C30, C60, C90 Go!
It was the must have Christmas present of 1973, a mini portable cassette tape recorder (just the size of a shoe box with buttons beautifully moulded in the shape of dominoes – swoon) and a triple pack of c60 cassette tapes – ‘Oh I am loved’ I thought as I joyfully ripped the wrapping paper off and spent the rest of Christmas day trying to record mum and dad saying something, anything, vaguely rude to play back to my brother and red faced parents while rolling around the front room laughing. Could this be the future? A place where we could home tape songs off the radio - with an admitted faint hiss and whirr off the tape playback, but even so, how good was this?
Video Cassette Recorder
A few years later I was jumping into action at my cousins wedding with a portable Video Cassette Recorder in just the size and weight of a single house brick and (wow, get this) a spare battery in the sleek, handy size of a hardback book. How blessed were we all by those nifty technical boffins at Sony? Well I imagine we could hardly guess what with their neat Sony Walkman and Kodak’s innovative mini disc camera with such dinky and neat negative slides. Radio was also impressing everyone as it jumped from scratchy medium wave to smooth(ish) FM stereo and then another bright spark invented onion skin writing paper for an extremely light airmail letter so your loved ones could enjoy reading all the latest news just a week or so later. And as for satellite tv, goodbye to tedium and hello to The Simpsons and the earthly delights of The Shopping Channel.
Compact Disc – delightful with jam
Hi fi was also changing fast. So, ‘fair well’ to vinyl and 45rpms and ‘hello’ super shiny, long life Compact Discs. Whoo hoo! Just look at curly haired Judith Hann slathering strawberry jam all other that Compact Disc, then still manage to play it later on Tomorrow’s World. Life was just one seamless stream of improvement, magical modification and manic miniaturisation.
Space 1999 - Gimme my silver space suit!
I remember once playing back my cousins wedding day video, later in the same afternoon and watched the blink of utter amazement from my great aunt Ilene. It was almost unfathomable to her and just as well that a bright (modest) and young twentieth century lad, like myself, could keep up…
BBC Acorn buster!
Back then, thinking about the future, where, alas, Space 1999 let us down so badly with the failed supply of any silver space suits and hover gliders, it all seemed so natural. Everything would get smaller, technology would make our working days shorter and everyone would have access to BBC Acorn software and need to think very seriously about what to do with an inordinate amount of, almost, enforced leisure time. Hooray! Someone might even make those ridiculous, so called portable phones a little bit smaller than the ruck sack size they were in the movies. As if!
Enter the incredible shrinking smart phone
As if anyone could make the radio, tv, newspapers, camera, video, books, publishing, film and compact disc music recordings any more simple, small and straightforward. I would never fall out of love with them or standing beside the finished, 3D, cultural product at Radio Rentals, WHSmith, HMV, Virgin megastore, Spinadisc, Our Price and, er, Woolworths…Can anyone spot the link with that little lot? Maybe I’ll Google it, or check it on my smart phone, tucked inside my breast pocket…
…and roll the tape…
OMG J The future is slimmer, smaller and already here. How obvious was that? Another unmistakable item among my growing list of fifty fabulous things. However, how come I still can’t make a digital radio mix tape like my beloved cassette tape recorder with all those trusty, chunky, sturdy and domino sized ‘play’ and ‘record’ buttons? The future worked back in the bulky day…