We Didn't Start the Fire - Billy Joel

1949 Harry Truman Inaugurated as U.S. president after being elected in 1948 to his own term
1949 Doris Day Enters the public spotlight with the films My Dream Is Yours and It's a Great Feeling
1949 Red China The Communist Party of China wins the Chinese Civil War, establishing the People's Republic of China.
1949 Johnnie Ray Signs his first recording contract with Okeh Records
1949 South Pacific The prize-winning musical, opens on Broadway on April 7
1949 Walter Winchell A radio and newspaper journalist credited with inventing the gossip column
1949 Joe Dimaggio and the New York Yankees go to the World Series five times in the 1940s, winning four of them
1950 Joe McCarthy the US Senator, gains national attention and begins his anti-communist crusade with his Lincoln Day speech.
1950 Richard Nixon is first elected to the United States Senate
1950 Studebaker a popular car company, begins its financial downfall
1950 Television is becoming widespread throughout Europe and North America
1950 North Korea / South Korea declare war after Northern forces stream south on June 25
1950 Marilyn Monroe soars in popularity with five new movies
1951 Rosenbergs Ethel and Julius, were convicted on March 19 for espionage
1951 H-Bomb Is in the middle of its development as a nuclear weapon
1951 Sugar Ray A champion welterweight boxer
1951 Panmunjom The border village in Korea, is the location of truce talks between the parties of the Korean War
1951 Brando Marlon Brando is nominated for the academy Award for Best Actor for his role in A Streetcar Named Desire
1951 The King and I musical opens on Broadway on March 29
1951 The Catcher In The Rye a controversial novel by J.D. Salinger, is published
1952 Eisenhower Dwight D. Eisenhower is first elected as U.S. president, winning by a landslide margin of 422 to 89 electoral votes
1952 Vaccine Vaccine for polio is privately tested by Jonas Salk
1952 England's Got a New Queen Queen Elizabeth II succeeds to the throne upon the death of her father, George VI, and is crowned the next year
1952 Marciano Rocky Marciano defeats Jersey Joe Walcott, becoming the world Heavywieght champion
1952 Liberace Liberace has a popular 1950s television show for his musical entertainment
1952 Santayana goodbye George Santayana, philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist, dies on September 26
1953 Joseph Stalin leader of the Soviet Union, dies on March 5
1953 Malenkov Malenkov succeeds Stalin for six months, following his death
1953 Nasser Gamal Abdel Nasser acts as the true power behind the new Egyptian nation as Muhammad Naguib's minister of the interior
1953 Prokofiev Sergei Prokofiev the composer, dies on March 5, the same day as Stalin
1953 Rockefeller Winthrop Rockefeller and his wife Barbara are involved in a highly publicized divorce
1953 Campanella Roy Campanella an African-American baseball catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, receives the National League's Most Valuable Player award for the second time
1953 Communist Bloc is a group of communist nations dominated by the Soviet Union at this time
1954 Roy Cohn resigns as Joseph McCarthy's chief counsel and enters private practice with the fall of McCarthy
1954 Juan Perón spends his last full year as President of Argentina before a September 1955 coup
1954 Toscanini Arturo Toscanini is at the height of his fame as a conductor, performing regularly with the NBC Symphony Orchestra on national radio
1954 Dacron is an early artificial fiber made from the same plastic as polyester
1954 Dien Bien Phu Falls A village in North Vietnam falls to Viet Minh forces under Vo Nguyen Giap, leading to the creation of North Vietnam and South Vietnam as separate states
1954 Rock Around the Clock is a hit single released by Bill Haley & His Comets in May, spurring worldwide interest in rock and roll music
1955 Albert Einstein dies on April 18 at the age of 76
1955 James Dean gets nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, and dies in a car accident on September 30 at the age of 24
1955 Brooklyn's got a winning team The Brooklyn Dodgers win the World Series for the only time before their move to Los Angeles
1955 Davy Crockett is a Disney television mini-series about the legendary frontiersman of the same name. The show inspired a short-lived 'coonskin cap' craze
1955 Peter Pan is broadcast on TV live and in color from the 1954 version of the stage musical. Disney released an animated version the previous year
1955 Elvis Presley signs with RCA Records on November 21, beginning his pop career
1955 Disneyland opens on July 17, 1955 as Walt Disney's first theme park
1956 Bardot Brigitte Bardot appears in her first mainstream film And God Created Women and establishes an international reputation as a French 'sex kitten'
1956 Budapest is the capital city of Hungary and site of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution
