20 Groovy Objects From The 1970s That You Totally Forgot
By Jack Ripley | February 5, 2024
Platforms, the Ultimate Party Shoe
The 1970s was a decade defined by a blend of aesthetics, functionality, and fun, reflected in an array of iconic items. From the sleek and stylish pendant lights casting a warm glow over living spaces to the plush comfort of shag carpets underfoot, the era brought forth a unique fusion of design and practicality. Bell bottoms swayed with the rhythm of disco beats, while platform shoes elevated fashion to new heights. Each of these items not only added a touch of style to everyday life but also reflected the era's bold experimentation with self-expression.
Characterized by thick, elevated soles, platform shoes became synonymous with disco glamour and avant-garde style. The towering heels, often decorated with different colors, glitter, and embellishments, added height and drama to outfits, making a bold statement on the dance floor and beyond. Their exaggerated proportions reflected the era's penchant for excess and theatricality, embodying a spirit of rebellion and self-expression. Platform shoes were also called "the party shoe," as many people wore the shoes to attract attention from onlookers.
Platforms also became a symbol of empowerment and liberation for many women, offering a sense of confidence and empowerment as they strutted their stuff in these towering shoes. The platform trend transcended gender boundaries, with men also embracing the bold and flamboyant styles of the era.
A Pliable Superhero: Stretch Armstrong
Stretch Armstrong featured a muscular, superhero-like figure made of a stretchy, gel-filled material that allowed it to be pulled, twisted, and contorted into various shapes and sizes. The toy's pliable and elastic nature made it a hit with kids and encouraged hands-on play and imaginative manipulation. Children delighted in stretching Stretch Armstrong to its limits, marveling at its ability to return to its original form after being stretched and pulled.
Plus, Stretch Armstrong's larger-than-life physique and superhero persona tapped into the cultural fascination with strength, resilience, and heroism prevalent in the 1970s. Its bold design and larger-than-life presence made it a visually striking and attention-grabbing toy that stood out on store shelves and in playrooms. The Stretch Armstrong toy sold for $11.49.
A Strangely Absurd Pet: The Pet Rock
Conceived as a novelty by advertising executive Gary Dahl in 1975, the pet rock quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Essentially a smooth stone nestled in a bed of straw within a ventilated cardboard box, the pet rock captured the essence of the era's irreverent and ironic sense of humor.
In a decade characterized by excess and materialism, the pet rock offered a humorous commentary on the idea of pet ownership and the human desire for companionship. Its lack of functionality and utter absurdity paradoxically made it endearing to many. Moreover, the pet rock phenomenon demonstrated the power of clever marketing and consumer culture. Despite its seemingly mundane nature, millions of pet rocks were sold, becoming a symbol of pop culture kitsch and a testament to the spirit of the 1970s. Pet rocks went for four bucks a pop.
The Beginning of Computer Technology: The Datapoint 2200
The Datapoint 2200 revolutionized the landscape of computing. As one of the earliest microcomputers, the Datapoint 2200 featured a compact footprint and a distinctive, futuristic appearance that reflected a fascination with technology and innovation. The Datapoint 2200 was a groundbreaking device in terms of practicality and functionality. It served as a versatile computing platform, enabling businesses and organizations to perform a wide range of tasks, from data processing and analysis to word processing and communication.
One of the most significant aspects of the Datapoint 2200 was its role in popularizing the concept of the "computer terminal," which allowed users to interact with mainframe computers and access centralized data and resources. This innovation paved the way for the development of modern computing systems and laid the groundwork for the digital revolution that would follow in the decades to come. The Datapoint 2200 remains a landmark achievement in the history of technology, as it would inspire generations of innovators and entrepreneurs.
Luxurious, With a Laid-Back Vibe: The Shag Carpet
One of the most iconic items from this era is the shag carpet. With its deep pile and luxurious texture, the shag carpet epitomized the funky, laid-back vibe of the 1970s. Available in an array of colors, it provided a soft landing for bare feet.
Characterized by long, loose pile fibers, the shag carpet added depth and warmth to interior spaces, transforming floors into cozy havens of comfort and style. What made the shag carpet different was its tactile appeal; the plush fibers invited bare feet to sink into its plush texture. The shag carpet's aesthetic also reflected the era's love for experimentation and self-expression. Shag carpets soon became statement pieces in homes, offices, and even recording studios, adding a touch of retro charm and personality to rooms.
