Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Colour on black and white

In the 1960s, families would sit around the TV set together after their evening meal. Primary school meant no homework, so from the time I got home until bedtime, most evenings were spent glued to the box, with a brief interlude for supper. Like in every other household. After children's TV - BBC - we were (lower) middle class - it would be the early evening news, followed by Town and Around (replaced in 1969 by Nationwide), the local current affairs programme.

From 1965 onwards, Town and Around was followed on Wednesdays by Tomorrow's World, a popular science programme dedicated to bringing the future of technology to your living room. Presented at the time I watched it most by Raymond Baxter and James Burke, it created the impression (which turned out to be correct) that our lives would indeed be changed by the gadgets being invented by science.

Yet the Wikipedia page about Tomorrow's World indicates that actually precious little by way of life-changing inventions appeared in the 1960s on this programme, other than the breathalyser and the cash machine. More typical fare (apart from all the fascinating space race stuff culminating in the moon landing) was the widely advertised programme about a new technology that allowed you to watch colour TV on a standard black and white set.

This post was prompted by a vivid flashback I had to that very show, discussed avidly in the school playground before and after its broadcast. Looking at the LED screen on the 709 bus home from Wilanowska yesterday, watching the little lights rearrange to form the name of the next stop and the current time, brought back memories of that very programme, some 40 years ago.

Read about it here, and the theory behind it here.

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