1985 BBC Special: A Change In The Weather
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to scoop up more home-recorded VHS stock at jumble sales in search of treasure… treasure like the following, which I happened across late last year.
I discovered this on the tail end of a home-recorded VHS tape of Dirty Harry; a 1985 BBC special titled ‘A Change in The Weather’, along with (top) an ad for Miami Vice, plus (tail) the next day’s broadcast schedule, station ID, anthem & close…. then a full minute of Neil Pye’s favourite song; ‘Ooooooooooooooooh’
This one-off special focuses on the cutting-edge technology used by the BBC in 1985 to collect, transmit, collate and interpret weather/forecast data, plus the growing use of computer technology to design and present regular forecast summaries to the public.
At 07:30, there is talk of a new computer that does “over 400 million calculations a second”. This is on par with the cutting edge of technology at the time. The Motorola 68020, a 32-bit microprocessor released in 1984, offered 4 MIPS at 20 MHz (4 MIPS = 4 million instructions per second). 10 years later, in 1994, they released the Motorola 68060 which could handle 88 MIPS at 66 MHz, but by then Intel had overtaken Motorola and were poised to dominate the commercial market for years to come (first Intel Pentium chip, also released in 1994: 188 MIPS at 100 MHz). A modern X-Box has a chip that can handle 19,200 MIPS at 3.2 GHz, the latest Intel chip can handle 177,730 MIPS at 3.33 GHz (more).
From 10:01 are added treats for anyone who works in graphic design.
Hubris Bonus: Two years after this television special aired, BBC meteorologist Michael Fish and the Met Office came under fire for failing to forecast the Great Storm of 1987 correctly (clip).