The Year You Were Born:
In the World: The US launches a Christmas bombing on Hanoi, Vietnam, an action that draws major criticism of President Richard Nixon. -In the US: Apollo 17, the final manned mission to the moon, is launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
In the White House: Incumbent President Richard Nixon defeats George McGovern in the Presidential election.
In Video Gaming: Atari begins the dawn of video games with their release of the arcade game Pong, the first commercially successful video game.
Also Born in 1972: Rob Thomas (February 14th), Shaquille O’Neal (March 6th), Dane Cook (March 18th), Carmen Electra (April 20th), Wayne Brady (June 2nd), Ben Affleck (August 15th), Gwyneth Paltrow (September 27th), Jude Law (December 29th)
Your Childhood: 1970s
New toys popular among kids and adults alike included the Rubik’s Cube and skateboard. The former provided an intellectual challenge for people of all ages, and the latter quickly became a popular sport.
More technologically advanced toys were becoming possible, and so home robotics kits and the first electronic games, like Pong, appeared on the scene.
Amidst all the new technology, children still yearned for throwbacks to the classic toys of yesteryear - for girls there were traditional dolls like Crissy and Velvet, and for boys the were matchbox cars and slot car racers.
The 70s were a decade where several successful children’s authors releasing multiple hit books each. Authors whose work dominated the decade included Dr. Seuss, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Judy Blume, and Stan and Jan Berenstain.
The Bronze Age of comic books spanned the 1970s. This era was marked by darker themes that were more relevant than ever to youth, including as drug use, alcoholism, and racial prejudice.
The 70s spawned several popular kids’ TV shows, including Scooby-Doo, The Muppet Show, and Super Friends. In addition to these purely entertaining programs, the decade birthed Schoolhouse Rock!, a series designed to educate kids on various school topics through cartoons and music.
The Teen Years: 1980s
The music industry was revolutionized with two major developments in this decade: the invention of the compact disc (CD) and the launch of television channel MTV. Music Videos aired on this channel helped skyrocket artists like Michael Jackson, Duran Duran, Prince, Madonna, and Queen. Also popular were hard rock and glam metal bands like Guns N’ Roses and Bon Jovi, as well as soul/rock fusion artists like Phil Collins and Huey Lewis and the News.
Movies about teens, for teens were absolutely huge in the 1980s. The genre’s most notable films include The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Risky Business, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Female sex symbols of the 80s included Daryl Hannah, Kathleen Turner, Kim Basinger, and Heather Locklear, but none even came close to rivaling the ultimate female sex symbol of the decade: Madonna. The “Material Girl” didn’t have a male counterpart, but popular male sex symbols included Harrison Ford, Mickey Rourke, Patrick Swayze, Tom Selleck, and Richard Gere.
Home video gaming systems like the Nintendo Entertainment System debuted in the 80s, giving teens a unique new form of entertainment. Some of the top-selling games included Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Frogger, and Tetris.
With the popularity of “Hair Metal” bands came the popularity of hair teased to look very large, in the style of these popular musicians. Brand names like Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein became a very important factor in choosing clothing. Accessories like shoulder pads, headbands, and Ray-Ban sunglasses were also popular.
The 80s spawned slang terms such as “airhead” (stupid or unaware person), “bad” (meaning good), “bodacious” (an adjective to describe an attractive woman’s body), “eat my shorts” (a generic comeback), “veg” (hang out and do nothing), and “yuppie” (a young career-oriented person).
Early Adulthood: 1990s
When Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait in 1990, the UN sent a coalition led by the United States to the Persian Gulf to fight back the Iraqi army. This came to be known as the Gulf War, also known as Operation: Desert Storm.
The US experienced a long period of economic expansion over the course of the decade, kicking off with a stock market boom in 1992.
Various oppressed groups continued to gain more acceptance during this decade. In 1990, the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of diseases as homosexuality became more and more accepted as a natural lifestyle choice. The 90s were also the stage of the third wave of the feminist movement.
Some of the biggest problems of the 1980s - drugs and sexually transmitted diseases - continued to grow in the 90s. AIDS became more and more widespread, and heroin, crystal meth, and ecstasy enjoyed a newfound popularity during the decade.
Technology flourished like never before in the 1990s. 1991 saw the creation of the World Wide Web, which would rapidly expand throughout the decade and quickly revolutionize everything from communication and business to shopping and entertainment.
Young adults helped elect democratic President Bill Clinton in 1993, replacing republican George H. W. Bush. Clinton is largely thanked for helping bring about the economic boom of the 90s.
Adulthood and Middle Age
New advances in technology allowed for economic globalization as well as new consumer electronics like the Apple iPod. The economic growth of the 90s continued during the early 2000s, but came to an abrupt end with the global financial crisis that began in 2007. The United States’ involvement in the middle east evolved into the War on Terror in response to terrorist organization al Qaeda’s attacks on September 11th, 2001. The decade was ravaged by disasters both natural and pathological, from Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Southeast Asia to the Bird and Swine flus.