The Signature Look of the 1970s: Bell Bottoms
Bell bottoms epitomized a fashion trend that remains timeless in its appeal. These trousers, characterized by their flared legs that widened from the knees downward, made a bold statement in the era's fashion landscape.
One of the most captivating aspects of bell bottoms was their ability to accentuate movement. The exaggerated flare created a mesmerizing silhouette, swaying gracefully with each step and adding a sense of drama to the wearer's stride. This dynamic quality contributed to the allure and visual impact of bell bottoms, making them a staple in discotheques and on dance floors around the world.
Bell bottoms also represented a cultural shift towards individuality and self-expression. The flamboyant styles of the 1970s encouraged experimentation with color, pattern, and texture, allowing individuals to showcase their personalities through fashion. Bell bottoms, often adorned with showy prints or bold stripes, became a canvas for creative expression, symbolizing the free-spirited and eclectic ethos of the era.
Tupperware and the Mad World of Tupperware Parties
Tupperware's signature pastel colors and sleek, streamlined designs reflected the era's fascination with modernity and convenience. Tupperware revolutionized food storage, offering airtight containers that kept food fresh for longer periods while also providing a nice alternative to traditional storage methods.
One of the most appealing aspects of Tupperware was its versatility. The design allowed for efficient stacking and storage, maximizing space in crowded kitchen cabinets and pantries. The smooth, rounded edges and translucent bodies of Tupperware containers added a touch of elegance to kitchen shelves, while the snug-fitting lids ensured a secure seal, preserving the flavors and textures of homemade meals and snacks.
Tupperware parties also became a social phenomenon during the 1970s, bringing together friends and neighbors to explore the latest innovations in food storage and kitchen organization. These gatherings not only promoted the practical benefits of Tupperware but also celebrated its aesthetic appeal as a symbol of modern homemaking and domesticity.
Finding The Right Vibe Vibe With The Mood Ring
The mood ring was a simple band with a thermochromic stone, and it purportedly changed color in response to the wearer's emotions, reflecting the prevailing mood of the individual. This concept tapped into the era's fascination with mysticism, self-discovery, and personal expression. As the wearer's body temperature fluctuated, the stone transitioned through a spectrum of colors, ranging from cool blues and greens to warm yellows and reds. It wasn't mysticism, but people liked to believe it was. The thermotropic liquid crystals inside simply reflected different wavelengths with changing body temperatures.
Beyond its mystical allure, the mood ring also served as a fashionable accessory, complementing the era's eclectic and bohemian styles. Worn alone or stacked with other jewelry, the mood ring added a playful touch to outfits, making a bold statement about the wearer's personality and outlook on life. The mood ring was invented in the late 1960s but gained popularity in the 1970s.
"Star Wars" Action Figures: Toys From a Galaxy Far, Far Away
The "Star Wars" action figures of the 1970s were based on characters from George Lucas's "Star Wars" movie. The action figures brought the galaxy far, far away into the hands of fans, sparking imaginations and igniting a passion for collecting. "Star Wars," which was made in 1977, was the first film to license toys and make a profit. In fact, the profits from the action figures would allow George Lucas to make two additional "Star Wars" films.
One of the most interesting aspects of "Star Wars" action figures was their attention to detail and craftsmanship. Each figure was meticulously sculpted and painted to resemble its on-screen counterpart, capturing the essence of iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Darth Vader with remarkable accuracy. The company Kenner released over 100 action figures from 1977 to 1985.
The Beginnings of the Video Game Industry: The Atari 2600
The Atari 2600 revolutionized the world of home entertainment. Its simple design embodied the spirit of technological innovation and the burgeoning video game industry of the era. One of the most captivating aspects of the Atari 2600 was its ability to transport players to imaginative worlds through simple yet engaging graphics and gameplay. The console's distinctive wood-grain paneling and black accents added a touch of sophistication to living room setups, making it a coveted centerpiece of entertainment systems across the globe.
