Wednesday 10 April 2013

How time flies

When I was in Coventry last week, I happened upon the Herbert Museum and Art Gallery. This is a really accessible series of exhibits with stuff for youngsters to fiddle with and plenty, though not too much, captioning to keep the grown-ups happy. 

As a child of the '60s I’ve seen relics from my formative years displayed before. I was, however, rather taken aback to come across some items from the 1980s. Surely that can’t be right? I mean, the 1980s is my coming-of-age decade. Don't tell me I’m old enough to be in a museum! There were examples of music and football memorabilia, and some hideous clothing, and the most enormous microwave oven. But what really caught my eye was the ZX Spectrum 8-bit personal home computer, which was released in the UK in 1982. We had one of those and used to marvel at its colour display, such a huge improvement on the black and white of its predecessor, the ZX81.

Looking back to the Victorian and Edwardian eras isn’t too big a leap for us even now, because we still recognise brand names, even if the paper wrapping has been replaced by plastic and vacuum packs. Artefacts from the '40s and '50s seem familiar to me because some of them there were still around when I was growing up. Things evolved slowly back then.

Remember the daisy-wheel printer?
Today, though, thanks to industrial and technological developments, what was current only a few years ago is laughable now. Fashions change. Anyone still using a videophone? And do you remember the excitement of the Sony Walkman? How cool was that! But soon that was replaced with the personal CD player, which was cooler still – unless you tried to jog while carrying it. I have just bought a 32Gb memory stick the size of my thumbnail to use in the car. It's already storing thousands songs, and there is still for more. Amazing.

So make the most of your iPad, because any day now it’ll be consigned to the archives.

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