From terrifying brakes to laser beams: how far car tech has come

It's scary just how bad cars used to be

Car tech

If you can remember being in a car in the 1970s, you'll probably recall it was a clunky, uncomfortable set of wheels, loosely bolted together to help you get from one spot to another - and that's it. It was also the final decade before the 'techification' of cars really took off.

Up until then, cars had been pretty much pure analogue devices, with one bit telling another to make fire to force the whole thing to go. Then the gadgetry began in the 1980s as electronic control units became commonplace, albeit largely restricted to engine ignition management.

In the 90s, cars with computer-controlled and networked components that spoke to each other internally began to appear. But all of that is as nothing compared to the veritable explosion of digital automotive wizardry in the last decade or so.

Today's cars are cloud-connected, semi-autonomous road-going robots packed with touchscreens, sensors and laser beam headlights that can phone home, park themselves and even auto-tweet as you drive along.

Don't believe us that things have changed that much? OK - let's compare...

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