If you're celebrating a 50th birthday or anniversary this year, you're in excellent company. From the first e-mail to McDonald's Quarter Pounder, 1971 was a year full of change. Here are 50 people, places, things, and events celebrating their own 50th birthday in 2021.

1. Walt Disney World

Jacqueline Nell/Disneyland Resort, Getty Images

Following the success of Disneyland in Anaheim, California, Walt Disney began searching for a location for a second theme park in 1959. After Walt's death in 1966, his brother Roy O. Disney continued the search and also insisted that the name of the theme park be changed from Disney World to Walt Disney World to act as a remembrance of his brother.

“Walt Disney World is in memory of the man who started it all, so people will know his name as long as Walt Disney World is here,” Roy said during his dedication of the park, which opened in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on October 1, 1971. Back then, tickets cost $3.50 for adults, $2.50 for teens, and $1 for kids under 12. —Scott Beggs

2. Apollo 14 Mission

NASA, Public Domain

Walking on the moon? Sure. It’s cool. But have you played golf on the moon? Alan Shepard did. Admittedly, it seems like a really long way to go to play a few rounds, but the Apollo 14 astronauts also collected 94 pounds of rock, so maybe it was all worth it. Jokes aside, it was a major moment in space exploration because it followed the nearly-fatal, film-worthy Apollo 13 mission and showed how NASA and its astronauts could bounce back. —SB

3. A Clockwork Orange

Malcolm McDowell in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971).Warner Home Video

Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s dystopian novel takes place in a psychedelic near-future populated by gangs of violent teenagers with their own Russian-derived slang. Alex, the ringleader of his droogs (friends), narrates his journey from murder and mayhem to potentially productive citizen as society attempts to reform him with the diabolical Ludovico Technique. Kubrick’s critique of authoritarianism is one of only two X-rated films to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar (the other was Midnight Cowboy, which took home the Oscar statuette). —Kat Long

4. First Email

Jelena Danilovic/iStock via Getty Images

Take some time out of your busy year to thank Ray Tomlinson. The MIT graduate, who worked for the company contracted by the Department of Defense to build ARPANET, spent his downtime developing a program for sending mail, get this, electronically, with a software program called “SNDMSG.” He’s also responsible for making @ the most important symbol of our age. —SB

5. McDonald’s Quarter Pounder

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Although Mickey D’s started out selling barbecue in 1940, the convenient restaurant chain revolutionized itself (and the industry) when it started selling cheap, fast hamburgers. The Big Mac was its first branded burger, but the irresistibly simple 4-ounce burger with ketchup, mustard, slivered onions, and two dill pickles called The Quarter Pounder was born in 1971 and added to the national menu just two years later. We’re guessing “The Four Ouncer” doesn’t sound as filling. —SB

6. All In the Family

Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton star as Archie and Edith Bunker in All In the Family.CBS, Public Domain

On January 12, 1971, the television landscape was forever altered with the premiere of Norman Lear’s All in the Family. It even came with a disclaimer: "The program you are about to see is All in the Family. It seeks to throw a humorous spotlight on our frailties, prejudices, and concerns. By making them a source of laughter, we hope to show—in a mature fashion—just how absurd they are." Though All In the Family was undoubtedly a comedy, the series wasn’t afraid to tackle then-taboo issues such as racism, homosexuality, and even rape head-on. Archie Bunker and his family reinvented the typical sitcom family, and television hasn’t been the same since. —Jennifer M. Wood


Ajay Suresh from New York, NY, USA - NASDAQ MarketWatchAjay Suresh, NASDAQ MarketWatch // Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0

It’s easy to think of stock exchanges as old stone buildings that have been around since shortly after the first rock was traded for a lizard, but each has its own history. For NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations), that means being the first electronic stock market. Today it represents more than 18,000 corporations and more than $10 trillion. —SB

8. Janis Joplin's Pearl

Janis Joplin in Brazil in 1970.Arquivo Nacional, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

On January 11, 1971—three months after her death from a heroin overdose—Janis Joplin’s second and final studio album, Pearl, was released. The album went all the way to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and remained there for nine weeks; in July 2000, it was certified as quadruple platinum. Pearl has regularly been ranked among the greatest albums of all time, and with songs like “Me and Bobby McGee,” it solidified Joplin’s reputation as one of history’s most iconic rockers. —JMW