Moreover, the Atari 2600 represented more than just a gaming console; it fostered a sense of community and shared experiences among players of all ages. Friends and family would gather around the television screen, controllers in hand, to embark on virtual adventures and compete in friendly competitions. Its cultural impact continues to resonate with gamers and enthusiasts, cementing its status as a timeless classic in the annals of video game history.
Rain Falling on Your Tongue: Pop Rocks
First introduced on the market in 1975, Pop Rocks were tiny, colorful candies that contained pockets of carbon dioxide gas. As a result of the gas, popping them in your mouth resulted in a fizzy sensation as they melted. The experience of consuming Pop Rocks was not only sensory but also visual and auditory, as the candies crackled and popped with each bite, adding an extra layer of excitement to the eating experience.
The original flavors of Pop Rocks were grape, cherry, and orange, and the playful packaging featured bold graphics and fun designs. The candies' small size and portable packaging made them perfect for on-the-go snacking, while their novelty and unique texture made them a hit at parties and gatherings. One kid at the time said, "It feels like rain falling down on my tongue.
Introducing an Earthy, DIY Design: Macramé
In the 1970s, macramé emerged as a distinctive craft that reflected the time's emphasis on handmade and bohemian-inspired décor. Characterized by intricate knotting techniques, macramé transformed humble materials like cotton cord, jute, and yarn into beautiful works of art that decorated homes, gardens, and even clothing. From elaborate wall hangings and plant hangers to handbags and clothing accessories, macramé offered endless possibilities for creative expression. The craft's intricate patterns and textures added depth and interest to interior spaces, infusing them with texture and personality. In the 1970s, macramé was everywhere.
Macramé's earthy and organic aesthetic also resonated with the era's back-to-nature movement, DIYers, and countercultural ethos. Its handmade quality and artisanal charm offered a refreshing alternative to mass-produced goods, celebrating craftsmanship, individuality, and self-expression. Macramé was made just with your hands, and it involved mastering a series of knots. Once you mastered macramé knots, you could then make up your own.
The Tongue-in-Cheek and Humorous Wacky Packs
These collectible trading cards and stickers featured parodies of popular consumer products, with humorous and often irreverent artwork. What made Wacky Packages particularly appealing was their subversive take on everyday items, turning mundane household goods into objects of satire.
Wacky Packages had colorful illustrations, which combined bold graphics with witty wordplay to create attention-grabbing designs. Each card or sticker offered a playful commentary on consumer culture, poking fun at advertising slogans, product packaging, and brand identities in a way that resonated with audiences of all ages. These packages cleverly tapped into the era's irreverent and countercultural spirit, offering a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the excesses and absurdities of modern life. Their offbeat humor and imaginative artwork provided a welcome escape from the monotony of everyday routines, inviting viewers to see the world through a lens of offbeat creativity. Sixteen series were produced between 1973 and 1977.
Comfort and Bohemian: Latch Hook Rugs
Latch hook rugs embodied the era's DIY ethos and bohemian aesthetic. Created by looping short strands of yarn through a grid-like canvas using a latch hook tool, these rugs allowed people to unleash their creativity and express themselves through a variety of colors and patterns. The rhythmic process of looping yarn through the canvas was both meditative and therapeutic, offering a calming escape. The soft, plush texture of the finished rugs added warmth and comfort to interior spaces, transforming bare floors into cozy retreats.
Latch hook rugs provided a canvas for personal expression and artistic exploration as well. Crafters could experiment with different colors, textures, and designs, creating rugs that reflected their style and sensibility. Whether depicting animals, abstract patterns, or nostalgic scenes, latch hook rugs added a touch of personality to 1970s décor.
Fusing Athletic Wear and Fashion With Tube Socks
In the 1970s, tube socks reflected the era's casual and sporty fashion trends. Characterized by their stretchy, cylindrical shape and iconic stripes, the socks became a staple accessory for both athletic activities and everyday wear. Available in a rainbow of colors and patterns, including bold stripes and retro designs, tube socks added a pop of personality to any outfit. Their eye-catching appearance made them a favorite among athletes, dancers, and fashion-forward individuals.
While most tube socks were white with three bands of colors at the top, the designs could differ. Their popularity started as athletic wear, with athletes donning them when roller skating, running, playing basketball, or playing soccer. Tube socks weren't just a fashion trend; they were comfortable, too. They protected feet from blisters and absorbed sweat. The popularity of tube socks faded in the late 1980s.
