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Look back in wonder: 50 years of magic

So I’m having lunch with a mate and half way through the conversation am hit with an epiphany.

It went something like:

Friend: “It’s amazing the movies that were so big over the last few years, like Inception and the Matrix. Love ‘em.”

Chris: “So do I, but then I really like all the sci-fi movies from Star Trek and Star Wars through Aliens and Predator to the Matrix and stuff.”

Friend: “Must be a sign of how our generation were raised on such things.”

Chris: “Or a sign that when we were kids everyone was enamoured about space due to the first space trips to the moon whereas today we’re all thinking about alternative realities due to the ideas of Second Life and Utherverse on the internet.”

At that point, I suddenly took a step back and went: “OMG”, as it made me realise how much of our world is influenced by developments such as the internet around us.

All it takes is a little imagination to step from chat rooms and Facebook to alternative worlds and holodecks. Equally, to move from Apollo 11 to first alien contact.

And this is what was reflected in these historical developments where space flights inspired the whole genre of 1960s sci-fi whilst living in alternative online worlds inspired the dreamscapes of today’s other world virtual realities.

These ideas are also a reflection of how technology has changed our world over the past fifty years.

For example, over Christmas I was watching a nostalgic program about iconic British comedians Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, who influenced generations of Brits with their humour.

They were massive in the 1960s and 1970s, and even now many people use their catchphrases and innuendo in everyday conversation.

The BBC drama portrayed how they grew up and got their first breaks in showbiz.

Halfway through the program they were signed up by the BBC for: TELEVISION.

TELEVISION was the new phenomena.

Like RADIO on the WIRELESS before, TELEVISION was changing the world.

Cinema and radio would disappear as TELEVISION took over.

It was 1958 and Mr & Mrs Morecambe had brought a television set to watch Eric & Ernie on the BBC.

They were the first people to own a television set, and the neighbours all flocked around to watch the programme.

This would have been a community shockwave as no-one had a television set before.

It was a phenomena.

Roll on ten years and their television was moving from Black & White to Colour.


Roll on twenty years and video recording was launched.

I still remember wanting a recording of a program in 1982, but no-one had a video recorder.

It was too new.

Then I found one of my dad’s friends had one, and he taped David Bowie in the BBC broadcast of Berthold Brecht’s Baal for me.

I was forever in his gratitude.

Roll on thirty years and we were dumping vinyl for CD.

Forty years and video had moved to DVD.

Fifty years and it’s all downloading and free.

It amazes me that in the space of fifty years, we’ve moved from a Black & White TV being magical to anger if your phone can’t download the latest Rihanna song in a minute due to network issues.

But that’s progress.

So, when we talk about the next year of technology, we have to put it into the context of the last few years.

And that’s why the march of mobile and social is going to continue en masse this year.

For example, I first started talking seriously about mobile banking in 2003 and social banking in 2006.

Mobile took six years to come to fruition as a focal point, and I expect social will take a couple of years before mainstream banks ‘get it’ … but, in the context of decades, you can soon see why these things are so important.

No wonder the author Arthur C. Clarke said that: “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Fifty years

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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