Meeting Maggie Philbin and Stephen Fry in my living room

Tomorrow's World (along with Top of the Pops) made Thursday evening the best TV evening of the week (in fact the best evening of the week, but that's another story). We would be shown some really cool new inventions, many of which had great potential to change things. I don't remember many of them appearing in normal life though. When I worked for a small electronics company I understood about how much is involved in bringing things to market, and making them on a big enough scale to make enough money to make more.

I remember when the Walkman was first shown, something which did change how music was listened to. My memory of the way it was presented, which many be flawed, was that the revolutionary part was not the small tape mechanism, but the headphones. The inventors had found a way to get good quality sound from a tiny speaker, because after all, who wants to walk around with a big pair of headphones on?



I also remember when the digital camera was first shown. Although it was new, I thought, "of course, break a picture down into pixels and store it digitally". Not that making it wasn't an achievement, but it was a logical outcome of pixels. Again, my memory may be frail, but I think at the same time they showed a thermal printer so you could get the pictures "developed" relatively quickly.

My Dad (he too was a fan) had a book based on the series which I read several times. The presenters that were on it when I was watching were Raymond Baxter, the founder of the show, William Woollard, Michael Rodd, Kieran Prendiville, Judith Hann and Maggie Philbin. Do those names bring back memories for you? I heard a story many years ago from someone who had an invention featured on the programme. Judith was demonstrating it and in order to make something happen she needed to press three keys. Someone thought this was too prone to failure, for whatever reason. So instead she pressed a key on fake keyboard and the inventor pressed the three keys on the real keyboard.

What I didn't know until I looked up the programme on Wikipedia just now, was that there were many other presenters, and it ran for many more years than when I stopped watching, which was probably some time in the mid-80s, while I was at University.

Given that history I was very pleased when Maggie Philbin appeared on Bang Goes the Theory earlier this year. The programme had transformed itself from a fun and games science show to showing the science behind the news. I'm happy with either, but I wonder if there was pressure to be more educational. I checked on Twitter and Maggie has a twitter account. When Tomorrow's World first came out it was all one way - from the TV (or the book) to our living room. Now I could, should I want to, tweet Maggie and maybe we'd have a conversation in our living room. Stephen Fry is a prolific tweeter and you may end up having a conversation with him too. How far we've come. It's like we're living in the world of tomorrow. Now there's an idea for a TV programme...

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