9. Salyut 1 Launched Into Low Orbit

Russian cosmonauts Georgi Dobrovolski, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev of the Soyuz 11 space mission in June 1971.
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In 1971, humanity got its first space station. Launched by the Soviet Union, Salyut 1 was 65 feet long and spent 175 days in space with the express purpose of giving cosmonauts a place to live longer-term. The first attempt to enter the station failed (they docked but couldn’t open the hatch), but the second attempt made by Georgi Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Vokov, and Viktor Patsayev was successful, and they spent over three weeks inside. Tragically, all three pioneers died when a ventilation valve in the Soyuz 11 spacecraft opened during re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere, and no further attempts were made to dock with Salyut 1. —SB

10. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971).Warner Home Video

Seven years after Roald Dahl published Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the film adaptation arrived on screen—delighting (and also probably scaring, thanks to a certain boat cruise) its first generation of viewers. Gene Wilder accepted the part of Willy Wonka on one condition: that he be allowed to limp out and fall into an unexpected somersault. Fortunately, director Mel Stuart agreed. —Ellen Gutoskey

11. Tupac Shakur

Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur at the MTV Music Awards on September 4, 1996 in New York City, New York. Tupac was shot three days later in Las Vegas.Manny Hernandez/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Tupac Shakur was just 25 years old when he was fatally shot by a still-unknown assailant in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996. Though his life was cut tragically short, the musician/actor—who was born on June 16, 1971—made an enormous impact on the music world for his unmatched ability to write about the realities of inner-city life in a way that made him as much an activist as it did a musician. Today, 2Pac is still largely considered one of the most influential rappers of all time.

Snoop Dogg, who is pictured with Shakur above, will also be celebrating his 50th birthday this year (on October 20), as will rapper-turned-actor Mark "Marky Mark" Wahlberg (June 5). Selena Quintanilla, the universally celebrated Latina singer who was better known simply as "Selena," would also be turning 50 this year; her life was cut short when an obsessed fan/employee shot her on March 31, 1995. —JMW

12. Greenpeace

A 1986 Greenpeace anti-nuclear protest in Sydney, Australia.Patrick Riviere/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Greenpeace—the NGO fighting for environmental conservation, which launched with a Joan Baez concert—chose something big, dramatic, and dangerous for its first mission. On September 15, 1971, a group of activists sailed off the coast of Alaska to disrupt the United States’s test detonation of a nuclear bomb that threatened to cause a tsunami. They put themselves in harm’s way, and even though they didn’t stop that detonation, they gained enough attention and outrage to make the government stop further testing there. Today, their work continues to be more important than ever. —SB

13. Malibu Barbie

A Malibu Barbie reproduction displayed at the 2002 International Toy Fair.Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images

Barbie was born in 1959, but she didn’t go to Malibu until 1971. The iconic fashion doll named after its creator’s daughter hit the beach with a baby blue tricot suit, a yellow beach towel, and “long, long hair you can comb!” Malibu Ken (with bendable legs!) sold separately. —SB

14. Eruption of Mount Etna

An old man watches the lava flow from the erupting Mount Etna as it threatens the Sicilian village of Sant' Alfio in 1971.
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

On April 5, 1971, Mount Etna—continental Europe’s largest volcano— erupted [PDF]. The eruptions continued through May, with the resulting lava destroying the Etna Observatory and threatening several nearby villages. Rather than flee, locals and tourists alike headed toward the lava flow to witness the tremendous show of nature. —Kerry Wolfe

15. Eagles

Eagles band members Don Felder, Don Henley, and Joe Walsh playing live in Tokyo on September 17, 1979.Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

One of the titans of classic rock was formed largely thanks to Linda Ronstadt. Eagles founding members Glen Frey and Don Henley were in her backing band and decided to form their own group, bringing Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner on board to play for Ronstadt as they formulated their own sound. Although the origin of the band’s name is disputed, no one disputes that it came about during a peyote trip in the Mojave Desert. That’s life in the fast lane for you. —SB

16. Sacha Baron Cohen

Sacha Baron CohenAstrid Stawiarz, Getty Images

Not only is Sacha Baron Cohen the premier in-character satirist of this era, he’s peerless. An incendiary genius, Baron Cohen—who was born in London on October 13, 1971—is the only person in the world doing what he does at the level at which he does it. Whether it’s as Borat, Brüno, or any one of his any other onscreen alter egos, Baron Cohen's comedy works not because he tricks the people he’s interviewing into saying horrific, racist, sexist, xenophobic things, but because he makes them feel safe enough to share their worst opinions out loud, on camera. Also turning 50 this year are fellow funny people Amy Poehler (September 16) and Jackass star Johnny Knoxville (March 11). —SB

