Flashback: 1986 and 1997

This afternoon I’ll be discussing 1986 and 1997 on Becky Want’s Flashback on BBC Radio Manchester. Tune in on 95.1 if you’re in the Manchester area or check it out on Listen Again. I’ll be on around 16:30.

If you’ve heard the show and looked me up to find out more information, then welcome to the blog! Hope you find it interesting and useful.


  • The disposable camera was launched by Fuji. They’re one of those inventions you think has been around forever but actually are relatively recent. Until the advent of the camera phone, these were the primary source for the most embarrassing snaps.
  • The Atari ST launched in the UK to rival the Amiga It was like Spectrum vs Commodore 64 all over again and the debates about which was better continue today. In the end the decision for most people came down to the MIDI support on the ST, or the price (in 1986 the Atari was £399 whereas the Amiga was over £1200 — the later Amiga 500 reduced the price to £599 — still a significant difference).
  • Amstrad bought the computer products line from Sinclair, maker of the Spectrum. The money went to fund the continued development of the Sinclair C5 electric tricycle, a total disaster. Less than 17,000 were ever sold.
  • The Sega Master System was launched — competing with the Nintendo Entertainment System. This site is a great tribute.
  • Transformers were top of the Christmas list for children (and some adults).


  • IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer beat the grandmaster Gary Kasparov at chess. Computers had won games before but never whole matches.
  • DVD movies went on sale in the UK but sales didn’t overtake VHS until 2003. That’s why every charity shop is full of old videos!
  • The Psion Series 5 PDA launched, the last model from the very competitive UK firm. It still has its devotees. Check out this review from 1999.
  • The first supersonic land-speed record was set by the ThrustSSC team (not really anything to do with gadgets but good tech story)
This post forms part of my Blogs series. For more posts on this subject, visit the Blogs page.

Tom Cheesewright


Futurist speaker Tom Cheesewright is one of the UK's leading commentators on technology and tomorrow. Tom has worked with a huge range of organisations across a variety of markets, to help them to see a clear vision of tomorrow, share that vision and respond with agility. Tom draws on his experience to create original, compelling talks that are keyed to the experience of the audience but which surprise and shock with unexpected facts and examples.

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