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A Blog on Understanding, Informing, Empowering, and Influencing Global Publics, published by Matt Armstrong

Challenge of Change – 1961 Bell Labs film on communication

Looking into the future from the past is often fascinating. A Bell Labs film from 1961 on the changing communication environment predicts the future information age as it projects its technology into the future. This includes machine to machine communication, online ordering, e-commerce, and cellular phones, is no different. The underlying purpose is preparing the audience for change.

AT&T provides a setup for the film from their archives, including:

This film breaks into approximately two parts — part I: the problems of the present, and part II: the way those problems could be solved by the technology of the future. This film not only serves as almost the birth of the information age, it also projects that technology far into the future.

The commercial products that would allow this connected, computer-communicating network? They’re basic, but at the time seemed radical:

* The wireless Bellboy Pager, which was introduced commercially in 1962
* The Data-phone, which was supposed to revolutionize business communications
* The videophone—shown as a credit-card-reading vertical two-way television
* The card-reading phone or automatic dialer, which would dial a number from small plastic punch cards, introduced in 1961
* Oh, and package delivery via rocket (which had just been tested in 1959).

Some quotes from the film:

“For where change once moved as an hour hand on a clock, now it rockets at a speed the mind’s eye can hardly follow.”

“This world now grown so small in time and distance, grows larger in challenge and opportunity.”

“We must speed up our recognition of change.”

“Change jostles change.”

(H/T CTOVision)

Category: ICT
  • john brown says:

    Matt — I would still prefer a pleasant real-world dinner with a friend, with a bottle of wine if she allows. best, john

    May 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm

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