Welcome to the 1970's

The 70s were a time of innovation on a global scale. Giant leaps in science and technology were made, as the spirit of discovery and exploration took hold. Development reached its height with the ambitious Voyager programme, and the birth of modern computing occurred with the introduction of the world’s first microprocessor.

Scroll through here for a brief overview of the innovations of the 1970's:

External Influences

The Cold War: Between 1949 and 1989 the “cold” war split the “Eastern” and Western blocs of the world within a significant arms race. On either side, scientists, military engineers and surgeons pioneered techniques to attempt to overtake each other and give their respective blocs a military advantage. The Soviet bloc and NATO competed both in military and civilian endeavors. The climate of the 1970s was a significant influence on increasing spending and scientific endeavours.

The Vietnam War: Similar to the cold war, the Vietnam war caused changes in the Western bloc’s. Significant advancements were made in the areas of civil technology and military technology.

Civil Rights Movement: Throughout the world in the 1960’s great civil upheaval had created a huge number of new skilled and unskilled workers. In the 1970s this expansion of the workforce, especially in Australia and the United States, had created new demand and new minds willing to work on problems. This caused a significant technological boom in the 1970s.

The Political Climate: In the 1970s, particularly in Australia, there was a shift for change. In America, Watergate began, in Australia in 1972 Whitlam’s government took power. In the Soviet Bloc Leonid Brezhnev led the Soviet union.

Internal Influences

Technology in the 1970s advanced significantly. Between 1970 and 1979, numerous advances were made in all fields of technology. In 1975 about 90% of Australian households had a black and white TV set. In this same year, colour television was launched in Australia. By 1978, 70% of Australia's owned a colour TV set.

In 1974, FM radio first transmitted in Australia, in Sydney. New stations, such as the ones that became SBS, were set up and transmitted in multiple languages. Advertising became commonplace through these new mediums. Movie advertising, television and radio advertising became key in the Australian culture. New telephones, without dials, and new international dialing connected Australians.

Early video games and television shifted all parts of Australian culture, showing the effects of technology. Music expanded in Australia and worldwide through the decade, and was key in shifting attitudes.The space race was key in the 1970s. In 1972, the final moon landing commenced and in 1973 Skylab was launched. There were also setbacks, such as the 1970 Apollo 13 launch. Fibre optics were developed, and so were pocket calculators. Barcodes appeared, and MRI machines started development in the US. VCRs were invented and the first email was sent in 1971.

In 1978, the first test tube baby was born, Louise Brown, nodding at a number of scientific achievements.

Impacts on Australia:

Technology impacted ALL aspects of Australian society. Television opened the eyes of everyone to all of the events of the world, as did FM private radio. These advances created and fostered the protests of the decade.

Other technology such as computing also influenced society. Calculators and Barcodes revolutionised shopping and all aspects of commercial work. Containers in the 1970s, although not a 1970s invention caused changes in the jobs and work in many parts of Australia. The advances in shipping and containers changed work patterns and expedited the process of globalisation and connecting Australia to the world.