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If you were born in, or around 1978, what did the world look like then?
Whilst writing my ’40 before 40′ bucket list, I got to wondering what happened in 1978, other than my birth.
Gen X tribe, there was a whole heap of cool stuff happening 40 years ago and 1978 was also the genesis of many stalwarts of our lives and culture that we now take for granted.
So…without further ado, here is my list of 16 interesting and surprising things that happened in 1978
1. Grease was the word
Yep, that teenage fave was actually released before some of us 1978 babies were even born! How many times have you watched it? I’m pretty sure that I’m well into double numbers. For those fancying a trip down memory lane with Sandy and Danny, Paramount has released a 40th-anniversary edition. Get the popcorn popping, call the girls and you’re ready for a sleepover 1990s style. Don’t forget the alcopops!
2. ‘That’ Kate Bush song was number 1
‘Wuthering Heights’ hit number 1 on 5 March 1978. It’s one of those songs that hung around for most of the 1980s and beyond.
3. The Garfield comic strip debuted in June of this year.
Mugs, lampshades, hoodies, you name it, Garfield merchandise was big news. What did you have? If you’re feeling a little bit nostalgic, I’ve discovered that there’s a huge array of memorabilia available on Etsy. I can resist, but it’s worth taking a peek just for a little jaunt down memory lane.
4. Louise Brown, the world’s first test tube baby was born.
On 25 July 1978, Louise became the first person ever to be born thanks to the pioneering work of Sir Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe. In the 40 years since Louise’s birth, more than 5 million babies have been born as a result of IVF – an absolutely amazing statistic.
5. The Who drummer, Keith Moon died
He was considered by many as the greatest drummer in the history of rock. He wasn’t afraid to make his drum kit the focus of the Who’s tracks such as ‘My Generation’ and ‘Pinball Wizard’ and, for many Gen Xers, his rhythm brought the anthems of our childhood to technicolour life. Basically, even if you can’t remember a single song name, ever, like me, you will know almost every Who track ever written.
6. The very first Superman film hit movie theatres in the US in December 1978
Superman was, to a child of the 1970s, as Harry Potter is to children of the 21st century. Whether it was the original Christoper Reeve adaptations or Dean Cain’s TV serialised version of our favourite Kryptonian hero, or both, Superman was a stalwart of our formative years. I cried real tears when the last episode of ‘The New Adventures of Superman aired in 1997. Real hard tears.
My husband even went through a period of actually wanting to call our second born ‘Lex’ and it had nothing to do with it being a shortened form of Alexander. True story.
7. Synthetic ‘Human’ Insulin was first successfully produced in a lab
Diabetics had previously been treated using animal-derived insulin and this was another huge step forward for medical science.
8. The Space Invaders arcade game was released
Whether you spent hours playing or not, who can forget those electronic sounds and block characters which, for their time, were revolutionary? And playable with nothing more than a space bar and left and right arrows. Fancy a stepping back in time? Well, you can as I’ve found a web-based version – you might not be playing it on the ZX Spectrum, but the experience is still pretty authentic.
9. If you were born in 1978, you are the same age as these famous people:
Emile Heskey, Jamie Carragher, Gethin Jones, Jenny Frost (Atomic Kitten) Simon Webbe & Duncan James (Blue) Rachel Stevens (S Club 7), James Franco, Katie Price, Joshua Jackson (Pacey, Dawson’s Creek), Frank Lampard, Nicole Sherzinger, James Corden, Suranne Jones, Ben Cohen, Jodie Kidd, Katherine Heigl.
There were a few surprises in there for me – how can Pacey possibly have aged. Ever?
10. These 1978 releases were big hits:
Boney M (Rivers of Babylon), Paul McCartney (Mull of Kintyre) Village People (YMCA), Bee Gees (Staying Alive) and they’ve pretty much endured the last 40 years with us. And, a disco (or whatever we’re calling them in 2018) still isn’t a disco without a rendition of YMCA.
11. Grange Hill first aired
There were those who were allowed to watch it and those that weren’t and what did you do if a ‘not alloweder’ came round to play and it was Grange Hill night?? It outlived our childhoods and ran for 30 years before the final episode aired in 2008 – but ten years ago.
Need I say more? It first hit US TV screens in 1978 and who can forget that theme tune? When I finally reached an age at which I was allowed to watch it, my life was actually made.
13. Sony built the first prototype of the Walkman.
By the early 1990s, the Walkman had become the teenager’s staple for playing badly recorded mixtapes of Radio 1’s top 40. And, the Sony Walkman Sport? Well, that was the height of sophistication. Who can forget the joy of discovering how to efficiently use the ‘auto-reverse’ button or the hours spent re-winding metres of escapee magnetic tape with the help of the nearest Bic pen? These things were revolutionary. If you’d told us then that we would one day be walking around with hours of music on a telephone that fitted neatly into our pockets
…and, if you’re wondering how far your 2018 polymer Bank of England notes would have stretched in 1978’s Winter of discontent, here are a few stats for you:
- The national average house price in the UK was £15, 261.50 (Nationwide Building Society figures)
- A pint of Milk cost 11p
- A Loaf of bread cost 28p
Are there any surprises there or ay particularly cherished memories? Leave a comment below to let me know.