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Entries in computers (50)


Pacific Bell Concept Video (1991)


Pacific Bell Concept Video (Part 3, 1991)

The third and final chapter of our untitled 1991 Pacific Bell concept video introduces us to the public videophones of the future, similar to those we saw in AT&T's Connections video from 1993.

See also:
Pacific Bell Concept Video (Part 1, 1991)
Pacific Bell Concept Video (Part 2, 1991)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 4, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (1993)


Pacific Bell Concept Video (Part 2, 1991)

Part 2 of this unnamed Pacific Bell concept video has a visual voicemail feature (or in this case, audible voicemail) that iPhone users may find familiar.

See also:
Pacific Bell Concept Video (Part 1, 1991)


Pacific Bell Concept Video (Part 1, 1991)

This unnamed Pacific Bell concept video from 1991 is set in the year 2003. With a young woman giving birth as our main plot device, we're able to see how people of the 21st century will work, shop and communicate. Below is part 1 of 3.

See also:
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (1993)
Flowers by Alice (1992)
Apple's Knowledge Navigator (1987)
Apple's Grey Flannel Navigator (1988)
Vision (Clip 1, 1993)
Vision (Clip 2, 1993)
Vision (Clip 3, 1993)
Starfire (1994)
GTE's Classroom of the Future (1987)


Paleo-Future in the Wall Street Journal

If you read today's Wall Street Journal you may have seen a piece by Lee Gomes, which mentions the Paleo-Future blog.

Another way to follow evolving social attitudes about computers is through the "concept videos" made by computer companies. Analogous to Detroit's concept cars, these videos are designed to show a company's visionary idea about what computers might be one day, without obliging it to actually build them.

The best place to look at these videos is at PaleoFuture (, which allows an amazing look back at visions of the future, starting back in the 1880s. The exhibit is curated with great wit by 24-year-old Matt Novak of Minneapolis. Most of these retrofutures are full of optimistic technology, like what you'd see at a World's Fair or Disneyland's World of Tomorrow.

Computer-company concept videos tend to be set in the immediate future, a happy time of well-dressed people who spend their days either running small businesses or preparing sales reports. PaleoFuture has two videos from the early 1990s, one from Sun Microsystems and the other from AT&T, telling us about life in 2004.

These videos avoid the silliness of similar efforts from the 1960s, such as the 1967 movie from Philco-Ford showing moms in 1999 pushing a button to make dinner. Still, they manage to blur easy engineering problems with very hard ones, which results in their being off by miles in some of their predictions. In most of these videos, for example, the computer understands casual spoken English well enough to be able to act as an ever-alert concierge, dialing up business associates on the phone and yanking reports on demand from its memory, then cheerfully saying something back to their owner after finishing a task.

Mr. Novak says that since then, the computer industry seems to have gotten smarter about how dumb computers can be and what they're really good for. "Computers of the future were to be artificial humans," he says. "At some point, we realized that we didn't care to talk with machines. We wanted to communicate with humans more efficiently."

See also:
Article for MungBeing
Sincerity and the Paleo-Future
Postmodern Paleo-Future


Start 'em Young (1991)

I have three questions about this picture:

1. Why did we believe paper faxes were the future?

2. Does that toddler have Wi-Fi?

3. Why does the teddy bear have a phone?

This illustration by Tom Chalkley ran in the November-December, 1991 issue of The Futurist magazine.

See also:
Apple's Grey Flannel Navigator (1988)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (1993)
Starfire (Part 3, 1994)
Online Shopping (1967)


Starfire (1994)

Today we have the 1994 Sun Microsystems concept video Starfire in its entirety. You can still access individual clips of the program from the links below or you can download the video here.

See also:
Starfire (Part 1, 1994)
Starfire (Part 2, 1994)
Starfire (Part 3, 1994)
Starfire (Part 4, 1994)
Starfire (Part 5, 1994)
Starfire (Part 6, 1994)
Starfire (Part 7, 1994)
Starfire (Part 8, 1994)

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