1979: Double-Digit Inflation, Three Mile Island, U.S. Hostages in Iran
By Patrick Mondout
Inflation rates, which hit 13.3% for the first time in 33 years, peace
between Egypt and Israel, the nuclear
accident at Three Mile Island, and the hostage
crisis in Iran were the major stories of 1979.
January 11: A 1,200+ page report is issued by
U.S. Surgeon General Julius Richmond which contain overwhelming evidence
that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer and heart disease. The tobacco
industry denies the charges and continued killing 300,000 people a year in
the U.S. and unknown millions overseas.
January 21: The Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the
Dallas Cowboys 35-31 in Super
February 1: Patty
Hearst is released from from a federal prison after serving only 22
months of a seven-year sentence.
February 1: Exiled religious extremist Ayatollah
Khomeini returns to Iran from France hoping to establish an Islamic state.
February 19: Ensuring a cure for insomniacs
everywhere, live coverage of the U.S. House of Representatives begins.
February 26: The last total solar eclipse of the
century is seen throughout the northwestern U.S.
March 5: Voyager
I arrives at Jupiter and discovers a faint ring system.
March 26: Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin
and Egypt's Anwar Sadat sign a peace treaty at the White House ending
31-years of hostilities between the nations.
March 28: The most serious nuclear
accident in U.S. history occurs at the Three Mile Island Nuclear
station in Pennsylvania.
March 29: After his Labour party loses a
parliamentary vote of confidence, British Prime Minister James Callaghan
submits his resignation. Elections are to be held May 3.
March 31: Unhappy that Egypt has agreed to peace
with Israel, the 18 members of the Arab League pass resolutions severing
all diplomatic and economic ties with Egypt.
April 4: Former Pakistani Prime Minister
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is executed for his role in the murder of his
May 4: Margaret Thatcher becomes the first
female prime minister of Britain following elections which thrust her
Conservative Party into power.
May 22: Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's
11-year reign comes to an end when his party loses their majority to Joe
Clark and the confusingly named Progressive Conservatives.
May 23: Former Nazi Party member Karl Carstens
is elected president of West Germany.
May 25: In the worst aviation accident in U.S.
history, 272 are killed when an America
Airlines DC-10 crashes shortly after takeoff in Chicago after the left
engine falls off.
May 28: Greece becomes the 10th member of the
European Common Market.
June 1: Rhodesia ends 80 years of white rule
with a new constitution and a new name: Zimbabwe.
June 6: Responding to the May 25th accident, the
FAA grounds all 138 U.S.-based DC-10s
pending investigations into the engine mount assembly.
June 11: Actor John
Wayne dies of cancer at age 72.
June 28: OPEC officials, meeting in Geneva,
agree on prices of $18 to $23.50 per barrel. This represents a 50%
July 11: Skylab
makes its return visit to earth scattering itself over the Indian Ocean
and Australia as it broke up upon reentry.
July 13: The FAA ban on DC-10s
(see June 6) is lifted.
July 16: President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr of Iraq,
suffering from ill health, names General Saddam Hussein as his successor.
July 17: President Somoza of Nicaragua and many
of his closest advisors flee to Miami as the Sandanista rebels approach
July 18: The price of gold reaches $300/ounce in
world markets for the first time.
July 19: A seven-week civil war ends in
Nicaragua with the Sandinistas in control of the capital.
July 31: Chairman John Riccardo of Chrysler begs
Congress for $1B in cash after announcing $207M in losses for the previous
August 2: New York Yankee's catcher Thurman
Munson, was killed in a fiery plane crash a few hundred feet short of a
runway in Canton, OH.
August 15: U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
Andrew Young resigns after reports surface that he has held unauthorized
meetings with member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
August 27: Irish terrorists murder Earl
Mountbatten of Burma in an IRA
September 1: Pioneer
11 becomes the first probe to take pictures from Saturn.
September 6: President Carter commutes the
sentences of four Puerto Rican nationalists who were convicted of
terrorist activities in the 1950s.
November 4: Muslim students in Tehran seize
the U.S. embassy in Iran and hold 52 Americans hostage. Most will
remain hostages for the remainder of the Carter administration.
November 22: Thirteen of the 62 America hostages
in Iran are released.
November 25: U.N. Secretary General Kurt
Waldheim calls for an emergency meetings of the Security Council to
deal with the situation in Iran.
December 3: Eleven are trampled to death at a
The Who concert in Cincinnati when impatient fans with "festival
seating" tickets rush the doors.
December 26: The price of gold reaches an
impressive $500/ounce for the first time (see July 18).
December 29: The first reports of Soviet troops
entering Afghanistan are made.