In 1962, the first instalment of a global movie franchise was born with the screening of Ian Fleming’s Dr. No starring Sean Connery as James Bond. Fifty years on, the 23rd Bond movie, Skyfall, has been released*. Synonymous with Bond movies are the super arch villain’s hell bent on world domination and ever since Ursula Andress’ bikini-clad Honey Ryder appeared mirage-like from the sea in Dr. No, each movie has had its fair share of beautiful Bond girls too. Bond movies are also distinguishable through their devotion to technology and innovation.
In many ways the Bond movies have been pioneers of technology and have helped make the world embrace and adopt technology quicker than it possibly would have otherwise. The movies have mirrored the onset of the computer age over the last 50 years; huge archaic computers that can only add and subtract were replaced by pocket-sized handheld devices, like his mobile phone that had the ability to control a car.
In the early 1960’s the IT industry to all intents and purposes didn’t exist in most people’s minds. Personal computers were over two decades away, programming was only taking off as a concept with the development of languages such as Fortran and Cobol, and operating systems like UNIX were probably only in the embryonic stages in AT&T employees’ minds by that stage. The following 50 years has seen the IT industry expand beyond Intel co-founder Gordon Moore’s bold assertion of 1965 that the semiconductor industry would double every two years (Moore’s Law). This did not just happen to the semiconductor industry but for the whole of the IT industry as well. Over the past 50 years computers and laptops have become commonplace in most homes, not just in military labs. Although just 21 years old, the World Wide Web is now a significant part of everyday life, just like mobile phones and other IT devices. The pace of growth in the IT industry has been staggering, somewhat frightening.
The Bond movies have always demonstrated a devotion to technology not seen in most other films. James Bond and his, sometimes grumpy, assistant Q would regularly use gadgets and innovations to help Bond survive and defeat his foes. As time has passed and the Bond movies have evolved, so too has the use of technology in the movies. Some would say the Pierce Brosnan Bond movies were too reliant on gadgets and technology, that it was more show over substance. This arguably led to a change of tact by the producers and a more’ ‘back to basics’ look for Daniel Craig’s first Bond film, Casino Royale. It could be contended that the Brosnan films were a reflection of the dot-com bubble of the 1990s, technology for show with little business benefit, leading to its inevitable implosion in 2000.
As a person who started recruiting IT professionals in the 1990’s, I remember the dot-come craze clearly, the internet companies like Boo.com who were ridiculously valued yet were destined not to make a dime. I have also seen healthy cleansing that has happened with the IT industry since then. IT departments have become central to organisations, and technology is now the ultimate enabler in driving businesses forward. Companies now accept that technology can make the difference between success and failure, cutting costs and improving capability. This was something that even the most optimistic individual would not have believed possible 50 years ago when Bond first hit our screens.
I have also seen the healthy cleansing that has happened with the IT industry since then, IT departments becoming central to organisations, and technology being the ultimate enabler in driving businesses forward. Companies now accept that technology can make the difference between success and failure, cutting costs and improving capability, something the most optimistic individual would not have believed possible fifty years ago when Bond first hit our screens. James Bond can take some of the credit in allowing this to happen, bringing technology to our homes and demonstrating that innovation can get us out of sticky situations and help us to defeat our competitors. This can also be seen by the massive increase in IT jobs in the market over the last couple of decades, a reflection of peoples’ interest in technology.
* 25th if you include the 1963 spoof Casino Royale, Thunderball and Never Say Never Again.