Dialling up a new way of life in 1986

Stress tips, oysters and buying your own star… Back in the 80s they had big plans for what the humble telephone was going to do for us all

‘Some thoughts on the phone,’ the Observer Magazine cover of 2 November 1986, with its nod to Rodin’s The Thinker, was not, in fact, a philosophical treatise on the nature of human communication but a guide to the many goods and services one could then buy over the phone.

The introduction began with one eye clearly on BT’s recent privatisation in 1984 – ‘Dial P for Privatisation, a nasty new phone book and commercially sponsored pips.’ It was also the beginning of BT’s speaking clock sponsored by Accurist, beloved of pranksters who would call its premium-rate line at friends’ homes and leave it to rack up costs. I’m saying nothing.

Continue reading…