#BTTF : What was 1985 like for computers

Just a bit of fun.

Today, Oct 21st 2015, is “Back to the Future” day, the fictional day that Doc & Marty travelled to in 1985’s top-grossing film.

Sadly we don’t have hover boards and much of the other various stuff predicted or imagined some 30 years ago (we do have retro 1980’s cafe’s though).

In fact, about the only thing they got right was an obscure reference to thumbprint recognition. But, we’re not here to sully the memory of one of the great films of the 80’s – were here to remember what computing was like in 1985.

Boy, it was scary. Microsoft owned the business space almost entirely with third-party prodicts such as Lotus 1-2-3 (Spreadsheet), DBII (database applications) and WordStar (Word processing) rounding out the corporate world. Most folks under the age of 30 won’t recognise any of the products, and most would agree Microsoft is a shadow of it’s former self.

Computer were called “Personal Computers” but were expensive, costing over £2,000 (equals about £5,000 today) so few homes had anything that good and had to make do with the BBC Micro, Commodore or a Sinclair something.

Windows 1.0 was released, and entirely ignored, in late 1985. Steve Jobs fells out with the main Apple board and was removed, to return over a decade later and ultimately save Apple.

It was also the year that the laser printer appeared on a commercial level, allowing the growth of desktop publishing and the first step in democratising content management and publication – a drive that is carried on today with WordPress, Tumblr, Medium and Quartz using purely electronic means.

1985 also saw the standarisation of the various flavours of Unix – this would later become Linux, which is the platform of choice for web-servers and super-computers in this decade. Domain Names were also born this year, not that it mattered yet. Super Mario appeared on the Nintendo System.

In non-computer news, Eastenders was first broadcast, New Coke appeared, the hole in the ozone was discovered, Live Aid kicks off around the world. Football has a terrible year with the deaths at the Valley Parade fire and Heysel Stadium riots.

30 years come and go in the blink of an eye, much like our near-20 year history as an agency. If there is one thing to take from this: the future is probably not as you imagine, and will arrive sooner than you think.