Any moment now, the news cycle and national conversation will shift from political scandals and celebrity deaths to hippie hype: Aug. 14 is the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, the epic four-day rock festival that drew more than 30 bands and more than 300,000 fans to a farmer's field in Bethel, N.Y.
But why should Woodstock get all the attention? There were plenty of other significant '69 happenings that are worthy of recognition, if not a full-on street party:
The invention of the ATM. The first automated-teller machine was installed at a branch of Chemical Bank on Long Island in New York.
Man walks on the moon. Neil Armstrong, 39, invented the moonwalk when he stepped down from the Apollo 11 lunar module, saying, "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind."
The Gap opens its first store. Taking its name from the newly discovered "generation gap," the San Francisco-based shop sold record albums and blue jeans, eventually sprouting all over the country and making denim the defining uniform of generations of Americans.
The gay-rights movement is born. Homosexuals and drag queens fought back, after police raided New York's Stonewall Inn. Gay people worldwide suddenly discovered they were a community, one that from then on would forcibly resist discrimination.
David Reuben publishes "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)." The psychiatrist's plainspoken Q&A-style explanation of human sexuality became one of the decade's most popular books and essential covert bathroom reading for millions of teenagers, who later learned they had been more than a little misinformed.
"The Brady Bunch" debuts on ABC. America's favorite family moved into our living rooms on Sept. 26 and refused to leave; four decades later, Brady children still pop up, only now they're on reality shows.
Other zeitgeist-changing 1969 debuts include "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and, perhaps most revolutionary, "Sesame Street," which used TV techniques to actually teach, rather than merely distract, U.S. children.
Pringles change the shape of munchies. Procter & Gamble introduced the cloned, uniform-sized chips, made from cooked, mashed, dehydrated, reconstituted potatoes, packaged in soon-to-be iconic, oxygen-free cylinders. "The munchies" were discovered sometime around 1969, and from then on, junk food would never look the same.
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.