Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

1981's New Telepaper

1981. Start Me Up, Urgent, Endless Love, Rapture, The Winner Takes It All, Who Can It Be Now? and Queen of Hearts were on the radio. Dallas was the number one show on American television. The British family's royal wedding that year was the most popular global television broadcast, with an audience of 750 million people. In those days, the adoration of machines was limited to an innocent love of muscle cars and Atari video games.

Below the jump, see a news report from that year about an experiment with computers that allowed a newspaper - minus all the graphics - to be downloaded onto a computer remotely via a modem. Pre-Internet, the download over the telephone line took over 2 hours at a cost of USD $5 per hour, in 1981 dollar values. That would be almost USD $13 per hour today. Journalists tried to imagine what this new technology would mean for their profession.

The 1981 Atari video game catalogue. Image Source: Hughes Johnson.

On Youtube, where the 1981 news report was posted, commenters remarked:
  • "1:32 "Richard Halloran Owns Home Computer" LOL"
  • "We laugh about it now, but think about what this meant in 1981. The very thought of computers sharing information remotely was mind blowing at the time. I remember even being amazed in the early 90s that I could dial into a newspaper's server and read news stories. A far cry from now being able to just hop on at any time and check out any site I want without changing connections." 
  • "OMG. A classic AT&T telephone, using PULSE DIALING. With an ACOUSTIC MODEM. Wow... I remember those. Some youngster suggested that the dude was dialing in at 1200 baud, well, I can tell you that he certainly wasn't. Much more likely he was dialing in at 300 baud, maybe even just 110 baud, given the computer, time period, and time it took to download a digital edition. Remember paying *by the hour* to dial into a multi-user BBS system like CompuServe?!? Total flashback."
  • "It is an amazing thing to have witnessed the end and beginning of two different eras."
  • "I was born 10 years after this report aired haha."
  • "I wonder if in 2041 people will look at a video of how it was in 2013 and laugh at our primitive 'handheld' gadgets. I bet information will be streaming directly into the human brain and video as a concept itself will be obsolete."
  • "Someday there will be a report like this about glass."
  • "The internet is no more immortal than the telegraph or semaphore communication."
  • "In 20 years we will be watching today's videos about driverless cars and laughing."
  • "Very nostalgic! My first computer was a TRS-80 with a 300 baud telephone modem. Anyone remember war dialing? Oh well... good times. The touch-screen tablet and smartphone is part of my every day life now."
  • "Funny...the news report should have started with 'imagine, waking up with your morning coffee, and watching porn on your computer well were kinda far away from that, but we got news papers. That's a start.'"
A 1981 second generation Pontiac Firebird. Image Source: Prince.org.

A 1981 second generation Chevrolet Camaro. Image Source: Nasty Z28.

A 1981 BMW M1. Image Source: Wiki

A 1981 DeLorean DMC-12. Image Source: Sunset Classics.

The innovation in technology barely hinted at changes to come. Politically, an old exclusive world of wealth and privilege was still intact, balanced against a much bigger, rising mass popular culture and mass politics. While technological innovation appears today to have favoured the latter, the jury is still out on that one. Will the Technological Age become dominated by the Haves, or the Have Nots?

The 1981 inaugural family photo, with President Reagan and Nancy Reagan at centre. Image Source: Wiki.

Brixton riots, UK (1981). Image Source: Guardian.

Video Source: Youtube.

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