the UK
  7. Sony released the Walkman
  8. Snowboard is invented in the USA
  9. Lord Mountbatten and three others assassinated
  10. 63 Americans are taken hostage in the American Embassy in Tehran

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

Michael Jackson

  • Michael Jackson releases his breakthrough album "Off the Wall" on August 10
More Information and Timeline for the Michael Jackson "Off the Wall"
1. A young Michael Jackson begins performing with his brothers in the Jackson 5 in the mid-1960s. They become popular throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s.
2. A talented and former child-star in his family singing group, he breaks away in the mid to late 1970s to start a solo career and releases his breakthrough album"Off the Wall" on August 10, 1979.
2. "Off the Wall" was his first solo album and established him as a serious and adult artist, in sharp contrast to his previous bubblegum pop image and sound that he had as a part of the Jackson 5.
3. This album was the first solo album to produce four top ten hits including "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" and "Rock With You."
4. Jackson also won a number of awards for his work on this album such as an AMA for Favorite Soul/R&B Album and a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance on "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough."
5. This was the first step in Jackson's ascension to the throne of popular music as the King of Pop.

UK -- Public Sector workers strike

  • Public Sector workers go on strike in the United Kingdom
  • "Winter of Discontent" Leads to Election of Margaret Thatcher
More Information and Timeline for UK Public Labor Strike
On January 22nd, 1979 public sector workers in the United Kingdom go on strike in the largest strike to take place in the country since 1926. The workers from the four largest public sector unions called on their one and a half million members to stop working in protest of the British government’s attempt to create a pay increase ceiling at five percent. The National Union of Public Employees, Confederation of Health Service Employees, General and Municipal Workers Union, and Transport and General Worker’s Union brought the United Kingdom to a standstill during the Harsh winter of 1979. They demanded a £60 a week minimum wage and a 35 hour work week. The strike ended on February 14th. This was the first of several strikes that contributed to the election of Margaret Thatcher’s conservative government in May of 1979 to replace Labour leader James Callaghan’s government.

ESPN launches

  • ESPN launches on cable television.
More Information and Timeline for the ESPN Launch
The ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) television network is launched on cable television at 7pm Eastern Time on September 7th, 1979. The network was created by Bill and Scott Rasmussen along with Ed Eagan as a channel dedicated to true sports fans. History of Sports Home

ESPN launched with the airing of a live episode of their signature program Sports Center, anchored at the time by George Grande and Lee Leonard.

Within a year the network became a 24/7 television service and within a few more years it gained rights to broadcast games for the NBA. ESPN was soon purchased by ABC in 1984 and it blossomed into the powerhouse network it has become today, a popular source for sports news and exclusive sports events.

SALT II Treaty

  • The Soviet Union and the United States sign the SALT II Treaty.
More Information for SALT II
The United States and Soviet Union reach an agreement during the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks during June of 1979. U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev signed the SALT II treaty in Vienna after having held several talks regarding the reduction of nuclear arms from 1972 to 1979. The SALT II treaty banned new missile programs and asked both sides to reduce the number of “delivery vehicles” to 2,250 on each side. Later that year the U.S.S.R. invaded Afghanistan and as a result the U.S. Senate did not ratify the treaty. Despite not ratifying the treaty, both sides still agreed to adhere to its conditions until it expired in December of 1985.

Cost of Living 1979 - How Much things cost

Yearly Inflation Rate USA11.2%
Year End Close Dow Jones Industrial Average 838
Interest Rates Year End Federal Reserve 15.25%
Average Cost of new house $58,100.00
Average Income per year $17,500.00
Average Monthly Rent $280.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas 86 cents

A few More Examples

Sony Walkman $200.00
Chess Challenger Computer Chess Game $199.49
Pachinko Pinball Machine $199.49
Jox Trainers $14.99
Girls Denim Overalls $24.00
Atari Video Computer System $199.00
JVC VHS Video Recorder System $54.99
Mens Blazer, Vest and Slacks $39.99
King Size Bean Bag Chair $19.99
Toyota Corola $3,698.00
Mercury Couger XR7 $6,430.00

Below are some Prices for UK guides in Pounds Sterling

Average House Price 13,650
Gallon of Petrol 0.79
Yearly Inflation Rate UK 17.00%
Interest Rates Year End Bank of England 12.50%

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returns to Tehran

  • Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returns to Tehran, Iran after nearly 15 years of exile and takes over the Iranian law enforcement, courts and government administration and Khomeini seizes power in Iran
  • Iran's government becomes Islamic Republic when the Shah of Persia is forced to leave
More Information and Timeline for Ayatollah Khomeini
The Iranian Revolution comes to an end in February of 1979 when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returns to power after being in exile for about fifteen years. Khomeini had been exiled for his opposition to the Shah’s land reforms and attempts to modernize and Westernize the country in the 1960s. Khomeini returned not long after Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was forced to flee the country. Shah Reza Pahlavi had been in power since 1941. Khomeini’s first orders were to expel all foreigners from Iran, forcing over 1,000 U.S. State Department workers to leave the country. He also wanted to return the government’s focus to creating a country that followed the principles of Islam and shunned outside interference and Westernization.

