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8 facts about the year 1971

Sitcom actors smile on front porch set
Television viewers met the Bunkers of “All in the Family” in 1971. Image: Columbia Pictures Television

Fifty years ago, the Postal Service was born. Here are eight other notable highlights from 1971:

1. We woke up and smelled the coffee. Starbucks opened its first shop, in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. The three founding friends chose a character from the novel “Moby Dick” for the store’s name. (It was almost “Pequod.”) At first, no joe was sold — only bulk coffee beans and tea and their accoutrements.

2. A small but mighty revolution began. Intel developed the first microprocessor, the Intel 4004. At the time it was a side project; the company’s focus was memory chips. Some consider this development the beginning of the digital age.

3. The first email was sent. Computer programmer Ray Tomlinson sent himself the first email via ARPANET, a predecessor of the internet. He also came up with the @ sign for email addresses.

4. A new stock exchange debuted. The year that brought the first microprocessor and email also brought the first electronic stock exchange. Nasdaq had no physical trading floor and handled all functions electronically, a way of doing business that appealed to many technology companies.

5. “Meathead” entered the lexicon. “All in the Family” first aired on CBS. It was one of the first TV shows to feature an antihero — and a bigoted one at that — in Archie Bunker, and it addressed timely issues such as the Vietnam War, abortion, gay rights and much, much more.

6. The ex-Beatles blossomed. All former Beatles were thriving musically a year post-breakup. In fact, during the week of April 11-17, each had a solo hit in the United Kingdom: Paul McCartney with “Another Day,” George Harrison with “My Sweet Lord,” Ringo Starr with “It Don’t Come Easy” and John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band with “Power to the People.”

7. Marvin Gaye released a masterpiece. In “What’s Going On” Gaye took a bold turn from pop ballads to address police brutality, environmental degradation and more. The album was a critical and commercial success; in 2020, it ranked No. 1 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”

8. Disney World opened its doors. The Magic Kingdom’s first guest was escorted into the park by none other than Mickey Mouse.

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