The 1960s must have been a pretty exciting time to work in R&D at a telecommunications company like Bell Labs. Computers were still huge but becoming common in the workplace. By the end of the decade several communication satellites were in orbit and each day it was becoming easier and easier to transmit information across the globe. Combine this technology with the futurist ideas of the time and you get a lot of musings about how daily life could be transformed by personal communication and computer integration – a lot of which has borne itself out over the years.
In a lot of ways this film is a subset of that endeavor, but it does a good job at reflecting the larger idea – using computers to help us understand ourselves so that we can then help ourselves using computers.
The Incredible Machine is a snapshot of our 1968 efforts at developing computer graphics, synthesized music, computer-made movies, and digital input devices, all things which defined the decades that followed. Visually, there’s a lot to love here:
These are the guys who paved the way for me to become delighted when Alexa tells me the weather and frustrated when Siri seres me dubstep instead of folk. God bless you, gentlemen. Here’s the whole film.
1977 Atari 2600 Commercial
This holiday ad for the Atari 2600 system is pretty great; in this age of the decline of the department store it’s neat to see how central and relevant it is here.
Vincent Price and Peter Lorre together? Sign me up. Collector’s Item was a pilot that never went to series featuring Price as Prentiss, an appraiser of collectables and Lorre as Munsey, his associate.
The idea seems to be for the series to be a mystery/detective show themed around legendary artifacts and the seedier side of their tracking/acquisition/theft. It’s a promising idea, not sure why it didn’t get broadcast or picked up. Price and Lorre are great in this.
Here’s Nintendo’s attempt to capture that Tetris lightning in yet another bottle. Not as successful but just as ’90s!
Ten years later! Here’s Beijing from 1920. I think I liked 1910 better but still, beautiful.