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News 8 Throwback goes 'back to the future': A look at San Diego’s technology in 1981

Enjoy a trip back to a time before smartphones or Tik Tok with this News 8 Throwback.

SAN DIEGO — In 1981, News 8’s Jesse Macias presented a three-part series on “the future of technology” in San Diego. From computer programming classes at San Diego City College to advances in medical science, it’s eye-opening to see where tech was 40 years ago and where locals believed it was heading.  

There’s no saying where computers and technology may take us next in the areas of entertainment, education, business, medicine, and personal use, but it sure is interesting to see how far we have come! 

Enjoy a trip back to a time before smartphones or Tik Tok with this News 8 Throwback. The full series can be viewed above or as individual clips below. The wonders of technology! 

In part 1, Macias reported on the evolution of the computer from room-sized systems with vacuum tubes in the 1950s to what he called a “pocket computer” in 1981. He talked about how these technological advances were seen at banks and gas stations and were especially impacting the world of gaming with the entertainment of “Space Invaders” and education of toys like a “Speak and Spell.” Macias also visited San Diego City College where courses in “computer programming” were attracting an increased number of students.  

For the second part of the series, Macias looked at how computers were being used by businesses and homes in San Diego. Our reporter explained that the systems being used on computers were called “programs” and they were stored on “this plain-looking piece of plastic called a diskette.” People were seen taking classes to learn how to use computer systems which ran about $2,000.  

“With so many computers doing so much, are we becoming a society totally dependent on computers?” our forward-thinking reporter pondered.

For part 3, Macias looked at the impact of computers and technology in emergency medicine and hospitals. He visited University Hospital to see how they used computers to determine dosages of medications and process blood lab results. Doctors in the hospital’s nuclear science lab showed some of the tech products being used to diagnose and combat heart disease. They were treating a man using scintillation cameras to take images of his heart in order to determine the seriousness of his condition – a process that would have required a surgical procedure in the past.