17. Floppy Disks

8-inch, ​5 1⁄4-inch, and ​3 1⁄2-inch floppy disks.George Chernilevsky, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

It’s poetic that floppy disks and email were invented the same year. One was a forward-looking concept whose inventor had no clear understanding of how massive a phenomenon it would become. The other was a huge relief for everyone who had relied on cumbersome, unreliable punch card technology up to that point. IBM’s “Minnow” was a flexible, portable disk with a whopping 80KB capacity. Scoff if you must (Fortnite would require 212,500 floppy disks), but this incredible invention was the equivalent of 3000 punch cards. A giant time-saver for computer enthusiasts a half-century ago.

Not to be outdone, the world's first microprocessor also debuted in 1971. —SB

18. Mariner 9 Orbits Mars

NASA's Mariner 9 spacecraftNASA, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

On May 30, 1971, nearly two years after Apollo 11 had landed on the moon, NASA took another step forward for all of mankind—or, at least the space shuttle-riding kind—when its Mariner 9 made a trip to Mars and became the first spacecraft to orbit another planet. —JMW

19. NPR and All Things Considered

Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

This ... is NPR’s 50th birthday. The publicly-funded news radio network launched on April 20, 1971, broadcasting the Senate hearings over the Vietnam War. Its flagship news program, All Things Considered, premiered during drive-time a few weeks later. It has been a vital source of news and opinion since its inception, and we cannot wait to see what kind of tote bag they design to celebrate this year's major milestone. —SB

20. The Oregon Trail


The Oregon Trail is 210 years old, but the video game where you try to survive the Oregon Trail without dying of dysentery is now 50. Carleton College students Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger built the base coding for the text-based game in two weeks for a middle school history class Rawitsch was student-teaching. It was an instant hit that spread throughout the school district and later the state. In 1985, R. Philip Bouchard created the graphical version of the game for Apple II, DOS, and Macs, which took a fantastically popular game into hall of fame icon territory. —SB

21. Harold and Maude

Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon star in Hal Ashby's Harold and Maude (1971).FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

A pitch-black comedy directed by Hal Ashby, Harold and Maude stars Bud Cort as a suicidal young man and Rosemary’s Baby scene-stealer Ruth Gordon as the septuagenarian friend who shows him how to live. The movie was panned upon its release in 1971, but later gained a cult following thanks to its uplifting theme, a hilarious turn by actress Vivian Pickles as Harold’s uptight mother, and a memorable soundtrack by Cat Stevens. —KL

22. Monster Cereals

A bowl of Count Chocula cereal.Evan-Amos, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

Until flavor icons Count Chocula and Franken Berry came along, there were no chocolate or strawberry cereals available to buy. Think about that (and shudder), for we truly live in a golden age of gastronomical breakfast abundance. Boo Berry debuted in 1972 (and was featured on the cover of the magazine General Mills printed for very serious stockholders in 1973). Sadly, these cereals are now only available around Halloween, so you will have to wait and stock up then. —SB

23. Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles

Evan-Amos, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

The year 1971 obviously signaled a tectonic shift in kid-focused cereal production because, in addition to monster cereals, we also got Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbels—Post’s sugary concoctions fronted by popular spokestoons. Pebbles Cereal was the first brand crafted around a specific media figure (Fred and Wilma’s daughter on The Flintstones) and still gets eaten to the tune of 1.4 billion bowls every year. —SB

24. David Tennant

Jeff Spicer, Getty Images

Scottish actor David Tennant grew up on a steady diet of Doctor Who, the long-running BBC adventure series about a time-traveling alien. In 2005, Tennant made the role his own and is often cited as a fan favorite among the dozen-odd actors who have occupied the Doctor’s TARDIS. Tennant has since starred in a number of dramas, including Broadchurch and Jessica Jones, but the Who connection endures. In 2011, he married Georgia Moffet—daughter of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison. Fellow Scotsman Ewan McGregor will also be celebrating a half-century on this earth in 2021 (March 31), as will Sherlock star Martin Freeman. —Jake Rossen

25. Charles Manson's Conviction and Sentencing

L.A. County Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi poses in Los Angeles after successfully prosecuting murderer Charles Manson.
George Rose/Hulton Archives/Getty Images

