On January 1, 1977, Annie Hall was in theaters across America; everyone was listening to Debby Boone (who?); and guys looked unironically like Ron Jeremy–all of which apparently, um, inspired my young parents. Nine months later, my older sister Elizabeth materialized (“a pleasant surprise,” to quote my mother’s favored euphemism).
Gross! But also . . . fascinating! Which is 99% of the fun of this clever interactive chart at GE.com. Designed by The Barbarian Group, it puts a very intimate spin on a typically dry data set: historical birth rates in the United States. You plug in the date you were born, then it rewinds 40 weeks to throw some mood lighting on the cultural moment, from the politics to the media events to the Marvin Gaye, that got your parents knocking boots.
You can also zoom out to look at birth trends in each state over time and how they compare with things like ambient temperature and average income (see above). But our guess is that you’re much more interested in your own story. That’s the genius of the infographic: It makes stale, sprawling data accessible–personal. Okay, maybe a little too personal.
A word of caution: The calculations aren’t terribly accurate. First of all, few people are born precisely 40 weeks after they’re conceived. Secondly, when I plugged in my own birth date, it told me I was conceived Oct. 3, 1980, the day John Lennon was shot and killed. As any Beatles fan will tell you, Lennon was shot December 8. That’s a relief. There are some things you’d rather not have associated with your conception. (See also: Kenny Rogers.)