Disappear Into a Cocoon With Egg Chairs
Designed by Arne Jacobsen for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen in 1958, the chair didn't become popular until the 1970s. However, the egg chair's distinctive shape and futuristic aesthetic made it a hallmark of modern design. The cocoon-like shape, with its rounded curves and enveloping structure, creates a sense of intimacy and comfort for the sitter, while the chair's high back and swiveling base provide a sense of privacy and enclosure, making it an ideal retreat for relaxation and contemplation. Moreover, the egg chair's bold and sculptural design is a striking focal point in any interior space.
Arne Jacobsen originally designed these chairs to be lightweight, allowing people to move them around easily. Available in a variety of colors and upholstered in fabrics like leather or wool, the chair added a touch of glamour to living rooms, lounges, and hotel lobbies.
Compact Sophistication: The Original Sony Walkman
The original Sony Walkman was introduced in 1979 and revolutionized the way people listened to music. It represented a paradigm shift in portable audio technology, offering music lovers the freedom to enjoy their favorite songs on the go. Encased in a sleek and lightweight body, the device featured simple, intuitive controls and a distinctive metallic finish that exuded modernity. Its compact size made it easy to carry in a pocket or bag, while the iconic orange "hotline" button allowed users to momentarily lower the volume and engage in conversations without removing their headphones.
The Walkman was a practical and versatile device. Its cassette tape format allowed users to create custom playlists and mix tapes, providing a personalized listening experience that catered to individual tastes and preferences. The Walkman's long battery life and durable construction made it ideal for outdoor activities, travel, and everyday use, too, earning it a place in the hearts of millions of music enthusiasts around the world.
Rattan Furniture: Furniture for Indoors and Out
Rattan is a type of plant found in Southeast Asia and Africa, and people have used its natural fibers to make furniture for years. Characterized by its natural, woven texture and lightweight yet sturdy construction, rattan furniture brought a touch of organic elegance to interior spaces during the era. The warm tones and intricate weaving patterns of rattan pieces added depth and texture to rooms, creating a sense of coziness and relaxation. Whether in the form of chairs, sofas, tables, or accessories, rattan furniture complemented a variety of interior styles, from bohemian to mid-century modern.
Moreover, rattan furniture was highly practical in the context of 1970s design. Its lightweight nature made it easy to move and rearrange, while its durability ensured longevity and resilience against everyday wear and tear. Rattan's versatility allowed it to transition seamlessly from indoor to outdoor spaces, offering a stylish and comfortable seating option for patio lounging or garden gatherings.
Understated and All-Around Practicality: Corelle Dishes
Made from a unique glass material called Vitrelle, which is three bonded glass layers, Corelle dishes boasted a delicate appearance with remarkable durability, making them a beloved choice for many households. Available in a variety of patterns ranging from classic to contemporary, Corelle dishes had an understated design that added a touch of charm to dining tables. Their lightweight and thin profile made them easy to handle and stack, optimizing storage space in kitchens and cabinets.
Corelle dishes were also highly practical in the context of 1970s living. Their break-resistant construction meant they could withstand the rigors of daily use, from meal preparation to dishwasher cleaning, without losing their luster or integrity. The dishes' thermal-resistant properties also made them suitable for microwave and oven use, offering versatility and convenience for modern lifestyles.
The Minimalist Beauty of Pendant Lights
Although pendant lights date back to ancient Greece, they didn't become popular in the United States until much later. Pendant lights were characterized by their suspended design and focused illumination, adding a touch of elegance and functionality to living spaces during the era. Available in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and materials, pendant lights allowed homeowners to express their personal style and complement various décor themes. Whether adorned with colorful glass shades, sleek metal finishes, or intricate woven patterns, pendant lights served as eye-catching focal points that enhanced the visual appeal of any room.
Pendant lights offered practical benefits as well. Suspended from the ceiling, they provided focused and directed lighting, illuminating specific areas such as kitchen islands, dining tables, or reading nooks. Their adjustable height and directional capabilities allowed users to customize the intensity and spread of light, creating ambiance and functionality tailored to individual needs.