Pop Culture in Review for the Year 1976

1976’s Pop culture was unique in its way. It had the grunge of pre-1975 and vibrancy of the 80s. Major technological shifts were occurring; more and more households now had color televisions.  VHS allowed the viewers to record their favorite shows and watch them later.  Jimmy Carter became the 39th President, and the Civil Rights Movement was on peak.

Following are the major highlights from 1976:



‘Rocky’ proved to be the breakthrough role for Sylvester Stallone. Released in 1976, Rocky follows the story of a lesser-known boxer in Philadelphia, struggling to make both ends meet. Sylvester plays the lead role of Rocky Balboa, who’s willing to give everything he has, just to become big in boxing.

At the same time, the reigning boxing champion Apollo Creed played by Carl Weathers, has to call out a local contender from Philadelphia because the real opponent goes absent. Subsequently, Creed selects Rocky from the list of contenders as his opponent for the final match.

Rocky is often touted as the most influential sports drama film ever made. It was the highest-grossing film of 1976.

 Taxi Driver:

 The film captures the morally depraved reality of the 70s New York, where everything changes as soon as the sun goes down. Taxi Driver tackles the issues of modern men such as insomnia, depression, hypersensitive behaviors, and, most importantly, self-imposed isolation.

Robert De Niro plays the lead role as Travis Bickle, who makes his living through a taxi. Travis suffers from a plethora of mental issues, which make him insufferable at times. He sets out to murder anyone that remotely hurts his sentiments, and that includes a presidential candidate and a child prostitute pimp.

Taxi Driver was a success at the box, with earning over $68k in the first week. It was nominated for four Academy Awards and won the 1976 Cannes Film Festival. The movie is still celebrated to this day because of how mental health issues are depicted in it.

 King Kong:

 It was the remake of the classic 1933 movie with the same name, albeit now with improved cinematography, visuals, and brand-new faces. The film is set in 1976 and features the World Trade Center in the climax scene as well as in the promotional art for the film.

It follows the journey of a larger than life ape living peacefully on an Island. Upon his discovery, he is captured and then transported to the United States, where he fears for his life and becomes distressed.

‘King Kong’ was a commercial success and made almost three times its budget. Critics highly praised it for its use of new technology, which special effects possible. King Kong cleared the path for several upcoming movies that also made the use of special effects.


 Frampton Comes Alive!

 Peter Frampton’sFrampton Comes Alive!was released on January 6, 1976, and it became an instant success. It is one of the greatest live-selling albums to this date. Frampton Comes Alive!paved the way for future rock bands to come.

It was voted as the album of the year by Rolling Stones, and in their latest all-time album rankings, it is placed third.

 Paul McCartney’s Wings:

 Paul’s career as a generational talent didn’t stop after breaking apart from the Beatles. In 1976, Wings released their fifth studio album,Wings at the Speed of Sound. It proved to be a success at Billboard with ranking #1 in the US and #2 in the UK.

The single Silly Love Song also reached the number one spot in the United States, further stamping the success of Wings as a group.

 AC/DC’s International Debut:

Australian hard-rock stepped on the global scene after two successful years as a band in Australia. AC/DC released their first international album,High Voltage, to the global audience.  It sold over three million copies in the US alone.  The critics praised it for bringing in a new flavor to the hard rock genre.

This proved to be the defining moment for AC/DC and established their fan following all over the world.

Blondie Debut

NY based band made their debut with their first album named Blondie. The band consisted of lead singer Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, and Clem Burke as the guitarist and drummer, respectively.

Although their first album didn’t have any major hits, it was enough to make their way into the future. Blondie also received Gold Certification in the UK.

 Eagles’ Hotel California

 Joe Walsh had just joined the American Rock band ‘Eagles,’ and it was time for him to take his place in the heart of die-hard fans. Hotel Californiawas Eagles’ first album after signing Joe Walsh.

It was released in December 1976 and quickly topped the sales charts everywhere. It even received a Grammy award for being the record of the year. It was also nominated for the Album of the Year.

 ABBA’s Arrival

Till 1976, ABBA’s popularity could only be gauged in Sweden and Europe. However, with the release of their fourth studio album, they became a household name. Arrival had hits like Dancing Queen and Money MoneyMoney.

Arrival later became the best-selling album in the UK, with over 1.6 million sales.


Apple is Founded

Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne formed a company from a garage called ‘Apple.’ Their main target was to build a functional computer system that could later be marketed and sold.

Their first revolutionary product came in the form of ‘Apple I’; it lacked a display, keyboard, casing, and a mouse too. It could be attached to a TV to get output from it. Apple I was marketed as the computer for the ordinary people, as it didn’t require an extensive learning curve.

Apple I was a success straight away; they built around 200 units and sold more than 100 of them. Jobs wanted to take this to the next level and released Apple II the following year.

Viking 1 lands on Mars

Viking 1 was launched back in August 1975, and finally, after a long journey, it safely soft-landed on Mars surface. The main objective behind sending Viking 1 to Mars was to look for any possible signs of life.

