Friday, 5 December 2008

First motorway and trunk dialling 50 years old

As the years roll by it is all too easy to forget the speed at which changes have taken place in the UK particularly as regards communication, in both the transport and telephony senses. This was really brought home to me listening to the 'Today' programme on Radio4 this morning because exactly 50 years ago the Queen calling from Bristol was the first person to use the subscriber trunk dialling system or STD as it was then known. This technology enabled long distance phone calls to be made without going through the operator. Wow! In this case, recorded and filmed for posterity, the Queen spoke to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh - I think he was rather expecting the call! There was some lovely black and white footage on the BBC news website and the Queen of course was holding what by today's standards was a big heavy phone. I remember them! Of course it was quite some time before this facility was available for those living in Salcombe, my home town.

Coincidentally the six o'clock news this evening reminded us that it was fifty years ago that Britain's first motorway was opened - the Preston ByPass. I wonder how many folk are under the illusion that it was the M1 that was finished first; this would be a good question for a pub quiz. Again some black and white footage shown, how motoring has changed, cars without seat belts, airbags or side impact bars - how did we ever survive those years.

I have to say that I was quite taken back that two such significant events had happened at the same time, something I was totally unaware of. They say you learn something new every day!

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