- Jan 22 Battle of Rorke's Drift: British garrison of 150 holds off 3,000-4,000 Zulu warriors. Eleven Victoria Crosses and a number of other decorations were awarded to the defenders.
- Feb 10 Henry Morton Stanley departs for the Congo
- Apr 5 Chile declares war on Bolivia and Peru, starting the War of the Pacific.
- Oct 22 Thomas Edison perfects carbonized cotton filament light bulb
- Nov 4 African American inventor Thomas Elkins patents refrigerating apparatus
- Dec 31 Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera "Pirates of Penzance" premieres in NYC
James Ritty patents first cash register, to combat stealing by bartenders in his saloon in Dayton, Ohio
On November 4, 1879
Frank W. Woolworth opens his 1st successful "F. W. Woolworth Great Five Cent Store" on North Queen Street, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
On June 21, 1879