A brief history of gadgets

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Not so long ago, most people did not possess a phone. Any phone. And remember when video recorders were a must-have? At a time of year when tech takes centre stage, take a trip down memory chip lane.

The season of goodwill is sandwiched, like it or not, by things: must-haves, latest crazes, always-wanteds, gadgets and treats and consumer goodies, first as gifts, then the sales.

Sorry for Go Figure's materialist turn, but it just happens that for 40 years, surveys have tracked Britain's saturation by consumer durables.

And even - maybe especially - with words like bankruptcy and debt in the air, it's worth reminding ourselves of a few material facts.

Like the two thirds of people in 1970 with no phone: no mobile - there weren't any - and no home phone either. You used a red box down the road, if it worked. In the next 20 years, phone ownership hit 90% and peaked at 95%....

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