In January 1971, Charles Manson and three of his female followers were convicted of murdering actress Sharon Tate and six other people in August 1969. The trial had captivated the whole nation for more than half a year; even then-President Richard Nixon weighed in on the crimes, asserting that Manson “was guilty, directly or indirectly” (he retracted his remarks after they nearly caused a mistrial). Though all four culprits received the death penalty in March 1971, shifting laws ended up knocking their sentences down to life in prison. Manson died while still incarcerated on November 19, 2017. —EG

26. FedEx

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Frederick W. Smith invented the concept for the global brand with the hidden arrow in its logo in a term paper at Yale, but things didn’t take off until he bought a major stake in the Arkansas Aviation Sales firm. After founding the company, he spent a couple years testing how to get vital packages (like medicine and electronics) across the country overnight. He moved the headquarters to Memphis because it was in the center of the country and barely ever closed its airport due to bad weather, and in April 1973, 14 aircraft took to the skies to deliver the first 186 packages. —SB

27. Pocket Calculator

The Canon Pocketronic is the first "handheld" battery-powered printing electronic calculator.Mister rf, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

In 1971, Texas Instruments released a tool that would prove to be a game changer for math students everywhere: the Canon Pocketronic, a pocket calculator. With the click of a few buttons, people could crank out basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems, with the answers printed on thermal paper tape rather than flashing on a screen. Decades later, TI’s graphing calculators remain a pricey staple in classrooms across the United States. —KW

28. Dirty Harry

Clint Eastwood stars in Dirty Harry (1971).FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives/Hulton Archives via Getty Images

With Clint Eastwood’s unique brand of stoic machismo as its foundation, Dirty Harry slapped an ultra-violent coat of paint onto the typical cop drama and helped usher in a grittier era of action movie. While the film would go on to do huge box office numbers, spawn four sequels, and propel Eastwood to the top of the Hollywood heap, the role of Harry Callahan was originally going to be played by Frank Sinatra until a hand injury forced him to drop out. —Jay Serafino

29. Dodge Ram

A Dodge Ram truck.Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Pull out your spray paint and camper conversions to celebrate. The Dodge B-Series vans were a prize for those who wanted to trick out their ride with customized parts to join the Dodge Van Clan, as well as those who wanted to cruise the country without having to pay for a motel. The only question is whether you paint a Frazetta tribute or a of couple howling lone wolves on the side. —SB

30. Amtrak

A one-of-a-kind paint job on Amtrak 4316 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in August 1971.Roger Puta, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

On May 1, 1971, 20 passenger railroads merged into one. With many of them facing bankruptcy, Congress passed the National Railroad Passenger Service Act to create the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (a.k.a. Amtrak) to ensure continued railway service for travelers of all sorts. Today, approximately 87,000 travelers ride 300-plus Amtrak trains daily [PDF]. —SB

31. 26th Amendment

jaflippo/iStock via Getty Images

On Independence Day in 1971, you could get married, work, pay taxes, and get drafted into the military at the age of 18, but you could not vote. The next day, all that changed when the 26th Amendment (all 48 words of it!) was formally adopted into the Constitution. It instantly added 11 million new voters to the rolls and prohibited states from using age to keep people over 18 from casting a ballot. —SB

32. Death of Jim Morrison

American rock band The Doors—Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger—pose for their first album cover in 1967.Mark and Colleen Hayward/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The world lost one of its most iconic rockers on July 3, 1971, when the Doors’s frontman Jim Morrison was found dead in the tub of his Paris apartment. Like so many other troubled young musicians, Morrison was just 27 years old at the time of his death—a coincidence that earned him membership in what had come to be known as the 27 Club. While his death was attributed to natural causes, many people were suspicious of what had exactly happened.

