#OnThisDay 1973: “The entire cycle, from meter reading to final account, without the intervention of a single human” Michael Rodd cosplayed as some sort of Matrix meter reader, on Tomorrow’s World. pic.twitter.com/vkwxeMaJn1
— BBC Archive (@BBCArchive) March 7, 2019
46 years on since this quirky piece from Tomorrow’s World,12 million or so first generation smart meters are installed. Second generation meters are supposed to be ubiquitous by the end of 2020. But by January of this year, just 250,000 had been installed. The £11bn project is running years late and at least £500m over budget. It seems unlikely this target will be met. The “and then a miracle happens” graphs in this House of Commons Library article bears this pessimistic view out.
The forty pence per year to read each meter in 1973 is around £4.80 in today’s money. Assuming that there are 48 million domestic meters, the programme will cost at least £240 per meter. Break-even in 50 years – if meters were still read 1973-style and they were capable of lasting anything like that long. But at least you won’t find Michael Rodd rummaging through your cupboards.
Note: For the computer history geeks, the ‘small computer’ shown in the clip is a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8.