Useful Notes / The '60s

Some possibly useful notes on The '60s, for those who remember them and others who don't.

Daily Life:


  • Due to the American Supreme Court case Engel v. Vitale, it becomes unconstitutional for States to compose and encourage official school prayers. Another supreme court case, Abington School District v. Schempp, makes it unconstitutional for public schools to sponsor bible reading.


  • Anime was introduced to Americans during this decade and it created its niche as Cult Classics in American entertainment as shows like Astro Boy, 8th Man, Kimba the White Lion, Gigantor and Speed Racer paved the way for more sophisticated shows.
  • The Dark Age of Animation was in full swing. Not everything was terrible, but cartoons were generally cheaply produced, and became more sitcom-like. The Animation Age Ghetto started due to cartoons being marketed exclusively toward children.
  • The James Bond film series debuted in this decade with Dr. No in 1962 and would release 5 more official films before it was over (along with the “spoof” film Casino Royale (1967) though it isn’t consisted part of the main series). The series was so successful that it has continuously released films to this day. The initial success of the series also saw many other spy films and television programs being produced throughout the 60s.
  • Prior to the 60s, people were not expected to arrive before a film start and instead go in whenever they wanted. This changed after the release of Film/Psycho in 1960. Alfred Hitchcock insisted that only people who arrived before the film began could be allowed in the theater as a measure to prevent spoilers. While theater owners were at first skeptical of the idea for fear it would cost them business, the practice gradually became more common.
  • In 1967, The Hays Code was officially abolished after years of being challenged and already having to make compromises with studios. The MPPA replaced it with a rating system in 1968 which allowed some films with questionable content could still easily get into theaters. The ratings at the time were:
    • G (general audiences or suitable for all ages)
    • M (suggested for mature audiences)
    • R (restricted audiences – no one under 16 admitted without an adult)
    • X (16 or over only)

  • Most fads that you imagine about the Swinging Sixties, like the miniskirt, tie-dyed shirts, long and bouffant hairdos, mod suits, and bell bottom pants, did not emerge until the middle of the decade. Much of the fashion of the late 1950s was still in style back in the early 1960s (at least before 1963). Only after Kennedy died, that a new, more liberal silhouette that reminisced The Roaring '20s, stepped into the catwalk.


  • The harm smoking does to one's health was finally officially proved once and for all on January 11, 1964 with the release of Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States. Although the tobacco companies tried to cloud the issue for decades since with increasingly desperate PR, the shift toward the North American population turning against smoking began.

Food and Drink:

  • The lemon and lime soft drink Sprite made its american debut in 1961 by the Coca Cola Company. The beverage was initially created in West Germany in 1959 as Fanta Klare Zitrone (“Clear Lemon Fanta”).
  • The Taco Bell chain opened its first location in 1962. By 1967, 100 Taco Bells were operating in the United States and it continued to grow so that there were 325 locations by 1970.
  • The Easy-Bake Oven was first introduced in 1963. It has since gone through a number of design changes, making the original ovens a bit different from more modern ones (the original resembled a conventional oven while more modern styles resemble a microwave oven).
  • Kellogg's introduced Pop-Tarts in 1964 in response to their competitor, Post, mentioned that they were developing Toaster pastries long before the product made it to market. It was an instant hit with there being much more demand than what Kellogg's could manufacture. The original flavors were strawberry, blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and apple currant. The original poptarts were not frosted. Those were introduced in 1967.
  • Diet Pepsi launched in 1964 and became the first diet cola to be distributed on a national scale within the United States.


  • In the very early part of the 1960s, rock music was in a lackluster state with many of the popular rock musicians either lost popularity or , for individual reasons, became inactive. That is, until North America was introduced to British band The Beatles in the year 1964 — the band that revolutionized rock music.
    • They were formed in Liverpool, England in 1960, and went on to transform not only rock, but popular music as well. They were a creative, highly commercial art form over the next decade, disbanding in 1970 while releasing many beloved and acclaimed albums along the way, constantly reinventing themselves while selling an assload of records.
  • Then there was also The Rolling Stones, who came to represent the grittier side of sixties rock.
  • Along with The Beach Boys, who preformed surf rock.
  • Of course, there was Elvis Presley, an American rock musician and actor that started out in the 50's and ended his career with his demise in August 1977. An icon of music, he is commonly referred to as "The King" and he became one of the most successful and influential musicians in the 20th century.
  • Bob Dylan, a young man who came from Minnesota, arrived to New York and manage to turn both the worlds of Folk music and Rock music upside down, arguably paving the way to its fusion, Folk-Rock. Expect "Like a Rolling Stone" or, more famously, "Blowin' In The Wind" to appear in documentaries about 60's culture. He was also pals with the Beatles at one point.
  • "Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen also came out in the year 1963, and started the genre of Garage Rock. That song was suspected of having dirty lyrics, when there were none intentionally note  spoken.
  • Motown and it's affiliated record labels, founded by Berry Gordy in 1959, introduced soul music to a mainstream audience. Many black artists often had difficulty reaching success with white audiences (many of big hits being covered by white musicians whose versions tended to chart higher). Motown, through its factory like process that aimed at producing songs with crossover appeal, was successful in making several black artists into stars which in this decade included The Supremes, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. Between 1961 to 1971, the label released 110 top-10 charting records.
  • Garage Rock led to the creation of Psychedelic Rock, which is often associated with the hippie counter-cultural movement.
  • "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf was probably about the first Hard Rock song to be a hit.
  • In the late 1960s, out of the ashes of The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin would be formed. The band's first North American hit, "Whole Lotta Love", would become a hit in late 1969.
  • While never selling a lot of records, Velvet Underground was one of the most influential rock bands of all time and a major influence on Punk Rock and Alternative Rock in the coming decades.
  • Although Pink Floyd would only become really popular in the next decade, they were an integral part of the psychedelic scene in London.
  • In Latin music, the beginning of the decade was dominated by Bolero (a kind of ballad style born in Cuba and refined in Mexico and the Caribbean) and the Tropical Orchestra (think Big Band, only with less jazz and more latin sounding rhythms like calypso and mambo thrown to the repertory), which had been strong in the former decade. Many of those orchestras and their singers' musical style slowly evolved into what would eventually be baptized as Salsa near the end of the decade.
    • There were some pioneers who tried to adapt rock music into Spanish, after having being introduced to it via foreign movies. At the beginning all those bands did were covers of the original anglo records, but eventually some artists began to do original songs, and eventually new genres (like the Nueva Ola from Spain, a predecessor of the pop-rock on furter years). The rock scene will remain pretty regional for the next two decades.
    • For a while, Andean note  music was really popular in South America. Panflute-based instrumentals were very liked. Many of these artist paved the way into several folk and folk-fusion genres, specially in Chile and Argentina.

Social Concerns:
  • The political climate of the era was very confusing, to say the least. A lot of the same people who opposed Barry Goldwater (a Republican) in 1964 for his backwards racial policies latter on supported Richard Nixon (also a Republican) in 1968 for his promises to end the increasingly unpopular The Vietnam War. Of course, people back then had no idea that Nixon would later on turn out to be the infamous crook whose reputation continues to plague him to this day.

  • Spacewar, one of the first modern video games, was invented at MIT in 1961.
  • The UNIX operating system was created at Bell Labs in 1969, though its impact on The Internet would only be felt in later decades.
  • The Arpanet, the precusor to what became the Internet, started operation in 1969.