If you’re too young to remember video tapes, you don’t know what you’re missing. Back in 1989, watching a movie usually involved a trip to the local video rental store. And if you were hoping to watch a popular recent release, you’d often be disappointed as the store’s two copies would probably already be rented out. So if you couldn’t watch Die Hard, or Who Framed Roger Rabbit, you’d have to settle for one of the previous year’s hits, like Batman or Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
Today, most people watch digitally streamed movies via a set-top box or laptop, or even on the go with a handheld device. And with tens of thousands of titles to choose from, viewers are truly spoilt for choice. And it’s not just movies. There are brilliant box sets, award-winning documentaries, and whole libraries of lifestyle shows all available in a couple of swipes.
30 years ago, every home had a landline telephone, usually with a rotary dial and a chunky handset. The house phone would take pride of place on a coffee table, accompanied by the local telephone directory, a copy of the Yellow Pages (essential for finding plumbers/plasterers/painters & decorators) and a personal phone directory containing the numbers of friends and family – because phones couldn’t store numbers.
The processing power of today’s smartphones dwarfs supercomputers from earlier decades. And with that tiny device in your back pocket you can connect to social media, read the newspaper, navigate via satellite, do your banking, trade shares, buy groceries, watch a movie, play music, track your fitness. And even make a phone call.
1989 was a landmark year in the gaming industry, with the launch of Nintendo’s handheld Game Boy and the new Sega Mega Drive. Featuring a 16-bit processor and speeds up to 7.6 MHz, this cutting-edge technology introduced a new generation of gamers to characters like Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario. Yet by today’s standards, this kit looks archaic.
Good graphics and games details are all about computer processing speeds, and the latest consoles run at around 2.3GHz – that’s more than 300 times faster than the 1989 Mega Drive. And gaming firms are already developing the next-generation of tech that encompasses facial recognition, gesture control (using your hands instead of a consol to control play) artificial intelligence and augmented reality.