Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
The Boomer Century: 1946-2046
Boomer Timeline
1940s
1945

Soldiers come home after WWII to make babies at the rate of one every eight seconds over the next two decades.

1946

Dr. Benjamin Spock’s “Baby and Child Care” published. Parents get the okay to become emotionally involved with their children.

1947

Jackie Robinson joins the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaks the color barrier in major league baseball.

1948

The “Kinsey Report” on sexual behavior in the human male is published.


1950s

Disc jockey Alan Freed coins the term “rock ‘n’ roll.”

1952
Swanson TV dinners

“Bandstand” begins its long run on TV, showcasing popular music, dance, fashion and hairstyles.

 

Swanson introduces TV dinners. Look Ma, no dishes.

1954

Supreme Court deems racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education.

1955

Elvis Presley ushers in a new age of rock ‘n’ roll with “That’s All Right.”

 

Rosa Parks arrested after she refuses to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. A citywide bus boycott follows.

1957

Soviets launch Sputnik. Space race begins as the Cold War heats up.

1958
WHAM-O frisbee

WHAM-O introduces the first Frisbee.


1960s
1960

Kennedy defeats Nixon to become president.

 

U-2 spy plane shot down by Soviet Union, U.S. pilot Gary Powers captured.

 

Birth control pill approved for sale by the FDA.

1962

Cuban Missile Crisis - President Kennedy decides not to attack Soviet missiles in Cuba, avoids nuclear war.

1963

Martin Luther King Jr. delivers “I Have A Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

 

JFK assassinated in Dallas.

1964

The Beatles arrive in the U.S., appear on the Ed Sullivan Show.

1968

North Vietnam launches the Tet offensive.

 

Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated.

 

Robert Kennedy assassinated.

1969
First step on the moon

Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon.

 

Woodstock festival held on a dairy farm in upstate New York.


1970s
1970

Four students killed at Kent State by National Guardsmen during a protest against the Vietnam War.

1972

Break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters leads to Nixon’s resignation two years later.

1973

Roe v. Wade gives women the right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.

1974

Facing impeachment, Nixon resigns and is later pardoned by President Ford.

1975

U.S. evacuates from Vietnam. South Vietnamese government surrenders.

1977

“Star Wars” opens. Legions of faithful Jedis follow.


1980s
1980

John Lennon shot and killed in New York.

 

IBM PC introduced, business boots up.

 

Pac-Man introduced, takes arcade games to a new level.

1981

The CDC publishes report on AIDS epidemic.

1983

Chrysler minivan introduced. Soccer moms abandon station wagons.

 

Newsweek declares 1983 “the year of the yuppie.”

1985

Bob Geldof spearheads Live Aid concerts, raising over $100 million to fight famine in Africa.

1986

The space shuttle Challenger explodes after liftoff.

1989
The Berlin wall

Berlin Wall falls, leading to the reunification of East and West Germany.


1990s
1991
Persian Gulf War Battleship

Persian Gulf War liberates Kuwait.

1992

Riots erupt in Los Angeles after jury acquits four policemen of beating Rodney King.

1993

Branch Davidian compound burned down near Waco, Texas.

1995

Truck bomb explodes outside federal office building in Oklahoma City.

 

 

O. J. Simpson trial captivates a nation.

1998

Viagra hits the shelves. Blue jokes commence.

1999

Shootings at Columbine High School.

 

Clinton’s impeachment trial ends without a conviction.


2000s
2000

Bush wins election after Florida vote recount.

2001

Attack on World Trade Center September 11.

2006

First boomers turn 60.

Buy the Book

“The Boomer Century:
1946-2046” by Richard Croker is available wherever books are sold.

Boomer Timeline

View the events that helped define a generation.

Who's Who

See photos and bios of the contributors to the program.

Ten Things

Things you may not know about boomers today.

Resources
Feedback
Credits

Check your local listings The Boomer Century: 1946-2046