In 2007, rumors began swirling that police were planning to reinvestigate after a former club manager claimed that Morrison’s death was the result of a drug overdose in the bathroom of a nightclub, and that his body had been moved from the club back to Morrison's home in order to cover up what had happened. His official cause of death has never changed. —JMW

33. Masterpiece Theatre

A scene from Upstairs, Downstairs.Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Though today’s Masterpiece looks a lot different than the Masterpiece Theatre that made its premiere on January 10, 1971, the long-running PBS program has remained “steadfast in [its] commitment to bringing the best in drama to American public television audiences” for half a century now. But it wasn’t an immediate hit. Masterpiece made its debut with the 12-part miniseries The First Churchills. Though it won an Emmy for its lead actress, Susan Hampshire, and earned a nomination for Outstanding Drama Series, legendary host Alistair Cooke seemed shocked that the original miniseries didn’t get Masterpiece canceled altogether. “I sometimes marvel that it did not strangle the program in its cradle,” Cooke said of The First Churchills in 1991. But in the decades since, it has brought major hits like Upstairs, Downstairs; Sherlock; and Downton Abbey to international audiences. —JMW

34. United Arab Emirates Established

The Dubai skyline.Easyturn/E+ via Getty Images

After more than a century of Britain protecting the shores of the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in exchange for economic cooperation from the Emirates, Britain withdrew from the area in 1968. HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, seized on the opportunity to unite the Emirates, and the United Arab Emirates was formalized December 1971, which was comprised of the territories of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm Al-Quwain, Fujairah, and Ajman, with Ra’s al-Khaimah joining the following year. —SB

35. First Chat Room

RichVintage/E+ via Getty Images

If you’ve ever typed “A/S/L?,” you owe a lot to Murray Turoff, who developed the Emergency Management Information Systems and Reference Index (or EMISARI). It was the first multi-machine chat program and a forerunner to all the instant messaging platforms that have continued its legacy by also mostly being about high-level surveys of federal emergency readiness programs and occasionally about which Backstreet Boy was the cutest. —SB

36. Idina Menzel

Idina Menzel and John Travolta at the 2015 Academy Awards.Kevin Winter/Getty Images

For a less prolific performer, having your name botched by John Travolta at the Oscars would have been the defining moment of their career. Luckily for Idina Menzel, she's known for much more than that. After rehabilitating the image of the Wicked Witch of the West in the Broadway smash Wicked, she provided the voice of Elsa the ice queen in Disney's Frozen. When it comes to playing magical ladies who embrace their powers while belting show-tunes, no one does it better than Menzel. —Michele Debczak

37. First CT Scan on a Patient

JohnnyGreig/E+ via Getty Images

Believe it or not, The Beatles are responsible for the CT Scan. Sort of ... The Fab Four's tremendous success and brisk record sales in the 1960s were a boon to their record label, Abbey Road Studios, as well as to the label's parent company, Electric and Music Industries (EMI), which—as the name indicates—dabbled in music as well as electronics (including televisions, business machines, and medical equipment). The company's success as a whole provided the budget they needed to pay for the development of the CT Scan. So if anyone has had their head scanned while listening to “Love Me Do,” then science has come full circle. —SB

38. Klute

Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland star in Klute (1971).FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives/Hulton Archives via Getty Images

Jane Fonda received an Academy Award for Best Actress is this thriller about a call girl named Bree (Fonda) who assists detective John Klute (Donald Sutherland) in a missing persons investigation. It may sound rote, but Alan J. Pakula's Klute rejected many tropes of the genre and portrayed Bree as something more than the victim sex workers are often reduced to in popular culture. —JR

39. Andy Capp's Fries

memoriesarecaptured/iStock via Getty Images

Andy Capp's fries debuted in 1971, and they haven't changed much in the years since. The biggest development came in 1973, just two years after they were first introduced, when Hot Fries made their way to shelves. Today, both varieties are sold in the classic packaging featuring newspaper comic character Andy Capp on every bag. —MD

40. Cigarette Ads Banned From TV

A 1964 ad for Lucky Strike cigarettes.Blank Archives/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It’s no joke that President Nixon signed a law banning cigarette ads from television on April 1, 1970. Effective as of January 2, 1971, the final cigarette commercial was aired during an episode of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Until the early 2010s, that is. Since they don’t have tobacco, electronic cigarettes found an effective loophole in the law, and commercials for them started popping back up again. —SB

41. Kevlar

PragasitLalao/iStock via Getty Images

Stephanie Kwolek’s team at DuPont developed Kevlar—these days known primarily for its use in ballistic armor—while trying to build a better, more durable, lighter weight tire. Poly(p-phenylene terephthalamide) hit the market in 1971 and has been used as a replacement for steel (which it’s five times stronger than) in everything from drum heads to racing sails. —SB

42. Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education Upheld by Supreme Court

