HMS celebrated this milestone last week and it's not that far until Agent Triple P's or, indeed, Agent DVD's. Looking back, as an exemplar, to Playboy of October 1959 seems to confirm the fact that not much has changed; but then again... This particular issue does have some interesting things relevant to the life of HMS and what the life of HMS could have been like half a century ago (at least if he had lived in America)!
Cutting edge recording technology at the service of the classical repertoire
Fifty years ago now seems like another world. The definition of "young people", for Agent Triple P at least, really revovlves around the fact that the world as they remember it from childhood is really not that different from the way it is now. Whereas in fifty years we have gone through some major changes: the Cold War and its end, the Space Race and the Moon landings, the introduction of colour TV, the rise and fall of recorded sound media (vinyl records, music cassettes, eight track cartidges, CD, MP3), the revolution in home recording of TV and films (video cassettes, DVD, hard drive), increasing concern about the environment, attitudes to health regarding smoking, alcohol and diet, the shrinking of the world through jet airline travel and, above all, the effect of personal computing and the internet.
Some men really do enjoy talking about HiFi
Sometimes, people of Agent Triple P's age are disappointed with our experience of living in "the future". Where are all the gull-wing door electric cars that drive themselves? Where is the hypersonic airliner that can fly from London to Sydney in 90 minutes? Where are the hotels in orbit and on the Moon? Where are the household robots? Why aren't girls all wearing foil minskirts and purple wigs (actually you can find those if you look hard enough)? But then you look at what the computer on your desk can do at a few clicks of a mouse and then you realise that you are living in a science fiction future after all. But the future is less about hardware and more about software.
HMS has had his own two seater sports car in his time
Many things, however, haven't changed that much. Houses are still built to largely traditional designs; we don't all live in geodesic domes. Mens' suits are still largely as they were. Cars are more advanced, of course, but a 50 year old car is not that different as a mode of transport (four wheels, internal combustion engine, probably a manual gearbox still-at least in the UK) than a modern one.
Modern airliners do not look that different from the De Havilland Comet. The future has encrusted a lot of superficial detail on what would be quite familiar to those from 1959. No, it is really the information technology revolution that would be surprising to our half century ago forebears. Any 1950s or 1960s view of a computer (if they even had one) would involve a vast machine tended by dozens of technicians producing punch cards from tapes. Really the only Science Fiction representation that thought far enough ahead (in the mid sixties) was Star Trek whose voice controlled computers storing data on a small, plain tablet about half the size of a match box was truly imaginative.
A trendy fold-away kitchen for people who are short of space in their homes
So, cars, music, HiFi, cooking, cameras and red-heads. Perhaps not so different from today after all!