Thursday, April 26, 2012

What *didn't* we have in the 70s?

Alternative comedians
Mobile phones
Your wage paid by cheque or money transfer
Clean air indoors
Much choice on TV or Radio
Time shifting
Minutes silences at football games
Everyday fireworks
Bottled water
Organic food
Proper coffee
Cosmetic surgery
Life coaches
"Products" for men
Personal trainers
Oyster cards
Automatic ticket barriers
Surveillance cameras
Cheap weekend flights to Europe
Channel tunnel
Computer games
Smokeless coal
Colour pictures in newspapers
Call centres
Unleaded petrol
Hair extensions
Cycle helmets
Plastic zips
Skimmed milk
Sunday opening
Drinking in the afternoon
Live football on the TV
Lite bites
Nouvelle cuisine
Urban foxes
Attack dogs
Leaf blowers
Women vicars
Four by fours
Outdoor heaters
Women drinking pints
Low tar cigarettes
Hen parties and stag weekends
Stretch limos
School proms
Airport security


  1. We didn't have 24 hour news coverage.. not a bad thing!

  2. And are today's young people grateful? Are they etc.

  3. Anywhere near as much overspending on credit.

  4. No smoking venues
    Nutrition information on food packaging
    Remote controls
    Bands that started or finished on time
    Artist endorsed live recordings available after the gig

  5. While all the above are unarguable, what I was trying to get at are the things that people take for granted about contemporary life that weren't invented in the last 15 years of profound technological change. Every time I turn on the radio at the moment I hear people talking about the 70s. This seems to boil down to a discussion of features of the decade such as flared trousers, punk rock and the three-day week. What I mainly remember about that decade is how little people had. In that sense the absences are more telling than anything.

  6. What does seem "unarguable" is that the old days were rubbish

  7. The old days weren't rubbish - at the time they were just like today - the present.

  8. If you haven't yet - Howard Sounes Seventies is worth adding to your Amazon basket, for it's overview of the decade (Martin Scorsese, John Updike, Diane Arbus, the Twin Towers) and reclaiming those years from the Abba, disco, spacehopper brigade

  9. Did have faxes. I worked for Dixons in 1972, and the Operational Research guy got a fax machine in. Used via an acoustic coupler @ about 2 bps it transmitted orders to Japan.

  10. Smokeless coal, too. Had to, in London. Cost a fortune.

  11. alcohol on sale in garages
    petrol stations

  12. Perfect football pitches.
    Modern players wouldn't walk their dogs on some of the surfaces that top class football was played on in the '70s.
    Don't mean that as a criticism of modern players, just an observation that pitches in the old days could range from bone-dry dust bowls to gloopy quagmires (the Baseball Ground springs to mind).

  13. The fax machine attained the age of 40 years during the 1970s. Remember those films where the police wire a photograph of the suspect to headquarters?

  14. "that weren't invented in the last 15 years of profound technological change."

    It's not just technological change. We've had 30-40 years of economic growth too. Sure, bit slow at present, 40 takes us to the early 70s, but even modest economic growth compounds.

    Per capita GDP in 1970 was $10,700 (Angus Maddison's inflation adjusted numbers) and in 2008 23,700.

    Even with the distributional change everyone's twice as rich.....just about.