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Posted by Tom Cheesewright on

Flashback on BBC Radio Manchester: 1979

It’s Flashback time again on BBC Radio Manchester, with two years I haven’t posted about before: 1979 and 2008. Listen live at 4:25 this afternoon on 95.1FM if you’re in the Manchester area, or on iPlayer if you’re not.

First up, the tech stories of 1979:

  • VisiCalc was launched, the first spreadsheet program for PCs. Accountants rejoiced, or at least the more progressive ones (like my dad) did.
  • The rise of the robots began: an industrial robot at a Ford car plant in Michigan killed Robert Williams, resulting in a $10 million dollar lawsuit.
  • Hayes introduced what was to become the industry standard in modems for the next twenty years, enabling dial-up internet access for the masses.
  • Atari introduced the arcade version of Asteroids.
  • CompuServe launched the first commercial email service.
  • The Post Office launched Prestel, a predecessor to the internet using proprietary systems to provide access to 160,000 pages of information via telephone, computers, and TV sets. Content included news, train times, stock market prices and even early e-commerce for travel reservations. Early systems were expensive but it soon switched to per-usage billing.
Posted by Tom Cheesewright on

Flashback on BBC Radio Manchester: 2008

Second Flashback year of the day on BBC Radio Manchester this afternoon at 4:25 is 2008. Listen live on 95.1FM, or via the iPlayer if you’re outside the Manchester area. I’ll be talking about the technology stories of 1979, and 2008 — details of the latter below:

  • Blu Ray defeated HD DVD, with the HD DVD consortium surrendering on the 19th February.
  • The Tesla EV1 Roadster became available to the public. This Lotus-based electric car redefined what was possible, with an electronically-limited top speed of 125mph and a 0–60 time under 4 seconds. A seven seat hatchback model is launching in 2011 and I want one.
  • The Large Hadron Collider went live, and then went off again nine days later following an electrical fault. The fault caused six tonnes of liquid helium to be released and the force from this gas flooding into a vacuum caused 10-ton magnets to shear from their mountings. It will restart in November this year and contrary to popular belief, the world will not end.
  • The Global Seed Vault in Svalbard opened, a gigantic repository for plant samples that will enable us to jumpstart nature in the wake of an ecological disaster.
  • 23andme began offering genome scanning on a retail basis. For $399 and a sample of your spit you can find out about your risk from genetic diseases, and your ancestry.
  • The first bionic eyes were implanted into two blind patients at the Moorlands Eye Hospital in London. They can now see light and dark using a camera mounted on a pair of glasses that sends a signal back to an implant at the back of the eye.
  • The SpaceX Falcon 1 becomes the first privately developed space launch vehicle to reach orbit. Last month it was used to deliver the RazakSat, a Malaysian imaging satellite.
Tom Cheesewright