So, we haven’t got hoverboards, self-lacing trainers and so on – the 2015 envisaged in Back To The Future 2 did get a few things right though, such as Marty getting fired by what looks like an early version of Skype that would have seemed fanciful in 1985.
We took a look at some of the changes that have affected our spending habits since 1985, that we couldn’t have imagined back then.
- “You mean I can see any information, anywhere, on that computer screen?” This was pretty much how I reacted when I first accessed the web. The idea of the internet wasn’t even imaginable for consumers in 1985, yet now we can order our shopping to be delivered, and buy anything from rare records to fancy dress, washing machines to holidays, at the click of a button online. We can also use the internet to compare items for price, and use voucher codes to save money when we can.
- Back in 1985 a large part of the world that we now take for granted we can visit, was more or less inaccessible. Europe’s ‘Iron Curtain’ was still in place, so it would have been impossible to imagine low cost flights to spend the weekend in Prague, Budapest or Tallinn, and the European Union hadn’t yet allowed free movement. In fact, the low cost operators we now use regularly weren’t around until the industry was deregulated in the mid-1990s, so flying was much more of an exclusive club back then.
- Buying a house however is much more of a challenge than it was thirty years ago. Back then the average salary needed to buy a house was under £10k and you needed a deposit of 5%, borrowing 2 x salary. Now it’s over £37k, with an average deposit of 25% and an average borrowing rate of over 3.4 x salary.
- The number of choices we have when we eat out, whether we live in a city or a village, is far greater than our 1985 equivalents could have imagined. Cuisines from all over the world, pubs that serve up fantastic local produce – it’s a far cry from the cheap burger joints and steakhouses of the 80s.
- As a youngster in the mid-80s, I remember having to ask my parents if I could make a phone call. If it was to someone I fancied, I’d agonise over having to speak to her mum or dad as invariably they’d answer the phone first. Phone calls eventually became emails, they then became text messages, then social media – and now we have so many different ways to communicate with each other, with the cost gradually coming down with every new technical advance – though the more you use, the more you’ll obviously have to pay.
- Cash was very much the dominant form of payment in 1985, and when we went abroad we generally used traveller’s cheques. Nowadays, in addition to long-established credit and debit cards we have contactless payments, online payments, travelling by transport with cards with tiny microchips, and more.
- In 1985 the CD came of age with the release of Dire Straits’ “Brothers In Arms”, the first album to sell a million copies on CD and to outsell its LP version. Yet fast forward to 2015 and CDs are already virtually obsolete thanks to online formats such as MP3s that we can download much cheaper and more conveniently. Ironically, the very thing that CDs were supposed to replace – vinyl – has not only survived but arguably thrived, as a premium and limited edition format.
Now as for 2045, what could that bring? Paying for goods via under-skin microchips? Using our brain to send text messages? The mind boggles…..