Quiz Of The Week: British Tech In The Thatcher Years

margaret thatcher phone

Britain changed forever in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher. How well do you know 1980s technology?

Baroness Thatcher presided over Britain at a time when technology started to change the face of the country. This week’s quiz looks at British IT in the 1980s.

During the 1980s, first mobile phones arrived, along with personal computers. British tech firms grew and died – and some of the most cutting edge technologies we have were actually born in those years.

Margaret thatcher © Shutterstock David Fowler

Acceptable in the 80s

We don’t credit Margaret Thatcher with inventing these technologies (though our quiz will let you find out one breakthrough she may have had a hand in creating).

In fact, it’s instructive to see how much of the tech industry during her years in power was state-supported. Inventive silicon firms, for instance, got government money, and the BBC backed the popular BBC Micro home computer.

The gradual decline of Britain’s only home-grown mainframe computer maker during the 1980s, however, was definitely the result of a Thatcherite policy, when compared with state support for rivals such as Bull in France.

The privatisation of British Telecom was also a flagship policy of Thatcherism.  Nearly 30 years on, advocates still argue whether the private company has delivered networks faster than a state-run monopoly could have done.

The 1980s also saw triumphs and disasters for Britain’s two most iconic tech entrepreneurs: Sir Clive Sinclair, famed for the ZX81 and Spectrum, and Alan Sugar of Amstrad, now best known as the grumpy hedgehog-faced boss in The Apprentice.

So how much do you know about British IT in the 80s?

Take our quiz!

And if you like it, try some of the others.

Apology: Early readers may have spotted an error in question 10, about mobile networks. This is now fixed. Do let us know of any other slip-ups.

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