A Year In History: 1979

Form will auto submit and a new page will load when this value changes.

This Year in History:


Discover what happened in this year with HISTORY’s summaries of major events, anniversaries, famous births and notable deaths.

January 7

Pol Pot overthrown

On January 7, 1979, Vietnamese troops seize the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, toppling the brutal regime of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge, organized by Pol Pot in the Cambodian jungle in the 1960s, advocated a radical Communist revolution that would wipe out Western influences in Cambodia and set up a […]

January 9

Pop luminaries gather at the U.N. for the Music for UNICEF concert

On January 9, 1979, the United Nation’s Children’s Fund, a.k.a. UNICEF, stages a concert fundraiser featuring dozens of leading lights of late-’70s pop music. Designed to publicize the organization’s proclamation of 1979 as the “International Year of the Child” the event called attention to the poverty, malnutrition and lack of access to quality education affecting […]

February 2

Sid Vicious dies of a drug overdose in New York City

On February 2, 1979, Sid Vicious, former bassist for the notorious Sex Pistols—and the living embodiment of everything punk rock stood for and against—dies of a heroin overdose in a Greenwich Village apartment. His death likely came as a surprise to very few. To the New York City Police Department and Medical Examiner’s Office, he […]

February 17

China invades Vietnam

In response to the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, China launches an invasion of Vietnam. Tensions between Vietnam and China increased dramatically after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Attempting to expand its influence, Vietnam established a military presence in Laos; strengthened its ties with China’s rival, the Soviet Union; and toppled the Cambodian […]

March 9

Lawsuit prompts MLB to allow locker room access to female reporters

On March 9, 1979, the 26 Major League Baseball teams are ordered by MLB commissioner Bowie Kuhn to allow equal access to all reporters, regardless of sex. The commissioner’s order comes after Sports Illustrated reporter Melissa Ludtke’s successful lawsuit against MLB for refusing her access to clubhouses at Yankee Stadium during the 1977 World Series between the […]

March 14

Judy Chicago unveils controversial feminist art installation “The Dinner Party”

On March 14, 1979, Judy Chicago’s art installation “The Dinner Party” opens at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The piece remains one of the most famous—and controversial—works of feminist art. “The Dinner Party” consists of ceremonial place settings for 39 real and mythical women from history. These place settings sit atop a massive […]

April 2

Deadly anthrax poison released from Soviet bio-weapons plant

The world’s first anthrax outbreak begins in Sverdlovsk, Russia (now Ekaterinburg), on April 2, 1979. By the time it ends six weeks later, according to official records, 66 people had died and some 30 more had survived serious illness. Ekaterinburg, as the town was known in Soviet times, also suffered livestock losses from the epidemic. […]

April 7

Astros’ Ken Forsch pitches no-hitter, matching feat by his brother

On April 7, 1979, nearly a year after his brother Bob pitched a no-hitter, Houston Astros pitcher Ken Forsch tosses his first career no-hitter. Ken and Bob become the first—and only—brothers to pitch official no-hitters in Major League Baseball history. On April 16, 1978, Bob Forsch pitched a no-hitter for the St. Louis Cardinals against […]

May 4

Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain’s first female prime minister

Margaret Thatcher, leader of the Conservative Party, becomes Britain’s first female prime minister on May 4, 1979. The Oxford-educated chemist and lawyer took office the day after the Conservatives won a 44-seat majority in general parliamentary elections. Margaret Hilda Roberts was born in Grantham, England, in 1925. She was the first woman president of the […]