Saturday 11 October 2014

The Self Preservation Society

Fifty years or so can be a long while in terms of technology, think 1825 to 1875 or 1905 to 1955.  If anything in the last fifty or so change may have speeded up.  This deep thinking arises from watching the late 1960's film "The Italian Job" recorded on the box.

If you do not know it, Wikipedia has a decent item.  It was a caper film about a clever heist in Turin using cars released in 1969 in full colour and starring Michael Caine and many of the famous faces of the day.  It ends unresolved with a literal cliff hanger, a bus rocking above a ravine at risk of falling.

Some things have not changed.  The gold price is still a key economic item, there are problems with our Balance of Payments, on the roads Mini-Coopers can still be seen as can examples of top end sports cars, although very different items under the bonnet and much else, also they do not rust quite so quickly.

One of the key features in the film was the role of major computers in the control of Turin's traffic systems.  Much of this was fanciful and in a sense futuristic.  This computer was housed in a huge block with teams of expert staff and a large banks of whirring machines.

Yet the computer power in such a system then was rather less than the Sky Box sitting under my TV, never mind the TV itself and this do not compare to the capability of the little laptop on which this item is being knocked out by a one unpaid person.

In the late 1960's the vast majority of the population knew little about computers and were bemused by what was alleged to be their function.  Many able people regarded them as glorified typewriters that would only ever do the most mundane work albeit with a small number of higher functions which had very restricted applications.

One of the great questions is why the UK, which might have had a head start in the computer age and had some priority or recognition of the wider potential were not at the forefront.  We did have experts and some people with the ability but were well behind the game at the critical points of time.

A reason, among many, is that the state put its money behind other things which did not work out.  This would be at the same time it was backing declining industries and fixated on big companies while small business paid the taxes and were hamstrung by both regulations and capital restrictions.

As in many areas of business it was difficult to get started, more so to expand and real growth was hit by a range of costs beyond those which others had to meet.  There are many areas of manufacture that have now gone, or almost.  Along with this are those which were never able to really grow as they should have done.

It is not getting any better.

1 comment:

  1. "There are many areas of manufacture that have now gone, or almost."

    I think we'll regret that in the not too distant future.