Fabric foundations 1970s

Head full of air

In 1971, Walter W. Bird, president, Birdair Structures Inc., claimed he was helping to build “a new and better America.” An aeronautical engineer, Bird was one of the first to organize the research, design and manufacture of air structures in the United States. Futuristic and dome-shaped, air-supported structures were dynamic with free-flowing lines and open spaces. 

While Bird eventually shifted his focus away from air-supported domes and onto more permanent membrane structures, Birdair continued to build air-supported stadiums throughout the 1970s and 80s. Founded in 1956, the company has completed more than 1,200 installations, utilizing more than 30 million square feet of architectural fabric membrane. 


Electronics companies like Sharp and Canon begin selling portable hand-held calculators between $300–$400.

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When construction is completed on the Sears Tower, now known as the Willis Tower, it becomes the largest building in the U.S. Located in Chicago, the 39-year old building is still the third tallest in the world.

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Bill Gates and his childhood friend, Paul Allen, found Microsoft with the vision of bringing a computer to every home in America. In 1980, they develop MS-DOS, a new kind of operating system, for use in IBM computers. 

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The first Star Wars movie, created by George Lucas, is released by Fox on May 25. It was the most successful film in history, earning more than $260 million dollars. It remains the second-highest grossing film of all time. 

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-Jessica Bies