The 1970s Business and the Economy: Headline Makers
The 1970s Business and the Economy: Headline MakersPhilip Knight
Philip Knight (1938–) In 1972, Philip Knight and his former track coach from the University of Oregon, Bill Bowerman, founded the athletic footwear company Nike, named after the Greek goddess of victory. With Nike, the pair began to manufacture and market their own line of imaginatively designed athletic shoes with the distinctive "swoosh" logo. By the end of the decade, with sales nearing $100 million, Nike manufactured nearly half the athletic shoes sold in the country.
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Freddie Laker (1922–) English entrepreneur Freddie Laker fought a six-year battle to offer cheap fares on long-distance airline routes. Finally, on September 26, 1977, Laker launched his no-frills, low-cost airline service, called Skytrain, across the North Atlantic. For $102 for a one-way ticket, or $236 for round-trip, passengers could fly between London and New York. Laker's airline offered no advanced booking, limited baggage service, and no free beverage or food service. Despite this, passengers filled his flights, forcing major airlines to offer similar fares.
Ralph Nader (1934–) Consumer advocate Ralph Nader had been a tireless champion for consumer rights and protections since the 1960s. In 1971, he founded Public Citizen, a national nonprofit public interest organization. Nader and followers of his consumer-rights crusade investigated and attacked corporations they believed manufactured unsafe products. Nader also helped to create the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and to draft the Freedom of Information Act in 1974. Early in the decade, he was one of the most prominent and popular figures in the public eye. Despite criticism, Nader continued his watchdog efforts on behalf of the American consumer throughout the following decades.
William Simon (1927–) William Simon was appointed administrator of the new Federal Energy Office (present-day Department of Energy) in December 1973. Relatively unknown, Simon quickly became a household name for the effective way he handled the country's energy resources during the OPEC oil embargo and resulting energy crisis. He urged Americans to conserve energy and sought to wean the United States from its dependence on foreign oil by developing new sources of energy. Programs he developed would prove important in the coming decade. In April 1974, Simon was appointed Secretary of the Treasury, a position he held until 1976.