Review: Do you remember the 1950s? Len Goodman does

Posted Mar 31, 2012 by Alexander Baron
What was life like in the 1950s? This short TV series presented by dance man Len Goodman takes a stroll down memory lane, and will leave you wondering what you haven't missed.
LEO II computer
LEO II computer
J. Lyons & Company
Although this series focuses on Britain, many older people from outside the UK will find much here that looks familiar. The series is called The 1952 Show because as Goodman points out, 1952 was the start of a new Elizabethan era. This year, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth will have ruled over (and served us) for a staggering sixty years.
The series can currently be found on iplayer for those who can receive it. What was to be found in the fascinating archive footage shown in yesterday's programme?
Well, how about the typing pool? It seems incredible now that once, busy companies and government department had rooms full of young women - never men - who would sit all day in front of their typewriters typing letters and other documents in triplicate. Never heard of carbon paper? Well, it's blue stuff, and it rubs off on your fingers.
Nowadays, men, indeed most of the adult population can type, and the typing pool has long since gone. An interesting tidbit is that the first commercial computer in Britain was ordered, indeed built by, Lyons Tea Shops, a company that, alas, has long gone the same way as the typing pool.
The computer Lyons installed was enormous, filling a 5,000 square foot room including its power supply, it used to get very hot, and had to be air cooled. Nowadays, you have the same sort of power sitting on your desktop, or even in your pocket.
The man who built LEO said that at one time they applied for a grant to develop they idea but were rebuffed with an official letter that said the government didn't think there was a future in computers!
Finally, how's this for inflation? A ticket to see Liverpool FC play in the 2011/12 season will cost you from £29.50 to £48.00. In this programme, a gent recalled paying 9d on the turnstyle. At that time there were 12d in one shilling and 20 shillings to a £. Like the man said: “Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be”.