1. AT&T: Challenge of Change – This 1961 short film produced by AT&T does a pretty great job of capturing the suddenly-accelerating nature of technological development of the age and the frenzied attempts to harness that development into making life easier for everybody. In this specific case, though, it’s focused mostly on making business easier for businessmen. Slightly easier.
Most of the film is based around how business people need to stay in better, faster communication with each other and how new phones and phone call routing and data calls between machines are on the horizon. That’s all neat, and the film does a pretty good job of being very dramatic about it all, but the gems are in the phone design:
These seem like safe predictions nowadays, but I have to allow that they were pretty forward-thinking at the time. There are also a few misses – they accurately predict a pager but it’s the size of a remote control and emits a very loud and constant tone until it is answered. Perfect for an elegant business dinner. The other dinner guest is impressed, though, and steals the pager for himself. Then there’s videophone shopping which, again, is the right idea but the wrong execution.
Surrounding the product showcase is a bunch of trippy, atmospheric visual stuff and a lot of flowery talk. It actually works pretty well at what it’s trying to do, which is to convince you that the future is coming and it’s here already and that it’s all happening so fast. There are a few dry spots in this film but overall it’s pretty good. Plus it’s beautiful. Take a look.
2. Betamax “Show Time!” – Then there’s this 1983 video from Sony about their Betamax and other products, which is just cringe-worthy. For some reason, Charlie Hunnam is all I see when I look at this guy . Seriously, Sony paid for this to be created and was happy with it?
3. Flying Saucers For Everybody! – In 1954, Mechanix Illustrated predicted that everyone would be flying in their own saucers by 1965. The full scoop’s over at Modern Mechanix, but here’s the spoiler: Mechanix Illustrated was wrong. Here are some great illustrations.
I’m more jealous of this backyard than I am of the flying saucer.
4. Comet Warriors – These guys came late in the game for Eternia: He-Man‘s series had been cancelled but the toy line was still going strong. They showed up in She-Ra, briefly, and in a couple of comics, but were sort of unremarkable. Called the Rock People in the series and the comic, they were a peaceful race that eventually were forced to fight Hordak. I guess this made them Comet Warriors. Here are a couple of commercial for the toys.
5. Labatt Commercial – Who knew Labatt beer made you so fancy?