Making the rounds on Twitter last weekend was this remarkable video, made by the Bell System in 1982 to promote their sponsorship of Spaceship Earth at the newly-opened EPCOT Center. The “Chronicle News Update” contains a chat with AT&T president William Ellinghaus, who presided over the pavilion’s opening ceremony, as well as Disney CEO Card Walker.
More importantly, it contains a look beyond the pavilion to AT&T’s other contributions to the park, which were found at FutureCom in CommuniCore West. Long-gone exhibits such as “The Amazing Microchip” and the “Network Map” are shown, as is the still-spectacular Information Fountain and the folk-art (and song!) that were part of the Age of Information show. It really does get across how funky CommuniCore was back in the day, and underscores the pleasant atmosphere that has been lost in years since.
Another nice treat for EPCOT history buffs is the footage of the WorldKey Information System kiosk that graced the bridge from Future World to World Showcase; this is one of the less-remembered WorldKey outposts so it’s good to have this video. I’m fascinated by the clip of the WorldKey system itself that they show during the film – it is not the WorldKey that I recall. The icons are far more primitive, and the voice is not “Bit” – the character who would later host the WorldKey presentations. Perhaps this is a prototype of the system? WorldKey was tested in various Walt Disney World locations in the years leading up to EPCOT’s opening, and I wonder if this isn’t one of those prototype implementations.
This video is one of several posted by the AT&T Archives; I highly recommend that you check out their YouTube channel for a number of remarkable films and videos from the last century. Some are quite amazing – and hilarious.