Inflation? I think not.

Vintage British Argos 1985 Catalogue

Everything costs more than it used to, right? Basic theory of supply and demand spiked by importing everything except greed, which we’re pretty good at making ourself. Except computers of course which conform toMoore’s law,and are further subsidised by the post-industrial-revolution work-houses of the Far East.

Which goes some way to explaining why every family I know seem to have more complex electronics than people. Quick count here shows 3 Smartphones, this Macbook, my PC, Carol’s PC, kids laptop, Kids PC, Android Tablet, Kindle and a wide assortment of Nintendo stuff hiding under sofa covers. Plus a drawer full of abandoned PDAs and Dumbphones.

But back in the day when sitting in front of a computer screen wasn’t considered a normal way to spend your entire life, things were somewhat different. That fantastic scan from the 1985 Argos Catalogue (thanks Will, top find) showcases the Commodore 64 at a nadge under£200. Inflation link that and ratchet it forward 25 years and you’d be in the market for most of the stuff we have in our house.

So when Mr Olsen (head of DEC-then Compaq then HP, now who the hell knows) confidently predicted that no one would ever need a computer at home back in 1979, he wasn’t being entirely stupid. Because what kind of mentalist would pay£45 for a tape drive when normal people would be using that kind of money to go on holiday.

Ah, exciting times tho. I went all misty eyed on being shown the next picture

Vintage British Argos 1985 Catalogue

I’m not so sure which is my favourite; the microdrive or the attache case. I love the idea of turning up to a meeting, outing the Speccy and then asking to borrow a monitor, plugging it all in, firing it up and then waiting for something to load from the microdrive. And for what? To play Manic Minder? Business is a far poorer place now with the ubiquitous laptop, powerpoint and projector.

There’s much, much more to be found hereand I’d encourage a full cup of tea perusal of it. Last night, I found myself nodding at items staking a placeholder in my life from long, long ago. Including – and this may surprise those of you who have actually met me – a hairdryer.

The past is a different country, they do different things there” so said LP Hartley back in 1948. I think the bloke was onto something.

7 thoughts on “Inflation? I think not.

  1. Julian

    Manic Minder? Starring a coked-up Dennis Waterman frantically trying to escape from a mine before his oxygen supply runs out 😉

  2. Alex

    @Julian – yeah that’s pretty much how I remember it.

    @Tim I reckon I had no 3) on that page for a few years. Can’t believe how much money they are!

  3. Manic Miner wasn’t it? along with Air Atak (my first ever game), jumping jack and gilligans gold.. ah, I miss the good old days of waiting 5 minutes for a game to load only for it to crash and have to rewind the tape then start again 🙂

  4. Alex

    It was. Julian and I were just riffing on my pre-coffee spelling 😉

    I may start a campaign “Bring Back the Wobbly Ram Pack”. Ah those happy days of it falling off the back of the speccy after typing in 4 hours of 1s and 0s. Or it catching fire.

  5. Errr… I knew that really :/

    Did anyone actually ever finish programming one of those ‘games’ that used to get printed in the spectrum magazines?

  6. Alex

    Once. Then the ram pack fell off. Then amazingly it took on a whole new purpose as a flying brick. Which lasted exactly long enough for it to pick up great speed before impacting a wall. Very satisfying it was.

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