BT Technology Journal - Archive

Commemorating 25 years of publication

 The world in 1983

Twenty five years seems like a relatively short space of time however, as far as technology is concerned the world was indeed a very different place in 1983. The IBM PC had appeared on the scene in 1981 to challenge the likes of the Commodore PET and the Apple II and the personal computer revolution was getting under way. 1983 saw Microsoft announce the first version of Windows, and the first version of Word, then known as Multi-Tool Word, was put on sale. Mobile telephones were starting to appear, but with a price tag in the region of $4000 - and with similarly large size and weight and with limited coverage, these were strictly for the enthusiast. Elsewhere, in an apparently innocuous change, TCP/IP protocols replaced the Network Control Program (NCP) as the principal protocol of the ARPANET, and the ARPANET took another step towards becoming the Internet as we know it today. With regard to BT, the first all-digital System-X telephone exchange had been brought into service in 1980 and by 1983 the transformation of the UK network from analogue to digital was well under way, though it was 1990 before the last analogue exchange based on the old electromechanical Strowger system was finally shut down. Not surprisingly the penetration of dual tone multi-frequency (DTMF) telephones was still quite limited, with the older loop disconnect instruments still dominant in the UK and Europe. The process of privatising BT was well in hand, having been started with the British Telecommunications Act in 1981, and a subsequent announcement in 1982 that the Government intended to privatise BT. This culminated in the sale of 50.2% of the shares in BT and trading in BT shares on the London Stock Exchange began on December 3, 1984. And, of course, 1983 saw the publication of the very first edition of the BT Technology Journal…..