Their first appearance was on the soundtrack to Savage Steve Holland's first feature film "Better Off Dead". Thinkman was conceived about a year before as a 'front' for producer Hine following his three A&M solo albums in the first half of the 1980s. The three other band members that appeared with Hine both on their videos and limited live performances were actors. They were- Greg Crutwell (playing drummer Joe McArthur), Andy Baker (bassist Andy Paris), and Julian Clary (keyboardist Leo Hurll). Julian Clary confirms this in his autobiography- "A young man's passage".
Hine and his collaborator, Jeannette-Thérese Obstoj, had originally planned a feature film that coincided with Hine's signing to Island Records. In the original script there were some 40 Thinkman in total, and their role was that of media terrorists. Reportedly the budget spiralled and it was felt prudent to put the movie on hold and start by releasing the 'soundtrack' first. The album was called The Formula and it became one of Hine's best-sellers. Whilst the actors made no appearance on the album, Jamie West-Oram from The Fixx and Stewart Copeland from The Police did. Guest vocals on the title track from one of Hine's favorite artists at the time, Lisa Dalbello, from Canada.
The second album, Life is a Full-Time Occupation, was released two years later. Accompanied by the same actors for both visuals and promotion, the album was a hybrid between the mood of The Formula and a 'dance' energy arrangement. The lyrical content was also split between the 'media-terrorist' songs and something altogether lighter.
The third and final album, Hard Hat Zone, took several further steps away from the origins of the band and became effectively a Rupert Hine solo album. Though one video was made with the same cast, the 'look' no longer worked. Lyrically, the songs were mostly reflective of environmental issues from the title track's reference to the state of the planet to an ode to the plight of the whales entitled "November Whale".