Tuesday 6 December 2016

1990: The past is a different country

Damian Corless

Published 07/06/2015 | 02:30

Phones in the 1990s
Phones in the 1990s
CD Player
Computer
M50
Aer Lingus
Guinness
Spock
Car sales

In that famous summer, Ireland was still mired in the economic slump that had blighted the entire 1980s

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1 Migration: In 1990 some 45,000 emigrated while 15,000 came to live in Ireland. At the tail-end of the boom in 2005 the numbers arriving peaked at 100,000 annually, dropping today to half that.

2 Housing. In 1990 the average price of a house was €60,000. In 1990 a new house cost 4.3 times the average industrial wage. At the peak of the Celtic Tiger that ratio shot up to 9:1 for the country as a whole and 12:1 for Dublin.

3 The Commute. In 1990 the ­average worker travelled under 8km to work. Today the mean journey for those in work has doubled to 16km.

4 Tourists. In 1990 the number of overseas visitors was around two million. In 2015 it is expected to touch on six million again.

5 Motoring. Sales of new cars in 1990 had flatlined at around 60,000 from 106,000 ten years earlier.

6 Compact Disc. Introduced in the mid-1980s, the Compact Disc was pushing vinyl to the brink of extinction. The top selling singles of the summer included Madonna's 'Vogue', 'Loveshack' by the B-52s and 'The Power' by Snap. Ireland's favourite albums featured Gloria Estefan's Cuts Both Ways, Mary Black's No Frontiers and The Essential Luciano Pavarotti, which topped the charts on the back of his rousing World Cup anthem 'Nessun Dorma (None Shall Sleep)'. Social commentator Eamonn McCann dismissed the current rage for house music, blasted out in clubs and warehouses, as "a long daze journey into night".

7 Computers. Personal and office computers were seldom seen. The clacking of the manual typewriter was the soundtrack of the typical office. However, the firm Plessy claimed to be making progress on a voice-activated electric typewriter which would make the skill of typing "redundant" by 2000.

8 The Internet. In 1990 the internet had yet to become the world wide web. Its use was mainly confined to data-sharing amongst academics. Few foresaw that within a decade, 394 million would rely on it as a primary resource, rising to over three billion today, or almost half of the world's population.

9 Mobile phones. In 1990 the mobile phone, despite efforts at downsizing, was still a big awkward brick. The battery life was precariously short, with the result that every phone spent far more time on the recharger than on the move. At the same time, just to be able to show off a phone on its charger was a score in the game of business one-upmanship .

10 The Media. Satellite TV gained ground in 1990 as Sky Channel and Super Channel competed with almost identical schedules built around the original Star Trek, Mister Ed, the talking horse, and pop videos. Sky's reinvention of football with The Premiership was still two years away.

11 Drinking up time. The two hour 'Holy Hour' was still in place, meaning that Ireland's pubs had to close each Sunday at lunchtime, or go for the 'lock-in' approach, which essentially locked the drinkers in and the authorities out.

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