Technology

Sensurround

If you went to see Earthquake (1974) at a cinema, chances are that it was in "Sensurround". The Sensurround system was designed to envelop the audience with special audible and low-frequency infrasonic effects. The audience experienced the illusion of participation when they felt the movement of air generated by powerful Sensurround horns, designed to send vibrations against the(...)

Sinclair C5

"Imagine a vehicle that can drive you five miles for a penny. A vehicle that needs no petrol - just a battery. And that takes the press of a button to start, the squeeze of a lever to stop. That needs no license, no road tax, and you can drive whether you're 14 or 40.(...)

Sinclair ZX81

Sir Clive Sinclair's second home computer (following the ZX80) was a massive success, selling hundreds of thousands across the UK, although it didn't really have a keyboard as we know them - you had to type on a membrane/bubblewrap hybrid - and its graphics were blocky and black and white . The solid lump of(...)

Skylab

In July 1979, people began to stare nervously at the sky. After six years in space, Skylab, the orbiting US space laboratory, was due to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere, but no one knew exactly where the 77 tons of equipment would actually 'land'. On the evening of 11 July, revellers across the US painted target symbols(...)

Space Race, The

In the 1950's and 1960's, the USA and the Soviet Union raced each other to be first into space. The Soviet Union won. On 4 October 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik 1, the first spacecraft to circle the world in space orbit. America was immediately abuzz with conjecture: Were the Commies spying on the US from(...)

Space Shuttle

Plans for the Space Shuttle were created in 1972 as a way to keep the cost of spaceflight down. The first space shuttle orbiter Enterprise flew in 1977, and in 1981 the reusable craft Columbia started to fly missions. The five STS (Shuttle Transportation System) vehicles - Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavor - made space flight look as easy as an airplane flight. Each(...)

Star Wars Program (SDI)

The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was an attempt by the USA to develop a defence system against incoming nuclear missiles, based in part outside the Earth's atmosphere.Nicknamed ''The Star Wars Program'', it was announced by President Reagan in March 1983, and by 1990 the research had cost over $16.5 billion. The essence of the SDI was to(...)

Tamagotchis

Already hugely popular in Japan, Bandai's Tamagotchis - or "virtual pets" - were all the rage in the US in 1997. Retailing for between $9.99 and $12.99 the little electronic pets (which required you to take care of their needs by pushing specific buttons lest they "die" from neglect) were moving out of New York's(...)

Telstar

Test Tube Babies

The world’s first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, weighing five pounds twelve ounces, was delivered by a Caesarean operation at Oldham District General Hospital, Greater Manchester, on 26 July 1978.

Thalidomide

Thalidomide was a pharmaceutical ingredient used in medicines in the early 1960s as a sedative, and prescribed mainly to expectant mothers in the early stages of pregnancy to prevent morning sickness. It was eventually discovered that this drug was the main cause of deformities such as malformation of limbs or internal organs. In many cases,(...)

Transistor Radios

When the transistor replaced the bulky and unreliable vacuum tube in amplification units, transistors did the job better and were much smaller, making it possible to drastically reduce the size of radios and record players. Transistors also had significantly lower power usage which meant that batteries became an option as a power source. The first(...)

TV Detector Vans

Since television licenses first appeared in the UK, the TV Detector Man has been a ghoulish spectre who can allegedly track down telly-watchers by means of a revolving thingamy-wotsit on top of his detection van. The vans had a mysterious, faintly disturbing Orwellian aura about them. The majority of vans were no doubt just dummies,(...)

Video Cassette Recorder (VCR)

The advent of the VCR suddenly offered the TV viewer a different relationship with broadcast television by making it possible to time shift, to zap commercials and to store and re-view programs. A British newspaper article from 1971 had the following to say about the humble VCR: "A machine that tapes and plays back TV(...)

Video Games

Video Games

Encouraged by the success of Atari, other companies tried dipping their joysticks into the home video game market in 1976. Coleco introduced Telstar Pong, while the Fairchild Camera and Instrument Company weighed in with the Fairchild Channel F; the first programmable home game console, it came with large cartridges that could be inserted in order to(...)

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