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The heart of tech

This article was published on March 18, 2016

    This 1984 video explaining how to send email is a blast from the past

    Owen Williams
    Story by

    Owen Williams

    Former TNW employee

    Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their word Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their words friendlier. In his spare time he codes, writes newsletters and cycles around the city.

    It’s hard to imagine people going online more than three decades ago, but email’s been around since at least 1972. This British program from 1984 tries to show people what email is and why they should use it.

    Just like other computer shows of the area, it’s got a particular awkwardness as the presenter tries to explain ‘electronic message writing down the phone line’ and the ‘home users’ demonstrate how to use a modem.

    The video first aired on Thames TV’s computer programme ‘Database,’ which aired until 1992. Another episode detailed how to send international email from overseas by making expensive long distance calls.

    It’s amazing to see how far the technology has come – as the presenter stuffs the phone receiver “really firmly” into the modem to make sure he’s got a good link, I realized that I’m sitting here on a fiber-optic connection and all I did was open my laptop.