I happened to come across this 1984 brochure picture of a Rover SD being tested and was struck by how most of the instrumentation had to be kept in that Range Rover that’s following the car, connected by that orange coiled umbilical cable and what looks like some kind of guide/tensioning wire. Imagine driving either of these rigs! You’d have to stay so close and the Range Rover would need to mirror the lead car’s actions pretty carefully despite being very different dynamically – this had to be really difficult. I wonder how often they had to stop because the cables got disconnected.
Plus, this is 1984, when a significant amount of miniaturization had already been going on; this was the first big home computer boom era, after all, and that Rover could have been filled with many, many 48K Sinclair Spectrums (it is British, after all) that could have handled at least some of the computation duties, right? I have no idea just what was being recorded or tested or tabulated here, but I’m very curious about what and how.
Look at all the equipment in this 1978 Rabbit from a NHTSA crash test! It’s absolutely filled with humming boxes and shelves and wires, and then look at those snakes of cables winding their way out of the car to even more equipment! Chances are your phone has more computing power than this whole car and whatever it’s connected to, and all those cables could be replaced with invisible radio waves from a Bluetooth or wifi transceiver.
Anyway, worth remembering, and being happy about the ensmallification of things.