To carry out this mission, Viking 1 incorporated various biological tests and experiments. However, it wasn’t able to find any signs of life. It carried out its mission for over six years before going out of operation in 1982.  Viking 1 was also responsible for the famous ‘Face on Mars’ photo released by NASA.

Cray-1 Supercomputer Becomes Operational:

Announced in 1975, the Cray-1 computer was finally installedin Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1976. It became popular with its C-shape design, which housed power cables and a cooling system.

It was the first computer to be able to process vectors. This made handling large sets of data fairly easy by the quick arrangement of available registers. It was designed by Seymour Cray.

First Word Processor is Released

Electric Pencil became the world’s firstword processor. Michael Shrayer saw an opportunity and wrote the code for the word processor himself. At first, he wasn’t able to market his software; later, he formed his own company.

It worked on IBM PC and required only 8Kb of RAM.

VHS is introduced

JVC introduced their first VHS (Video Home System) to compete with Sony’s Betamax format of magnetic storage. However, VHS proved to be a success, and by the 1980s, more than 60% of households in the United States were making use of VHS tapes.


Super Bowl X

Super Bowl X was contested between Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers. It was the third time Dallas was entering the Super Bowl. Dallas Cowboys won 2 straight penalties, whereas the Steelers went without getting one.

Steelers claimed the victory after a thrilling final quarter and ceasing the Cowboys from scoring points. It is still remembered as one of the most thrilling Super Bowl matches of all time, especially because of the nerve-wracking tension in the final quarter.

Cincinnati Reds win the Baseball World Series

It was the first Baseball World Series that had the designated hitter rule in effect. According to this rule, a DH (Designated Hitter) is the one who bats in place of the pitcher. The Red won the series with ten games in hand.

Reds took full advantage of the new DH rule by allowing Dan Driessen to bat. The Reds became the last team to win back-to-back world series.

1976 Olympics Canada

Canada had put forwarded a bid to host the 1976 Olympics back in 1970, which was accepted. The majority of African countries boycotted from the 1976 Olympics since New Zealand wasn’t barred from participating in it.

The Soviet Union stood out on top and won the most medals (125). East Germany came second 90 medals, and the United States came third with 94 medals (East Germany had more Gold medals than the United States).


Relaxed Office Look:

1976 was tilting away from the rugged and suited office environments. Men took a more relaxed approach when going for their desk jobs. A nice plaid jacket, mostly of red and green accents, some soft flannel pants, and a perfectly matched vest, was all that was required.

Some offices issued a dress code; however, most of them remained lenient on it.

 Casual Became the Norm:

It wasn’t uncommon to see men with velvet tuxedos wearing casual pants. Moreover, people used to go dressed casually to their formal events without having second thoughts.

The same happened with women’s fashion; bow-tied blouses became the go-to dressing for women. Pinstripe pantsuits became more popular among women in the corporate sector.


Billion Eyes on Olympics:

With the advent of cheaper technology, more and more people were able to afford Television. With improved technology, it was easy for broadcasters to broadcast live games over the satellite.

Olympics was the first tournament that was broadcasted and gained a billion viewers throughout its runtime.

Gone with The Wind comes on TV

After having immense success in the box office, Gone with The Wind made its way to the smaller TV screens. NBC paid over $5million to secure the rights to broadcast it, and it paid off as well. To this day, Gone with The Win’ maintains the record for the most viewed movie on Television of all-time.

Family Feud started

Family Feud first aired on July 12, 1976, and it quickly became the premier game show during the daytime. It is a family game show where teams participate and compete against each other. There are several games and themes according to which the show progresses.

To this day, Family Feud airs, and people still participate with their families.


 Argentine Military Coup

 After the death of Juan Peron, his wife, who was then the vice-president, assumed the office as the President. The military didn’t support Isabel Peron; hence there was an attempt to overthrow her government and establish a coup d’état.

The entire coup was pre-planned in 1975, and it was successful in 1976. Isabel Peron was arrested and then exiled in 1981.

Jimmy Carter wins the Presidential Elections

Jimmy Carter spent the entire 1976 campaigning under the Democrat banner; eventually, his hard work bore fruit, and he was elected as the 39th President of the United States. Carter selected Senator Walter F. Mondale as his running mate.

After 1960, Presidential debates were reinstated again in 1976, and Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter faced off each other during debates three times. Each debate was broadcasted on Television as well.

Civil Rights Breakthrough

As a result of on-going Civil Rights movements, the US Supreme Court ruled that blacks and other minorities will have job seniority. Finally, it was now a crime to reject a person’s job based on race, religion, or sex.

However, the claimant had to prove that he/she was denied the job on racial factors; otherwise, there would be no job seniority at all.


1976 involved some major shifts in the world, especially the technological world. Apple was on the scene now and was eager for more. Carter got elected as the President, and the Civil Rights movement was getting momentum. The world was progressing towards a more peaceful and accepting ideal.

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