Over at the BBC this afternoon for Flashback with Becky Want, talking about the gadgets of years past. Listen live around Manchester on 95.1FM, or on the iPlayer if you’re more digitally inclined.
Today’s years are 1991 and 2002. The latter year I’ve already posted some notes on previously, so here’s a few points on 1991 — not the most exciting year in technology…
- The World Wide Web went live, which is clearly huge, but I believe much of the work on it including its specification, was completed the previous year.
- Trevor Baylis introduced the wind-up radio, inspired by stories that safe sex messages weren’t reaching rural parts of Africa because of the lack of mains power and the price of batteries. Baylis is the archetypal potting shed inventor, an eccentric ex-stuntman with a creative mind, and I think he probably did much to kickstart enthusiasm for inventing stuff in the UK.
- IBM exited the type-writer business as PCs made the devices increasingly obsolete.
- The first phones appeared on passenger planes that could make calls from anywhere in the skies. Weird to think that was almost two decades ago, when soon we’ll have mobile phones working on flights.
100 years earlier there was a much more important gadget arriving on the scene. One that makes even the Web look unimportant (well, almost). The electric kettle first appeared in 1891.