Idi Amin is deposed in Uganda

  • The Dictator Idi Amin is deposed in Uganda
More Information and Timeline for Idi Amin
The dictator of Uganda, Idi Amin, is overthrown on April 11th, 1979. Amin fled from the Ugandan capital of Kampala when a coalition of troops from Tanzania and Ugandan forces who opposed Amin marched to the capital to take over the government. Amin had taken over the country in 1971 and his extreme nationalist policies caused the collapse of the economy. He was also though responsible for the deaths of around 300,000 people due to his genocidal policies against different ethnic groups. Amin escaped and lived in Saudi Arabia until he died in 2003.

United States - Skylab Space Station

1. The experimental space station, Skylab, crashed back to Earth during July.
2. Skylab was launched by the United States in May of 1973 and was NASA’s first space station.
3. It was occupied by three three-person crews for about 171 days between its launch and
February of 1974 and there were over 300 experiments performed.
4. The space station had a few technical difficulties when a meteoroid shield was ripped off during launch and damaged the solar panels.
5. It was in orbit for a total of 2,249 days before its orbit decayed the space station plummeted back to Earth.
6. Engineers calibrated its orbit so that by the time it crashed it would be over the Indian Ocean and not in range of a populous area. Some debris landed in Western Australia.

Voyager I photo reveals Jupiter's rings

More Information and Timeline for Voyager 1
The Voyager 1 spacecraft was launched in September of 1977 with the mission of gathering information on Jupiter and exploring the outer edges of the solar system. On March 5th of 1979 Voyager 1 made its closest approach to Jupiter and made observations about the moons, rings, radiation, and magnetic fields of the solar system’s largest planet. Voyager 1 is still exploring space and as of August in 2012, the spacecraft entered interstellar space and will continue exploring indefinitely.

More News and Key Events From 1979

US Embassy Attacked Pakistan

  • A mob attack destroys the US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan

Sahara Desert

  • The Sahara Desert experiences snow for 30 minutes.

Tornadoes Texas and Oklahoma

  • 13 Tornadoes ripped through Texas and Oklahoma

Rhodesia / Zimbabwe

  • The first black-led government of Rhodesia in 90 years takes power on June 1 News Events and the countries name is changed to Zimbabwe,

Pope John Paul II

  • Pope John Paul II visits his native Poland, becoming the first Pope to visit a Communist country

Iraq Saddam Hussein

  • President Hasan al-Bakr resigns and Vice President Saddam Hussein replaces him in Iraq

Oil Prices Increase around the world

  • Due to crisis in Iran Oil Prices Increase around the world and the public begin panic buying making things worse.


  • During the "Death to the Klan March" organised by communist supporters in Greensboro, North Carolina white supremists open fire killing five marchers

WHO Concert --- Riverfront Coliseum

  • Eleven fans are killed and dozens are injured at a WHO Concert at the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, Ohio

Three Mile island Nuclear Accident

  • Three Mile island Nuclear Accident after fire at reactor in Pennsylvania US

Iran US Hostages

  • 3000 Iranian radicals, mostly students, invade the United States embassy in Tehran and take 90 hostages
  • 63 Americans are taken hostage in the American Embassy in Tehran

Grand Mosque in Mecca

  • 400 Armed Sunni Islamic Muslims, seize the Grand Mosque in Mecca taking pilgrims present for the annual hajj hostage. The crisis ends after two weeks and more than 250 dead.

