As the year began, full diplomatic relations with the People's Republic Of China were enacted.
Thousands were evacuated when a cooling system failed at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The General Accounting Office admitted that thousands of U.S. troops had been sprayed with Agent Orange during the Viet Nam war. The toxic herbicide was known to cause mild to severe neurological problems.
121 people died in a blizzard that blanketed most of the midwest with snow and ice.
60 died and over 820 were injured when tornadoes ripped across the Texas-Oklahoma border.
Hurricane Frederic caused $1,500,000,000 damage along the Gulf Coast of Texas, Louisiana and Florida. 8 people were killed.
275 persons died when a DC-10 crashed shortly after taking off from O'Hare Airport in Chicago.
The Sioux Nation was compensated for its land under terms of an 1877 treaty. Adjusted for inflation, the tribe was awarded $17,497,500.
The Skylab III broke up upon crashing to Earth. Fragments were recovered in New Zealand and Australia.
Andrew Young resigned as U.N. ambassador after admitting he had conducted unsanctioned meetings with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Puerto Rican nationalists killed two American sailors after ambushing a U.S. military bus near San Juan.
Iranian revolutionaries seized the U.S. Embassy in Teheran and took 65 Americans hostage. 15 were let go. The militants demanded that he U.S. turn over the deposed Shah of Iran, who was in the U.S. for cancer treatments.
At the urging of President Carter, Congress voted to guarantee the financially-troubled Chrysler Corporation a loan credit of $1,500,000,000.
Ronald Reagan announced he would run for president in the 1980 primaries.
John F. Kennedy, Jr. dedicated the library bearing his father's name in Boston.
Hit movies included Superman — The Movie, Kramer Vs. Kramer, The China Syndrome, Norma Rae and Being There. During the Hollywood premiere of Being There, the movie was stopped as the theater manager announced that its star, Peter Sellers, had died of a heart attack.
Disco & rock continued to duke it out on the music charts, with hits including My Sharona by the Knack, Pop Muzik by M, Do You Think I'm Sexy? by Rod Stewart, Tragedy by the Bee Gees and Ring My Bell by Anita Ward. The Grammy for Album Of The Year was awarded to Billy Joel's 52nd Street.