7 technologies to thank the 1970s for

A decade of big hair, tiny clothes and impressive technology

4. The first word processor

This one may well take you by surprise. The first word processor was the Wang 1200 launched in 1971 by An Wang's company, Wang Laboratories.

Designed by Harold Koplow, the Wang 1200 had only four operational modes: record, play, transfer and edit. It was not very powerful and had some persistent issues but it did provide IBM with some much needed competition and made typing documents a thousand times easier than it was before.

Certainly, creatives and typists danced with glee as these became increasingly easier to use than ye olde typewriter.

Harold koplow

WORD UP: "Almost from the beginning I wanted to use microprocessors, one in each device," says Koplow on his site [Image credit: Harold Koplow]

5. Email

Yes, the bane of our modern lives came about as a result of work done by a man known as Ray Tomlinson in 1971. He says on his site, "I sent the first network email in 1971 using a program I wrote called SNDMSG."

While we all would imagine that he can remember exactly what he wrote in that groundbreaking email and what he felt like when he sent it, he's quite open about the fact that he just did it because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Outlook 2010

YOU'VE GOT MAIL: And you would have had mail in 1971, too, if you were Ray Tomlinson

6. The first digital camera

The first working prototype of a digital camera was completed in 1975 by Steven Sasson for Kodak.

It weighed in at eight pounds, captured black and white images on a cassette tape, had a resolution of .01 megapixels and was not exactly the handiest of gadgets to cart about.

It counts as the first ever digital camera although it never went into production and it would be some time before Kodak released its first digital camera commercially.

First digital camera

POINT AND SHOOT: The first digital camera was hardly a neat little thing you could pop into your handbag [Image credit: Burnick/Kodak]

7. The pocket calculator

While it certainly doesn't seem like an enormous invention to us in the 2000s, it was something of a revelation back in the 1970s when the first pocket calculators arrived.

The Sanyo ICC-0081, launched in Japan, was the first of these but it was soon followed by stiff competition from the likes of Canon, Sharp and Texas Instruments.

Initially very expensive they soon became affordable enough for everyone to own and were a welcome relief from their predecessors that were clunky and difficult to use.

Adler 81s

NUMBER CRUNCHER: Launched in the mid 1970s, the Adler 81S weighed 128g without batteries and had a VFD display [Image credit: NJR ZA]

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Liked this? Then check out 5 technologies to thank the 1950s for

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