Explore Melbourne Polytechnic

During this Decade – 1950s


It was a time of the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union; decolonisation and regional conflicts in places as far apart as Vietnam and Algeria; when break-through technology and mass marketing came together and the ‘hidden persuaders’, the advertisers, began to reach out to consumers using the latest media.

Hi Fidelity Stereo (Hi-Fi) and lasers were invented; early computers were mass produced; colour TV started in the USA; NASA was founded and in Australia the rotary Hills-hoist for drying clothes came on the market. The world population hit 3 billion.

1950: the Flying Doctor Service’s radio facilities were used to operate the ‘school of the air’ for outback Australia.

1952: the Victa rotary lawnmower was invented by Mervyn Victor Richardson and the first polio vaccine is tested by Jonas Salk.

1953: Edmund Hillary and Tenzing’s Norgay become the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest; Queen Elizabeth II is crowned.

1954: Elvis Presley begins his recording career; Roger Bannister breaks the 4-minute mile and the USA tests the first Hydrogen Bomb at Bikini Atoll.

1956: Rosa Parks takes a seat in the ‘Whites Only’ section of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, beginning the ‘We ain’t gonna ride in the back no more’ desegregation campaigns in the USA. Melbourne hosts the Olympic Games (the first games ever in the southern hemisphere).

1957: the space race begins with the launch of the Satellite ‘Sputnik’ by the Soviet Union.

1959: the Barbie Doll was invented.

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Last Modified: 21st March 2019

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