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.
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.
Needless to say, a lot's changed in the meantime. Here are some of the biggest differences between now and then:
Everyone was rushing out to theaters to see
The Deer Hunter, the No. 1 movie at the box office.
Why yes, that
is a young Christopher Walken in the anti-war movie that was a smash hit!
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
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.
This was the cover of Time magazine.
Singer John Denver and his wife were on the cover of People magazine.
And this was the cover of GQ.
The median price of a new house in the US was
Anyone driving to see the eclipse in a new car would've spent about
$5,500 on it.
And they would've paid 74.5 cents a gallon for unleaded regular gas — which was high for the time.
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.
This is what one of the most popular computers looked like.
O.J. Simpson was still playing in the NFL.
He played his last NFL game, with the San Francisco 49ers, on
Dec. 16, 1979.
You could still smoke on planes.
It was legal to do so on domestic flights
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.
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.
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!
And they had no idea they'd be listening to those songs on a fancy new invention called the Walkman, which Sony would introduce
The first ones cost $150.
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
And queen Meryl Streep had yet to make a single appearance at the Oscars.
She would attend her first ceremony — and win for
Kramer vs. Kramer —
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