The Year 1969, in 5 Facts

  • Nixon’s televised speech
Nixon’s televised speech
Credit: Bettmann via Getty Images

Back in 1969, the global population was a comfortable 3.6 billion — a long way from today’s 8.1 billion. In the United States, 202 million people (versus some 341 million today) were going about their business. Glue sticks had just been invented and Nutter Butter was first put on sale. “Michael” and “Lisa” were the most popular baby names, the movie Oliver! won Best Picture at the 41st Academy Awards, and the New York Mets provided one of baseball’s greatest upsets when they won the World Series four games to one against the Baltimore Orioles. 

That all sounds reasonably relaxing, but don’t let 1969 fool you — it was a transformative and tumultuous year in America. These five facts offer a snapshot of the final 12 months of the decade, from music to politics to a trip to the moon (but, alas, no aliens). 

Some 650 Million People Watched the Moon Landing

Credit: Bettmann via Getty Images

In July 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins traveled to space on the first crewed mission to land on the moon. Back on Earth, meanwhile, an estimated 650 million people worldwide — about a fifth of the global population — were glued to their television sets to watch events unfold. The moon landing itself was broadcast live to the world on July 21 as the images were beamed back to Earth. Engineers at three tracking stations — one in the U.S. and two in Australia — busily converted the raw feed into a format compatible with terrestrial broadcasts, providing arguably the most historic TV broadcast in history. 

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