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21 Ways The US Was Totally Different The Last Time It Saw A Total Solar Eclipse

It's been 38 years since a total solar eclipse has hit the mainland US.

Posted on August 9, 2017, at 10:01 a.m. ET

In case you haven't been paying attention, a total solar eclipse is going to sweep across a large portion of the continental United States on Aug. 21, and if it seems like people are making a big deal about it, it's because it's a really big deal!

NASA / Via

Total solar eclipses — where the moon completely blocks the sun — are relatively frequent, and occur approximately once every 18 months.

It's a lot more rare, though, for one to be seen from the US. In fact, the last one that Americans got to enjoy from the mainland was 38 years ago, on Feb. 26, 1979.

Adult Swim

Needless to say, a lot's changed in the meantime. Here are some of the biggest differences between now and then:

1. In February 1979, the No. 1 song in the country was Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

View this video on YouTube

What a time to be alive.

2. Everyone was rushing out to theaters to see The Deer Hunter, the No. 1 movie at the box office.

Universal Pictures

Why yes, that is a young Christopher Walken in the anti-war movie that was a smash hit!

3. Aaand the most popular TV show in the country was 60 Minutes.


For comparison, the most popular show from the 2016–17 television season was The Walking Dead.

4. Jimmy Carter was the president.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

And 1979 was a rough time for the US — the Iran hostage crisis happened that year, as did the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, among other trying events. Carter would deliver his infamous "malaise" speech that July.

5. This was the cover of Time magazine.


6. Singer John Denver and his wife were on the cover of People magazine.


7. And this was the cover of GQ.


8. The median price of a new house in the US was $61,200.

Getty Images

As of June, it's $310,800.

9. Anyone driving to see the eclipse in a new car would've spent about $5,500 on it.

Getty Images

10. And they would've paid 74.5 cents a gallon for unleaded regular gas — which was high for the time.

Getty Images

That year, the US experienced a major energy crisis, nationwide gas shortages, and long lines at gas stations as a result of the Iranian Revolution.

11. This is what one of the most popular computers looked like.

First introduced in 1977, the Apple II was the personal computer.

12. O.J. Simpson was still playing in the NFL.

Getty Images

He played his last NFL game, with the San Francisco 49ers, on Dec. 16, 1979.

13. You could still smoke on planes.

Paramount Pictures

It was legal to do so on domestic flights until 1988!

14. Baby carrots just didn't exist, and wouldn't for another seven years.

Djm-photo / Getty Images

Mike Yurosek, a carrot farmer from California, invented the veggie snacks as a way to get use out of misshapen full-sized carrots in 1986.

15. Birth control pill usage was about to plummet, and diaphragm sales were about to go way up.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

In 1979, sales of the pill dropped by 24% in four years. Women reportedly became anxious about the health risks of ingesting a daily pill, and began seeking out more "mechanical means," like diaphragms.

16. People were living in a pre–Michael Jackson's "Rock With You" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" world.


His record-breaking album Off the Wall, which featured those two hits and more, came out that August. He hadn't even won a Grammy yet!

17. And they had no idea they'd be listening to those songs on a fancy new invention called the Walkman, which Sony would introduce that July.

View this video on YouTube

The first ones cost $150.

18. Forget fidget spinners — kiddos everywhere were playing Simon until their fingers fell off.

Electronic toys like Simon were some of the most popular Christmas presents of 1978.

19. And they were collecting Star Wars action figures like the Millennium Falcon depended on it.

20. A golden age of video games was dawning, and everyone was clamoring over Space Invaders.

Asteroids wouldn't come out until later in 1979.

21. And queen Meryl Streep had yet to make a single appearance at the Oscars.

Getty Images

She would attend her first ceremony — and win for Kramer vs. Kramer

that April.

See all of BuzzFeed's eclipse content here!

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.