American History Timeline - 1957-2009

Your first pocket knife, your first bicycle, your first car, your first cell phone, your first laptop, all these are badges of gaining control over your world. Of being able to live life better because you have a better took and the skill to use it, that is something that is deeply appealing to the American psyche.

James Meigs, Editor, 'Popular Mechanics'

1957 The Russians put the first satellite, Sputnik 1, into space. Cold War paranoia pushes the Americans to place a man on the moon first. 185 million Americans will watch the 1969 Apollo Moon Landings live on TV.

1960 Computers with the power of a modern PC only used to be the size of a bus and require the same amount of power as a small town. Now, computers achieve unthinkable calculations, and corporations use them to replace thousands of clerical workers.

1965 Mechanical cotton pickers now harvest 81% of Mississippi Delta cotton. With no work in the country, 80% of blacks now live in cities and 50% of the black people live in the North. Concentrated together, the Civil Rights movement rapidly achieves de-segregation.

1969 The communication revolution begins. Four computers start talking to each other down a telephone line. The first email had been sent

1971 Federal funding for weapons testing, amongst other things, in the South and South West closes the gap between North and South economically and now the has made the area rich. This 'Sun Belt' now gives birth to 'Silicon Valley'. Referring to the silicon in semiconductors used in computers, this San Francisco valley is at the centre of the coming electronics revolution.

1974 President Nixon is implicated in Watergate. The resignation of the president will be watched live by 85% of American households.

1975 Despite a $80 billion defence budget and cutting edge technology, the US army fails as a foreign invader and the Third World people of Vietnam defeat the world's superpower. It has been the first televised war.

1976 From a garage in Northern California, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozznia create Apple computers.

1980 The power of Apple 2 has more computing power than was used in the entire Apollo moon landing programme

1986 The crew of the Challenger space shuttle die 73 seconds after take-off. But the space shuttle programme has brought countless benefits such as water purification, airplane landing equipment, cordless power tools and even ski wear. The space shuttle's primary function is to launch communications satellites to feed the ever growing appetite for TV, GPS and mobile phones.

1989 More Americans have credit cards than vote in elections. In this decade, 100,000 Americans become millionaires every year. The number of shopping malls surpasses that of the number of high schools.

1990 There are over 67million PCs. That year Microsoft's sales alone top 1 billion dollars.

2005 Internet access is now in 200 million homes.

2009 Goods sold online exceed 5 billion dollars

Did you know?

It's an urban myth that the Americans wasted millions developing a pen that would work in space when the Russians simply opted for using a pencil. The myth came about because normal ink pens don't work in zero gravity, a 'Space Pen' was invented, and the Russians did use pencils. However, despite its popular name, the 'Space Pen' wasn't invented for the Apollo programme. And the Russians stopped using pencils as soon as they could. The reason being that if the tip of a pencil broke off, it could float around and damage or clog up sensitive instrumentation., 400,000 Americans worked directly on Apollo 11 mission. The original rocket weighed 3000 tonnes and was 60 ft taller than the Statue of Liberty.