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Back to the 1980s, Reagan’s techno-education

As we said last time, in the mid 1980’s, we had big hopes for the future.

The year 2015 would feature flying cars, hovering skateboards, inflating vests, and billboards of sharks that ate you.  Ordinary kids would use terms from 3d design in their slang.  Although cooking would get much quicker, kids would appreciate “rehydration” done right.

So what if they thought the fax would still be in widespread use, the people from Reagan’s time would be right to be disappointed in how slow our progress has been.

We thought things would get cheaper, faster, better. With the way things were developing, we really thought that the year 2000 would be just like a sci-fi movie.

Tim Berners-Lee invented Http and html just after the eighties, but both these were based on earlier technology.

DSL, the forerunner of broadband, was demonstrated in the late 1980s. We already knew that in theory, copper could transmit date quickly. Yet people still pretend like the Internet is a new invention.

Apart from Minitel, an early commercial Internet company, Prodigy, was offering home Internet in 1984. It was predated by compuserve, which offered “online” services in 1979.

Video games were really coming into place, with PacMan initiating the crazy of arcades. Not quite as small as a DS, an arcade nonetheless put the latest in entertainment technology into the fingers of any kid who had a quarter.

Compared to everything else that was going on, it might seem that Steve Jobs’ Apple computers were just a side show. However, most good schools had at least Apple, and kids were taught to type and program on them. They were sturdy, and many Apples from the era are still working today.

While modern cellphones are much smaller than 1980s carphones, kids in the eighties were awaiting phones that were an extra function on a watch. I’ve yet to see a mobile that can comfortably fit on my wrist. We all thought such gadgets would be commonplace before the turn of the millennium.

One place we are partly catching up with our eighties imagination is in military technology. Though a drone assassin is not yet like Terminator, it’s getting there. The idea that a robot could find you anywhere in the world was once thought to be a paranoid fantasy, now it’s a development that the majority of Americans are cheering.

When Arnold “Arnie” Schwarzenegger played the Terminator, he could hardly have predicted where the robot would take him. And he could hardly predict what would happen to our image of the President.

(part 4…)