It's the unspoken rule in the world of technology; sex innovates. For generations, the urge to create, disseminate and watch pornography has driven many of the great technological advances we now take for granted.
Super 8 projectors
The Super 8 projector rose to popularity due in part to the large amount of pornographic content which was quickly available for it. The Super 8 camera was a favourite for fraternity house 'home movies' although it was a drawback that the film had to be developed. Released in 1965 by Kodak the film came in plastic cartridges containing plenty of potential on their 50 feet of film. But the projector, a temperamental contraption, would sometimes disappoint anxious viewers by refusing to work.
A need for instant satisfaction prompted the invention of the Polaroid camera. You get to take delightfully rude images of your nearest and dearest in the comfort of your own home and you don't have to wait weeks before you can reap the benefits. Despite the frantic hand flapping that comes with developing a Polaroid negative, you get to see the result in less than a minute. Plus, you get to avoid the embarrassing trip to SnappySnaps to see the disapproving shop assistant.
Voice over Internet Protocol was developed to feed the porn market after frustrated internet users bemoaned the lack of 'dirty talk' online. VoIP basically allows you to use internet-based sex phone lines (a bit like Skype, but filthier) and allows you to view whatever you like while you chat. What could be simpler? And, you don't even need to hold a phone to your ear as you can use an ear piece or web cam Mic to speak to your 'date'.
The war of video formats began in 1975 when Sony launched the Betamax system, closely followed in 1976 by JVC's VHS. Despite the technical superiority of the Betamax system, VHS won the battle for customers as it was easier for amateur pornographers to produce their own content with VHS, and porn was readily available in the VHS format. Although porn helped VHS to dominate over Betamax, the relationship was reciprocal, with VHS offering the pornography industry a system of distribution which allowed it insinuate itself into the mainstream. The rival Betamax tapes were not long enough to record a film, at only 60 minutes, and adult content was not available on Betamax.
The DVD player has not only increased the availability of pornography beyond VHS, but allowed it to be viewed in a more accessible format. Fans of risqué films could quickly flick to their favoured scenes or pause to view particularly agreeable moments in high definition. The advent of the DVD player has seen history repeating itself, with the VHS vs. Betamax war being channelled into the fight between HD-DVD and Sony's Blu-ray. Sony appear to be suffering due to the company's continued reluctance in supporting the adult films, with Blu-ray not releasing its first adult film until 2007.
For many, the internet is synonymous with pornography. While statistics on usage are difficult to come across given the shady legal status of the industry, 2007 estimates claimed that the industry was worth $2.84 billion a year, with 89 per cent of pornography produced in the US. It's difficult to ascertain precisely how much of an influence salacious material had on the rise of the World Wide Web, but it's generally acknowledged that which such a sizeable chunk of internet traffic dedicated to the transmission and reception of pornography we may not have seen the 100 per cent year on year growth of the internet witnessed from the mid-nineties to the early noughties.
Pay-per-view cable or satellite
The pay per view format on satellite and cable helped pornography to thrust itself into the mainstream. Instead of videos only being available to those brave enough to rent racy material face to face, one could order porn from the TV at home, or through premium services within hotels. The ubiquity of pornography available in the home led to Jacqui Smith's husband recently getting in trouble for billing the taxpayer for two porn films he bought on pay per view, via his wife's expenses.
Have you seen that little red button your TV remote? Well, the interactivity that button supplies you with for mainstream news and satellite sports channels was reportedly developed for the porn industry. It was intended to allow users to home in on the most er interesting actors/actresses/activities available. Apparently the TV remote control element means you can bypasses the embarrassment of having sign up and pay-to-view via a call centre.
The video phone
Not only have video phones allowed for customers to view downloaded pornography whenever and wherever they choose, they have also given the public a constant instrument to film with, allowing amateurs to immortalise their tawdry dalliances without the hassle of any forward planning. This benefit has been particularly embraced by teenagers, and has allowed peers to share amorous moments with one another electronically, leading to the 'sexting' craze, which has been reported in Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK.
Electrical outlets in the 1990s saw sales boosted by the libidos of people wanting to make their own adult movies using snappy little camcorders - a far cry from the hefty film cameras of old. With Women's magazines lambasting the home made blue movie as a way to spice up a long term romance, young and old began to get a bit creative. Just don't forget which tape is and record Coronation Street over it.