Bunn, Wackett, Buzzard, Stubble and Boot

This is something of an anachronism - a record player with LEDs. It's actually Bang & Olufsen's 'Beocenter 7700', part of the early-80s pseudo-craze for total home automation. It had an infra-red remote control, and you could fit lots of extra speakers and dot them around the house for those moments when you had developed the telekinetic powers required to change an LP from a distance. Magazines were filled with neat ideas about how you could wire your home computer to the lights, doors and curtains, and program them to switch on, open and draw at certain times in the day, or at the touch of a button (Terry Gilliam's Brazil parodies this, although Heath-Robinson-style home gadgets had been around since, well, Heath-Robinson). The idea of home automation was seductive and still sounds very clever, but it didn't catch on because nobody could be bothered. As for the Beocenter 7700, I have no doubt that it was a top-quality piece of kit.

Like 'Wankel Rotary Engine' and 'Pocari Sweat', 'Bang & Olufsen' is a comedic name in the UK. That's because the word 'bang' is onomatopia for the sound of an explosion, and also for having violent sex. Yes.

William Heath-Robinson is one of those people who, like Jesus and Nietzsche and Wagner, has a famous name but is completely unknown at the same time. People use his name to describe unusual gadgets, although nobody knows quite why. "Was Heath-Robinson a person?", they ask, "or a company? Did they make things? is it just a strange technical term?".

By the early-80s manufacturers had settled on vertically-orientated music centres, and instead of being called 'music centres' they were called 'hi-fis'. Sometimes with 'Mini' or 'Midi' appended to the beginning.

(c) Ashley Pomeroy 2001