1970: Second Vietnam lottery
On July 1, 1970, the second Vietnam draft lottery took place. Although the U.S. had been embroiled in the conflict for years, the Selective Service System didn’t become involved until 1969. The lottery process was widely condemned at the time, and modern-day criticism still holds that it was far from random, even though it claimed to be.
1971: Pentagon Papers are released
Daniel Ellsberg, a former U.S. military analyst, began leaking portions of the Pentagon Papers in early June 1971. On June 13, The New York Times printed portions of this classified Department of Defense study, which focused on America’s political and military involvement in Vietnam. The general public quickly learned that the government had been lying to them for the course of the entire conflict, and public opinion about both the war and the president, which had already been poor, turned even more sour.
1972: Watergate scandal
The Watergate scandal began early in the morning of June 17, 1972, when five men were caught and arrested after breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters. The group, led by a former CIA agent and a former FBI agent, was attempting to photograph key documents and install listening devices. The scandal continued to play out over the next several months, as reporters at the Washington Post published articles accusing President Richard Nixon of being involved. Two summers later, the disgraced president officially resigned.
1973: Secretariat wins the Triple Crown
Secretariat became the first horse to win the triple crown since WWII on June 9, 1973. After decisive victories at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, Secretariat broke the record at the Belmont Stakes, finishing the half-mile race in 2 minutes and 24 seconds. The win was not the only time he set a record, and his incredible racing career earned him a spot on ESPN’s list of the “100 greatest North American athletes of the 20th century” list.
1974: Philippe Petite’s high wire stunt
On a sweltering New York City morning in August, French daredevil Philippe Petit walked unassisted across a high wire strung some 1,300 feet in the air between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. In order to complete the illegal act, Petit had to sneak into the building and surreptitiously mount the heavy wire between the two buildings, which he managed thanks to the help of several accomplices and a bow and arrow. While he was arrested after spending 45 minutes traveling between the towers eight times, Petit’s act remains one of the most memorable acts of public art in New York City history, memorialized in films such as “Man on Wire.”
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1975: Bruce Springsteen releases “Born to Run”
After the commercial failures of his first two albums, Bruce Springsteen took one final shot at music stardom when he released his third album, “Born to Run” on Aug. 25, 1975. An instant classic, Springsteen reportedly wasn’t all that happy with the record initially, throwing his proof copy in a pool and declaring, “Maybe I might just scrap the whole thing. How about that?” Thankfully he didn’t, changing rock and roll forever with songs like “Thunder Road” and “She’s the One.”
1976: Nadia Comaneci’s perfect 10
At the 1976 summer Olympic Games held in Montreal, Nadia Comaneci, a Romanian gymnast, made world history when she won the first perfect 10 ever given in the sport. Unfortunately, the digital scoreboards weren’t able to accommodate a four-digit score, so after Comaneci finished her uneven bar routine they flashed a 1.0, angering the crowd which wasn’t aware of the technical glitch. Nadia went on to repeat the feat six more times throughout the course of the games.
1977: First “Star Wars” movie is released
George Lucas took a huge career gamble when he released “Star Wars: Episode IV– A New Hope” at the start of summer 1977. Many of the executives and filmmakers who saw the movie before its release didn’t enjoy it, and doubted that it would perform well commercially or critically. Fortunately for Lucas, they were wrong, and his gamble paid off when the film instantly became a box office sensation and cultural phenomenon.
1978: “Space Invaders” is released
“Space Invaders,” a space-themed arcade game, was originally released in the summer of 1978. The popularity of the shoot ‘em up game has been compared with that of The Beatles in the ‘60s—overwhelming, all-consuming, and almost cult-like. The success of the game increased the demand for more computer and video games and paved the way for the industry as we know it today.
1979: Sony unveils the Walkman
On July 1, 1979, Sony’s portable cassette player, the Walkman, hit store shelves, selling for $150. While the first month of sales for the device was disappointing, it took off after that, and Walkman became Sony’s top-performing brand. Before the retirement of the portable cassette player in 2010, 200 million of them had been sold, providing a foundation for the portable music devices we all carry with us today.
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