A Moment In Tech: 10 March 1988
Alright there gadget lovers, and welcome back to yet another instalment of A Moment In Tech, your weekly dose of technology nostalgia. It’s been seven whole days since your last portion, so strap yourselves in for another full-throttle ride. This week its 1988 under the microscope, the year of Celine Dion winning Eurovision with that classic Ne partez pas sans moi, and of the birth of Harry Potter associate and known Gingerist, Rupert Grint. But, of course, it was also stuffed full of tech goodness…
As you’ll know by now, the mobile game was fairly new in the eighties, and certainly a different arena entirely by today’s standards. Still, that didn’t stop some truly stylish handsets emerging from the decade, and none quite caught the eye like the Ericsson 900 Pocket. Small by the standards of the time, the now thought of as gigantic slab featured a fold-out aerial and a rather fetching orange and black colour palette, making it the leading device of the time. For fans of garish tech at least.
Of course its basic functions were fairly limited, but having been adapted from the rather bulky 900 Combi – its 4kg predecessor complete with an attached stand – this was a small price to pay. It proved a success for Ericsson, kick-starting the company’s journey to becoming a leading face in the emerging market before it arguably reached its peak in the noughties. And we all know what happened after that…
By the late eighties Sony had become well-established as personal audio dons (something we’ve told you many a time). But, in 1988 it decided to up its game, and came up with the rather ingenious WM-B52, a clever new version of its tried and tested cassette Walkman.
To all intents and purposes, the “Sport”, as it became known, was of a similar design but for a sickly yellow colour and a robust clip on the back, but there was one key difference that set it apart from the crowd; it was waterproof. Despite being a pretty basic player on the surface, the Sport’s impressive splashproof qualities meant it could be used by those upwardly mobile types whilst lounging by the pool, or those active types when out on a new-fangled “jog”. As a result, it proved a very popular release, and saw Sony’s dominance of the market maintain into the new decade.
Sports games are probably one of the biggest selling genres nowadays, what with that FIFA being so popular with the kids and all that. But, back in the day, the concept of the sports simulator was almost unheard of, a fact almost single-handedly changed by one franchise. It was in 1988 that NFL legend John Madden launched his eponymous franchise on the Apple II. And gaming hasn’t been the same since.
Influenced by the success of Earl Weaver Baseball, the other pioneer of the genre, John Madden Football took that crazy American game and let people control football teams in a simulation experience previously unseen. Due to a lack of official licenses, there were no authentic teams, strips or stadia, but customisable elements such as weather and injuries made up for this. Despite being pretty basic it sold like particularly hot cakes, and inspired a generation of sports sims. And, 25 years later, you can still buy Madden NFL games today.
And that just about does it here at A Moment In Tech, we hope you’ve enjoyed our many voyages back through time to unearth some long lost gems of technology. We’ve certainly had fun, here’s hoping you have too.