1956 Alabama is the site of the Montgomery Bus Boycott which ultimately led to the removal of the last race laws in the USA. Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr figure prominently
1956 Khrushchev Nikita Khrushchev makes his famous Secret Speech denouncing Stalin's 'cult of personality' on February 25
1956 Princess Grace Princess Grace Kelly releases her last film, High Society, and marries Prince Rainier III of Monaco
1956 Peyton Place the best-selling novel by Grace Metalious, is published. Though mild compared to today's prime time, it shocked the reserved values of the 1950s
1956 Trouble in the Suez the Suez Crisis boils as Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal on October 29
1957 Little Rock Little Rock, Arkansas is the site of an anti-integration standoff, as Governor Orvil Faubus stops the Little Rock Nine from attending Little Rock Central High School
1957 Pasternak Boris Pasternak, the Russian author, publishes his famous novel Doctor Zhivago
1957 Mickey Mantle is in the middle of his career as a famous New York Yankees outfielder and American League All-Star for the sixth year in a row
1957 Kerouac Jack Kerouac publishes his first novel in seven years, On the Road
1957 Sputnik becomes the first artificial satellite, launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, marking the start of the space race
1957 Chou En-Lai Premier of the People's Republic of China, survives an assassination attempt on the charter airliner Kashmir Princess
1957 Bridge on the River Kwai is released as a film adaption of the 1954 novel and receives seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture
1958 Lebanon is engulfed in a political religious crisis that eventually involves U.S. intervention
1958 Charles De Gaulle is elected first president of the French Fifth Republic following the Algerian Crisis
1958 California baseball begins as the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants move to California and become the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants
1958 Starkweather Homicide Charles Starkweather captures the attention of Americans, in which he kills eleven people between January 25 and 29 before being caught in a massive manhunt in Douglas, Wyoming
1958 Children of Thalidomide Mothers taking the drug Thalidomide had children born with congenital birth defects caused by the sleeping aid and antiemetic, which was also used at times to treat morning sickness
1959 Buddy Holly dies in a plane crash on February 3 with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper, in a day that had a devastating impact on the country and youth culture. Joel prefaces the lyric with a Holly signature vocal hiccup: 'Uh-huh, uh-huh.'
1959 Ben-Hur a film based around the New Testament starring Charlton Heston, wins eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture
1959 Space Monkey Able and Miss Baker return to Earth from space aboard the flight Jupiter AM-18
1959 Mafia are the center of attention for the FBI and public attention builds to this organized crime society with a historically Sicilian-American origin
1959 Hula Hoops reach 100 million in sales as the latest toy fad
1959 Castro Fidel Castro comes to power after a revolution in Cuba and visits the United States later that year on an unofficial twelve-day tour
1959 Edsel is a no-go Production of this car marque ends after only three years due to poor sales
1960 U-2 an American U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union, causing the U-2 Crisis of 1960
1960 Syngman Rhee was rescued by the CIA after being forced to resign as leader of South Korea for allegedly fixing an election and embezzling more than US $20 million
1960 Payola illegal payments for radio broadcasting of songs, was publicized due to Dick Clark's testimony before Congress and Alan Freed's public disgrace
1960 Kennedy John F. Kennedy beats Richard Nixon in the November 8 general election
1960 Chubby Checker popularizes the dance The Twist with his cover of the song of the same name
1960 Psycho an Alfred Hitchcock thriller, based on a pulp novel by Robert Bloch and adapted by Joseph Stefano, which becomes a landmark in graphic violence and cinema sensationalism
1960 Belgians in the Congo The Republic of the Congo (Leopoldville) was declared independent of Belgium on June 30
1961 Hemingway Ernest Hemingway commits suicide on July 2 after a long battle with depression
1961 Eichmann Adolf Eichmann, a 'most wanted' Nazi war criminal, is traced to Argentina and captured by Mossad agents. He is covertly taken to Israel where he is put on trial for crimes against humanity in Germany during World War II, convicted, and hanged.
1961 Stranger in a Strange Land written by Robert A. Heinlein, is a break-through best-seller with themes of sexual freedom and liberation
1961 Dylan Bob Dylan is signed to Columbia Records after a New York Times review by critic Robert Shelton
1961 Berlin is separated into West Berlin and East Berlin, and from the rest of East Germany, when the Berlin Wall is erected on August 13 to prevent citizens escaping to the West.
