Tomorrow’s World today

Way back when God was a wee lad, I used to watch "Tomorrows World" on the BBC.

My dad and I loved that programme when the reception was good and there wasn't too much interference.

Raymond Baxter would come on in glossy black and white and tell us about all these new ideas that we were going to be enjoying in the near future, which back in the sixties seemed like exciting times. 

I remember him [or maybe it was Judith Hann] telling us about little plastic disks that were going to replace the good old reliable cassette tape.  Oh, how we laughed!

I remember them telling us about a new-fangled idea of cooking our food using radio waves.  Oh, how we laughed!

One of their more fanciful ideas was that of the video-phone where you could see who you were talking to.  They even had a demonstration where you could just make out a blurry face on a little three inch black and white screen. They said it would never get better than that though because the wires weren't up to the amount of information needed.  Oh, how we went hysterical over that one!

I got chatting to the neighbours yesterday.  They are looking very well, I must say.  I should maybe point out that they are currently in Washington and we chatted via Skype.  The quality was excellent – full High Definition colour, no fuzzing, no delays, no distortion – it was like chatting over the fence.

They did actually want to show me what was over the fence so they carried their laptop out and raised it up.  I felt quite seasick with the motion, and it was ony a road over the fence so I'm not sure what the object of the exercise was, but never mind.  It was nice chatting to them though once the motion sickness had settled.  I silently doffed my cap to Raymond and Judith – yiz were right all those fifity years ago.  I'm sorry I laughed.

This morning the power went.  Puff!  Nothing.  Back to boiling kettles on the gas and no telephone or Interweb.

It was like being back in Yesterday's World.

Only in colour.

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Tomorrow’s World today — 13 Comments

  1. I remember employing Raymond Baxter for a training video once – a few years ago. He was Mr. Charming itself, but utterly incapable of learning lines in a short space of time. We managed quite well with a few appropriately placed cue cards and the end result was excellent. He was fun personified at the after-lunch reception, such a pity he did not live much longer. Remember him well.

    I have to recall that he was always telling the truth as his scriptwriters saw it, and at last many of their predictions actually happened. That’s the trouble with predicting the future. Truth eventually overcomes science fiction. Didn’t Clarke (or someone else) say that science fiction inventions begat actual real technology? Ref. Geoastationary orbiting satellites for global communications.

    • P.S.

      Sorry about the power out. I had a few moments oF Server Down experience today. Must be the curse of “Tommorows World”. Or Raymond exacting revenge for comments about his comments?

      • It came back after an hour.  I had just set a programme running on a server and couldn't monitor it!  Luckily it worked properly.

    • A lot of their predictions did come about such as the ones I mentioned above.  It was a great programme.  Raymond [if I may be so familiar] always came across as the perfect gentleman all right – the kind of bloke you'd invite around for dinner!

      Clarke stated that there were only two things that were impossible.  One was to conquer the Universe and the other was to break the laws of science.  I remember back in the sixties that he predicted that some day people would wear disposable computers on heir wrists, and that was long before the invention of the PC!

      • Have the – not doubt frequently comparable – distinction of inviting Raymond for dinner. Very intelligent, and a superbroadcaster, with a wide fund of stories about the “business”.

        Much missed.

        But then is Arthur C. Clarke. Such a maverick in his time, yet so capable of predictions beyond his era. Read his books and think…

        • I was a great fan of SF when I was a teenager; in fact I still am now. Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut and many many others. I devoured them all with a passion. I still have stacks of dog-eared paperbacks which I bought in the 60s, and I still enjoy re-reading them. And many of them were indeed remarkably prescient.

          I distinctly remember having deep discussions in the early 60s with my best mate about how 'wouldn't it be amazing to have 'phones that you could carry around with you', which we both realised was complete fantasy and would never, ever happen, but was a nice idea to play with.

          It's a funny old life…

          • Loved all these authors too and recently re read Arthur C Clarke's Childhoods End, an original dog eared copy and one of my favourites.

  2. Did they predict drones and television satellites that could analyze the clothing on our washing lines and read the registration plates on our cars?

    • I think they did, though it was considered maybe a little far fetched.  Don't forget – this was in the era where satellites where in their infancy, but I know they talked about the possibility of trans-Atlantic television via satellite [one of space's worst drawbacks!].  

      Anyone remember Echo 1? 😉

  3. I too used to love Tomorrow's World, not just because it was a genuinely fascinating programme – who'd have thought so many of the "weird and wacky" ideas that they outlined then would actually come to fruition – but also because it was always so unerringly positive about the future, unlike today's "predictive" programmes which all seem to be full of depressing doom and gloom about how we are all "Doomed! Doomed, I tell you!"

    • In those days science was real and optimistic.  Now it all seems to be epidemiology and health which by its nature is predicting a gloomy and dismal future.  Nobody seems to talk optimistically about the future these days.

      • One TW exception I remember from the mid-late 80s. The show was set up as if a massive USSR nuclear attack was actually happening. I was a kid and it scared me silly.

  4. I amassed 4 of these BT Relate 2000's some while back, needless to say 2 of them the screen is kaput, but still work as ordinary telephones, the 2 working ones, you also need the mains transformer up the arse to power the display, might make a nice pair for a demo through my Pana 616 PBX…

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