Integrated busing in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1973.Warren K. Leffler, U.S. News & World Report Magazine, Library of Congress // Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Vice president Kamala Harris made waves at the June 2019 Democratic Presidential debate when she criticized now-president Joe Biden for opposing busing programs that she had benefited from in the 1970s. The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education is what made many of those programs possible. At the heart of the lawsuit were Vera and Darius Swann, who sued the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District so that their 6-year-old son could attend the school closest to their home, which was integrated. If Brown v Board of Education made integrated schools a right, Swann made them more of a reality. —SB

43. The Pentagon Papers

McGeorge Bundy, White House - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston // Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The voluminous “Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force,” outlining the United States’s true intent and methods in the Vietnam War, became known as The Pentagon Papers very quickly after selected parts were published in The New York Times in June 1971. The Nixon Administration sued the paper and The Washington Post for publishing the Pentagon Papers, but the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the newspapers, with Justice Hugo Black writing, “Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.” —SB

44. THX 1138

Robert Duvall stars in George Lucas's THX 1138 (1971).Warner Home Video

Years before X-wings and TIE fighters popped into his head, writer/director George Lucas had a far more ominous vision for sci-fi cinema with THX 1138. Greatly expanding upon a student film he directed at USC in 1967 [PDF], this cold look at a totalitarian future focuses on a lone worker (Robert Duvall) who attempts to break free from a system that enforces thought control and conformity through the use of police androids. —JS

45. Swiss Women Get the Vote

Jules Vogt, ETH-Bibliothek // Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

In 1959, Switzerland voted against recognizing women’s right to vote by a 2-to-1 margin. In February 1971, they voted 2-to-1 to ensure that women could vote and run for parliament. It was a profound reversal in a short amount of time, and in 1999, President Ruth Dreifuss became the first woman to serve as president of Switzerland, earning the office less than three decades after women secured the vote. —SB

46. Attica Prison Riot

Jayu via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

An outright tragedy that led to a $2.8 billion class-action lawsuit, the insurrection at the Attica Correctional Facility is still the largest prison riot in United States history. It started on September 9, 1971, when—seemingly out of nowhere—prisoners suddenly began to commit acts of violence against the guards around them, and eventually gained control of an exercise yard. The prisoners took hostages and made demands for better living conditions, religious freedom, and freer communication outside the prison. It ended in a bloody, poorly-executed attack wherein police dropped tear gas and fired 3000 rounds into the resulting fog; 29 inmates and 10 hostages were killed, while 89 others were wounded. —SB

47. The Sylmar Earthquake

Aerial view of a collapsed highway overpass following the 1971 San Fernando earthquake.Reuben Kachadoorian, USGS // Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The Sylmar Earthquake (also known as the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake) only lasted 12 seconds, but it caused more than $500 million in property damage and killed more than 60 people. The earthquake in the northernmost area of Los Angeles registered a 6.5 on the surface-wave magnitude scale. If there’s a silver lining, it was that the damage and destruction led to major changes in how and where buildings are constructed in California. —SB

48. Hamburger Helper

LauriPatterson/E+ via Getty Images

In the late 1960s, General Mills saw a market need in the worsening American economy and decided to release a line of boxed dinners meant to stretch the value of a pound of hamburger. Their fatal flaw (according to the company) was that these packaged dinners required more than one pan to make. They solved that problem with Hamburger Helper, which hit shelves nationwide in 1971 with five flavors: Potato Stroganoff, Hash, Rich Oriental, Beef Noodle, and Chili Tomato. In a signal of unmitigated success, more than one in four households in the United States bought the product in its first year. Now it’s an icon with a strangely humanoid glove as its spokeshand. —SB

49. First Soft Contact Lenses

belchonock/iStock via Getty Images

The comfier version of contact lenses didn’t exist until 1971, and now they represent more than 90 percent of all contact lense sold in the United States. That’s about 100 years after the first lenses were developed (either by a German glassblower or a Swiss physician and French optician). For those who don’t want to bother with them, they can get their cornea sliced open or ground off to get better vision. —SB

50. Chay Blyth Sails the World in the Wrong Direction

Well-wishers waiting to greet round-the-world yachtsman Chay Blyth, at the completion of his 30,000-mile trip at Hamble, Hampshire in 1971.Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Move over, Magellan. Chay Blyth sailed the entire world going in the “wrong” direction—against prevailing winds and currents. Of the 30,000-mile, 292-day journey, Blyth said, “I think I had the best of it—the people back home were doing all the worrying really, mainly my wife." —SB