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21 Ways The US Was Totally Different The Last Time It Saw A Total Solar Eclipse

It's been 38 years since a total solar eclipse has hit the mainland US.

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In case you haven't been paying attention, a total solar eclipse is going to sweep across a large portion of the continental United States on Aug. 21, and if it seems like people are making a big deal about it, it's because it's a really big deal!

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Total solar eclipses — where the moon completely blocks the sun — are relatively frequent, and occur approximately once every 18 months.

It's a lot more rare, though, for one to be seen from the US. In fact, the last one that Americans got to enjoy from the mainland was 38 years ago, on Feb. 26, 1979.

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Needless to say, a lot's changed in the meantime. Here are some of the biggest differences between now and then:

1. In February 1979, the No. 1 song in the country was Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

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What a time to be alive.

2. Everyone was rushing out to theaters to see The Deer Hunter, the No. 1 movie at the box office.

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Why yes, that is a young Christopher Walken in the anti-war movie that was a smash hit!


4. Jimmy Carter was the president.

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And 1979 was a rough time for the US — the Iran hostage crisis happened that year, as did the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, among other trying events. Carter would deliver his infamous "malaise" speech that July.


10. And they would've paid 74.5 cents a gallon for unleaded regular gas — which was high for the time.

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That year, the US experienced a major energy crisis, nationwide gas shortages, and long lines at gas stations as a result of the Iranian Revolution.


15. Birth control pill usage was about to plummet, and diaphragm sales were about to go way up.

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In 1979, sales of the pill dropped by 24% in four years. Women reportedly became anxious about the health risks of ingesting a daily pill, and began seeking out more "mechanical means," like diaphragms.

16. People were living in a pre–Michael Jackson's "Rock With You" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" world.


His record-breaking album Off the Wall, which featured those two hits and more, came out that August. He hadn't even won a Grammy yet!

17. And they had no idea they'd be listening to those songs on a fancy new invention called the Walkman, which Sony would introduce that July.

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The first ones cost $150.


Aspiring Elaine Benes.

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