1961 The Bay of Pigs Invasion fails, an attempt by United States-trained Cuban exiles to invade Cuba and over-throw Fidel Castro
1962 Lawrence of Arabia The academy Award-winning film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence starring Peter O'Toole premieres in America on December 16
1962 British Beatlemania The Beatles, a British rock group, became the world's most famous rock band, with the word 'Beatlemania' adopted by the press for their fans' unprecedented enthusiasm. It also began the British Invasion in the United States
1962 Ole Miss A riot was fought between Southern segregationist civilians and federal and state forces as a result of the forced enrollment of black student James Meredith at the University of Mississippi
1962 John Glenn flew the first American manned orbit mission termed 'Friendship 7' on February 20
1962 Liston beats Patterson Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson fight for the world heavyweight championship on September 25, ending in a first-round knockout. This match marked the first time Patterson had ever been knocked out, and one of only eight losses in his 20-year professional career
1963 Pope Paul Pope Paul VI - Cardinal Giovanni Montini is elected to the papacy and takes the papal name of Paul VI
1963 Malcolm X makes his infamous statement 'The chickens have come home to roost' about the Kennedy assassination, thus causing the nation of Islam to censor him
1963 British politician sex The British Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, has a relationship with a showgirl, and then lies when questioned about it before the House of Commons. When the truth came out, it led to his own resignation and undermined the credibility of the Prime Minister
1963 JFK blown away President John F. Kennedy is assassinated on November 22 while riding in an open convertible through Dallas
1965 Birth control In the early 1960s, oral contraceptives, popularly known as 'the pill', first go on the market and are extremely popular
1965 Ho Chi Minh A Vietnamese communist, who served as President of Vietnam from 1954-1969. March 2 Operation Rolling Thunder begins bombing of the Ho Chi Minh Trail supply line from North Vietnam to the Vietcong rebels in the south. On March 8, the first U.S. combat troops, 3,500 marines, landed in South Vietnam.
1968 Richard Nixon back again Former Vice President Nixon is elected President in 1968
1969 Moonshot Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing, successfully lands on the moon
1969 Woodstock Famous rock and roll festival of 1969 that came to be the epitome of the counterculture movement
1975 Watergate Political scandal that began when the Democratic National Committee's headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. was broken into. After the break-in, word spread that President Nixon (Republican) may have known about the break-in, and tried to cover it up. The scandal resulted in the resignation of President Nixon
1975 Punk Rock The Ramones form, with the Sex Pistols following in 1975, ushering in the punk era.
1977 Begin Menachem Begin becomes Prime Minister of Israel in 1977 and negotiates the Camp David Accords with Egypt's president in 1978
1976 Reagan Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States in 1980, but he first attempted to run for the position in 1976
1977 Palestine a United Nations resolution that calls for an independent Palestinian state and to end the Israeli occupation
1976 Terror on the airlines Numerous aircraft hijackings take place, specifically, the Palestinian hijack of Air France Flight 139 and the subsequent Operation Entebbe in Uganda
1979 Ayatollah's in Iran During the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the West-backed and secular Shah is overthrown as the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini gains power after years in exile and forces Islamic law
1979 Russians in Afghanistan Following their move into Afghanistan, Soviet forces fight a ten-year war, from 1979 to 1989
1983 Wheel of Fortune A hit television game show which has been TV's highest-rated syndicated program since 1983
1983 Sally Ride In 1983 she becomes the first American woman in space. Ride's quip from space 'Better than an E-ticket', harkens back to the opening of Disneyland mentioned earlier, with the E-ticket purchase needed for the best rides
1983 Heavy metal, suicide Ozzy Osbourne and the bands Judas Priest and Metallica were brought to court by parents who accused the musicians of hiding subliminal pro-suicide messages in their music
1983 Foreign debts Persistent U.S. trade and budget deficits
1983 Homeless Vets Veterans of the Vietnam War, including many disabled ex-military, are reported to be left homeless and impoverished
1983 AIDS A collection of symptoms and infections in humans resulting from specific damage to the immune system caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It is first detected and recognized in the 1980s, and was on its way to becoming a pandemic
1983 Crack Crack Cocaine use surged in the mid-to-late 1980s
1984 Bernie Goetz On December 22, Goetz shot four young men who he said were threatening him on a New York City subway. Goetz was charged with attempted murder but was acquitted of the charges, though convicted of carrying an unlicensed gun
1988 Hypodermics on the shore Medical waste was found washed up on beaches in New Jersey after being illegally dumped at sea. Before this event, waste dumped in the oceans was an 'out of sight, out of mind' affair. This has been cited as one of the crucial turning points in popular opinion on environmentalism
1989 China's Under Martial Law On May 20, China declares martial law, resulting in the use of military forces against protesting students to end the Tiananmen Square protests
1989 Rock-and-Roll Cola Wars Soft drink giants Coke and Pepsi each run marketing campaigns using rock & roll and popular music stars to reach the teenage and young adult demographic