British nudist beach

  • The first British nudist beach is established in Brighton

The Times news paper

  • The Times news paper is not published for nearly a year due to an industrial dispute

Peace treaty

  • Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin sign the first peace treaty between an Arab nation and the Jewish state


  • A Canadian Pacific freight train carrying dangerous chemicals is derailed causing an explosion and releasing toxic fumes causing mass evacuation in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Lord Mountbatten assassinated by the I.R.A

  • Lord Mountbatten and three others assassinated by the I.R.A. on August 27th . He was a British admiral, statesman and an uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Northern Ireland

  • Eighteen British soldiers are murdered at Warrenpoint, South Down

France - tsunami

  • 23 people die in Nice, France, when the coastal town is hit by a tsunami


  • The Sandinista National Liberation Front overthrow the regime in the central American republic of Nicaragua

China - 1 child policy

  • China institutes the one child per family rule to help control it's exploding population

Anthrax epidemic

  • The worlds first anthrax epidemic begins in Ekaterinburg, Russia following a biological weapons plant accident

American Airlines Flight 191

  • "American Airlines Flight 191" crashed and exploded in a field near O'Hare International Airport in Chicago

Barrel oil reaches $24

  • The price of oil reaches a new record of $24 per barrel

IRA Murders MP Airey Neave

  • The British Conservative MP Airey Neave is killed by a car bomb

Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

  • Pakistan's former Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is executed
  • USSR Invades Afghanistan

    • USSR Invades Afghanistan

    Margaret Thatcher

    • Margaret Thatcher elected on May 3rd as the Prime minister in UK

    Fastnet International Yacht Race

    • Severe Atlantic Storm hits Fastnet International Yacht Race and a number of boats and crew are lost

    Sir Anthony Blunt

    • Following the Burgess, Mclean, Philby and Sir Anthony Blunt Spy Scandal he is stripped of his knighthood

1979 Mens and Womens Fashion Clothes

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

Fashion Clothing Examples From 1979

Toys From The Year 1979

1979 Toys

Popular Culture 1979

  • YMCA sues the Village People for libel because of their song of the same name
  • Sid Vicious, a former member of the Sex Pistols dies due to a heroin overdose during the trial for murdering his girlfriend
  • Pink Floyd release the multi award winning concept album "The Wall" with the top selling single "Another Brick in the Wall"
  • The General Knowledge Quiz Game Trivial Pursuit is Launched
  • The First modern Bungee Jumping performed by a group from the Oxford University Dangerous Sports club jumped from the Clifton Suspension Bridge joining England and Wales

Popular Films

  • Superman The Movie
  • Every Which Way But Loose
  • Rocky II
  • Alien
  • The Amityville Horror
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  • Moonraker
  • The Muppet Movie
  • The Deer Hunter
  • Kramer vs. Kramer

Popular Musicians and songs

  • Bee Gees with " Love you Inside Out "

  • Rod Stewart
  • Gloria Gaynor with " I will Survive "

  • Blondie with " heart of Glass "

  • Donna Summer "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls"

  • Michael Jackson
  • The Eagles
  • Commodores
  • Pink Floyd
  • The Police
  • Village People
  • Boomtown Rats

Popular TV Programmes

  • All My Children
  • Masterpiece Theatre
  • Old Grey Whistle Test
  • Are You Being Served? (UK)
  • Emmerdale Farm (UK)
  • M*A*S*H
  • The Price Is Right
  • The Waltons
  • Last of the Summer Wine (UK)
  • The Young and the Restless
  • Happy Days
  • Little House on the Prairie
  • Saturday Night Live
  • Charlie's Angels
  • Family Feud
  • Quincy, M.E.
  • The Muppet Show (UK)
  • The Love Boat
  • Three's Company
  • Dallas
  • Diff'rent Strokes
  • Mork and Mindy
  • Taxi

Born This Year in 1979

Kate Hudson April 9th
Heath Ledger April 4th
Jennifer Love Hewitt February 21st


  • VisiCalc becomes the first spreadsheet program.
  • Sony introduces the Sony Walkman costing $200.00
  • Voyager I photo reveals Jupiter's rings
  • The European Space Agency launches Ariane 1

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

Snowboard USA by Daniel E Chadwick
First Commercial Cellular Network NTT
The Sony Walkman Introduced Sony

Calendar For The Year 1979

1979 Calendar

Major World Political Leaders

Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser

Brazil President Ernesto Geisel Till 15 March

Brazil President João Figueiredo From 15 March

Canada Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau till June 4,

Canada Prime Minister Joe Clark from June 4,

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

France President Valéry Giscard d'Estain

Germany Chancellor Helmut Schmidt

India Prime Minister Morarji Desai Till 28 July

India Prime Minister Charan Singh From 28 July

Italy Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti Till 4 August

Italy Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga From 4 August

Japan Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira

Mexico President José López Portillo

Russia / Soviet Union First Secretary of the CPSU Leonid Brezhnev

South Africa Prime Minister Pieter Willem Botha

United States President Jimmy Carter

United Kingdom Prime Minister James Callaghan Till 4 May

United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher From 4 May