Christmas

Moon landing tech seems so primitive…

Earlier this year the world looked back five decades to remember the moon landing. That momentous day in 1969 when man first made a small step onto the moon.

Any excuse to post that iconic photo from the moon landing (above), of course. But as 2019 drifts into 2020, let’s give one last fiftieth anniversary round of applause for that astronomical achievement. Amazing work, space people…

It’s still amazing, when you think about it – and it seems all the more amazing when you consider the basic technologies available at the time.

The lunar module itself was basically a couple of rolls of kitchen foil sticky-taped around a pop-up festival tent frame sitting in a barbecue, on top of some pound shop fireworks, and powered by a Tamagotchi.

My wife’s hair-dryer has more sophisticated functionality than the control panel in that craft. The auto feeder we use to keep our cat going when we’re away on hols has more computer oomph. 

And yet (if you’re a non-conspiracy theorist) that moon landing ‘lash-up’ did the job. Let’s take a whizz-bang journey through just a couple of other bits of kit which ‘did the job’ but now seem daft due to time’s giant leaps… 

One lump or two?

I don’t know about you, but I prefer coffee for an early morning kick-start. It’s not that I dislike tea – but, first thing, I want a drink that feels slightly more indulgent. Judging by the kit on show here, however, in the 1960s people were a bit more stiff-backed and preferred a piping hot brew of industrial-strength tea as soon as they opened their eyes.

They even made a machine to ensure they got it. The ‘teasmade’ was basically an automatic tea-making system triggered by an alarm clock. It sat there on your bedside table with the water just boiling away as you struggled to open your eyes and fumbled for the light… Scolding hot water, electricity and sleeping humans. What could possibly go wrong?

(Barry Patterson / Shutterstock)

We’re going into a tunnel, yeah?

The technology involved in creating portable consumer comms was in its infancy in the ’80s, obviously… So there’s no way we could have anticipated the amazing phones available these days. But has there ever been anything quite as oxymoronic as the original ‘mobile’ phones?

The units themselves were bulky and heavy – but perfectly sized for dual purposing… as a house-brick! You could build yourself a new home with them (at around two grand a brick)! Plus, reception and coverage were pretty poor – hence being able to single out mobile owners, ‘cos they were the ones screaming on trains.

moon landing
(Shutterstock)

For true joy stick to gaming…

Arcade favourites Space Invaders, PacMan, Frogger and Asteroids were a phenomenon. When they first started appearing in arcades in the late 1970s they seemed so futuristic. They were definitely addictive! At 10p a go, your pocket money soon vanished in a cosmic storm of cutting edge 8-bit graphics and wakka-wakka sound effects.

Nowadays, thousands of games are within easy reach on a single smartphone, and gaming PCs or consoles are compact but sophisticated bits of kit. It’s mind-boggling to remember that the wardrobe-sized arcade consoles of the ’70s and ’80s contained computer brains only big enough for one game each. 

moon landing
(Brian Kenney / Shutterstock)

I’ll be there in 10 minutes… Okay, make that an hour.

To be honest, this next one is the other way round. It seemed daft at the time – but the 21st-century has offered a bit of a chance to reassess…

I once owned a Mercedes Benz. Okay, it was their compact Smart car – but, I must confess, I loved it. So I do have a bit of affection for small but capable personal transport… Top speed of the one-person electric Sinclair C5, however, was around 15mph. So it never really caught on… In fact it became something of a laughing stock in its day. But the C5 has become a cult classic, often used in (admittedly low speed) racing meets!

Even though Sinclair didn’t ‘get it right’ in the ’80s, the perspective forced on us by these dangerous climate-change times means that the thinking behind the C5 now seems totally woke. Revolutionary, even… 

(Steve Mann / Shutterstock)

There’s actually so much more tech from over the years which could have featured here. In fact there are hundreds of things. But there just isn’t time…

That’s the tech we really need. Imagine if Ebuyer offered a device which’d mess with time! Something that’d allow us to make the magic moments last longer, and banish boredom by speeding through the bad… Get to it, inventors…

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