A Brief History
On July 1, 1957, the International Geophysical Year began. The IGY was a cooperative scientific effort by 67 countries (there were under 100 countries in the world then, 200 now). In an effort to minimize Cold War tensions, scientists from these countries would work in harmony for the advancement of mankind. The IGY would last until December 31, 1958 (which you may notice is more than 1 year). Things were different then, and here we point out 20 things that did not yet exist or were different then as opposed to now.
20. Mobile Phones.
No satellites, no satellite phones. No cell towers, no cell phones. Not only that, the telephone in your house certainly did not have mobile units to pick up and walk around with. Most homes had one telephone and it was hardwired into the wall and did not have a removable plug in jack. As far as that goes, many people had what was known as a party line, where 2 or more houses actually shared the same phone line and sometimes you had to wait until your neighbor stopped gabbing to make a call.
19. Telephone FAX Machine.
Although various forms of fax machines were experimented with for over 100 years, the fax machine as we know it first appeared as a commercially viable device in 1964, introduced by Xerox.
18. African-American Managers or Head Coaches.
Although professional sports had become integrated, there would not be a major league African-American manager or head coach until Frank Robinson became the Cleveland Indian’s manager in 1975.
17. African American Mayors.
Although many cities had large African-American populations, “white flight” had not yet become the national pastime. The first African-American mayor of a major US city was Carl Stokes in Cleveland in 1967. (At the time, Cleveland was the 7th biggest city in the country.)
16. Home Video.
Home video in those days was old fashioned movie film, usually 8mm. Betamax and VCR were somewhere in the future, and Laser Disc and DVD were the stuff of dreams.
15. Car Stereo.
Car radios back then were AM with one speaker mounted in the front. If you wanted FM you had it installed. Car stereo came about in 1969, and of course in 1957 there was no satellite radio, no cassette or 8-track tapes and no CD’s let alone MP3. As far as that goes, there was no car video, either.
14. Auto Safety.
Cars were so unsafe in 1957 it is ridiculous by today’s standards. The first car to have standard seat belts was the 1958 Saab, and some the other safety features absent or not required on cars then included anti-whiplash seats (head restraints or high backs), 3 point seat belts, airbags, anti-lock brakes, padded dashboards, energy absorbing steering wheels, crumple zones, side protection door beams, side marker lights, steel or Kevlar belted radial tires, all-season tires, and others.
13. Private Jets.
Although military jets were flying in World War II, it was not until 1963 that the first Learjet and first Dassault business jet made their first flights.
12. Hyundai Cars.
It is hard to believe that the world’s 4th largest car manufacturer (5th depending on source) did not even exist until December 29, 1967, but in 1957 this massive company was still 10 years away.
11. Honda Automobiles.
Honda is today the second largest Japanese car manufacturer and the eighth largest in the world, but in 1957 they did not even make cars (just motorcycles and motors). They first made cars and trucks starting in 1963.
10. Color TV in Canada.
Although the first US commercial television transmission was made in 1954, Canada did not have their first color TV transmission until 1966.
9. Sodomy Laws.
Although some places persist in trying to tell others how to live their private lives, back then sex between same sex pairs was illegal virtually everywhere in the US.
8. Personal Computers.
Back then computers were still giant bulky things that could only be used by the government and scientific researchers or the highest tech companies. Obviously there was no Internet, either, nor was there email.
Many countries exist today that did not exist as separate countries in 1957. At that time there were well under 100 countries in the world, and today there are about 206 (too many new ones to list separately).
6. Racial Segregation.
The South was still segregated by state and local laws, while the North was segregated by practice rather than by law.
5. Inter-racial Marriage.
Back then, several states still had laws forbidding inter-racial marriage.
4. Canadian National Anthem.
In existence for 100 years before being adopted as the Canadian National Anthem in 1980, O Canada has changed over the years until its final English form was made official in 1980. The French words have remained the same.
Back then people did not have to worry about nuclear weapons falling on them from space (only from bomber aircraft). The ICBM was not successfully tested until August of 1957.
2. Man-made Satellite.
Until Sputnik was launched by the Soviets in October of 1957, there had never been a man-made object in orbit. No satellites, no men in space, and no space junk floating around up there. With no satellites, there of course could be no GPS or satellite television.
1. 50 States.
In 1957 there were still only 48 states in the United States. The US would not have 50 states until Hawaii was added in 1959.
Question for students (and subscribers): What items would you include? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Spengler, Kremena. An Illustrated Timeline of Inventions and Inventors (Visual Timelines in History). Picture Window Books, 2011.