What where you doing 25 years ago? 1989 was a historic and turbulent year: it saw the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, the protests in Tiananmen Square, and the last days of apartheid in South Africa. It was also the year that a small company called Printware embarked on a journey which would re-define the office printer market.
The world was a very different place back in 1989 and one of the things that’s changed significantly is technology. Mobile phones wouldn’t become commonplace for another decade and the iPhone was still 18 years away. If you were one of the few people who could afford a mobile phone back then, you might have owned something like the Motorola MicroTAC 9800X which cost around $3,000.
Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989; technology that we take for granted now but was only accessible to a select few back then. The invention of the World Wide Web would revolutionise the internet and transform the world forever but it’s safe to say that, in 1989, it was many years away from realising its full potential.
Mobile gaming was also about to take off, with the introduction of the Nintendo Game Boy and the popularity of iconic games like Super Mario Land and Tetris. Desktop computing systems released in 1989 include the Acorn Archimedes A3000, Macintosh Portable and Amiga 2500. Intel also released its 80486 processor with an impressive clock speed of 33MHz.
In a year of notable firsts, HP introduced the LaserJet IIP, which was billed as the first ‘personal’ laserjet printer. Released in September 1989, the LaserJet IIP had a print speed of 4 pages per minute and a price tag of $1,495 (although it’s actual retail price was considerably less, making it the world’s first laser printer for under $1,000).
If you were old enough to drive in 1989, there’s a good chance that you were driving a Ford Escort – the UK’s top-selling car for the eighth year running.
Cassette tape was the biggest-selling music format in 1989, although vinyl was still popular and CDs were on the rise. Sony’s Discman had been around since 1984 but, if you wanted to listen to music on the go, you probably had a Walkman. Watching films at home meant watching a VHS cassette, unless you were one of the very few who still owned a Betamax video player at that point.
Talking of films, the top grossing movie of the year was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, followed by Tim Burton’s Batman and Back to the Future Part II. Meanwhile, in the music charts, Black Box’s Ride on Time was the top selling UK single and Jason Donovan’s Ten Good Reasons was the number one album.
Iconic TV shows The Simpsons, Seinfeld and Baywatch all debuted in 1989. Alongside these American classics (using the term very loosely for Baywatch) were equally memorable British shows, such as Only Fools and Horses and Blackadder Goes Forth.
Many rugby fans will remember when the Six Nations was still the Five Nations, and French fans, in particular, will look back fondly on the 1989 season. The Championship was decided on the last day as England were denied the Grand Slam in Cardiff, handing the title to France. French motorsport fans also had cause to celebrate as Alain Prost won the Formula 1 World Championship, driving for McLaren.
The mid- 80s to mid- 90s was a prolific period for German tennis as Boris Becker and Steffi Graf won ten Wimbledon titles between them. 1989 was the peak of this success, as Becker won his third and last Wimbledon title and Graf won her second to make it a clean sweep for Germany in the singles tournament.
Then and Now
Looking back, it’s hard to believe how much the world has changed since 1989. Who, back then, could imagine what the world would be like in 2014?
Despite all the changes, some familiar faces still remain. Ford still makes the best-selling car in the UK, HP is still the world’s largest printer manufacturer and Apple still sells computers (although it’s better known for phones and tablets these days).
Printware is still here, of course, and, like Apple, is a very different company from the one that existed 25 years ago. Our core business model, founded on providing outstanding service and value, still remains, even though the company has evolved and grown.
No-one knows what the next 25 years will bring but we’re prepared for the challenges, always ready to adapt and always ready for new ideas.
by Anthony Morgan