AT&T has been under scrutiny lately, in relation to how it stores phone metadata, and where it ends up. However, if you long for the more innocent days, AT&T’s Tech Channel has been adding vintage instructional clips to its archive. The YouTube channel also contains some pretty trippy gems.
This clip from 1929, titled “Her Right Place,” shows the tough choices women faced when looking for a career. Muriel, our protagonist, trains to be a telephone operator within the Bell System, which was “one of the few respectable career choices for young women working outside the home.” She works her way all the way up to chief operator!
Here’s footage from 1989 about “SAM,” a robot created for Bell Laboratories. It can recognize more than 6 trillion different phrases, which, according to the clip, proves that robots can “be used by people with no special training.”
This 14-minute short, called “Century 21 Calling,” provides footage of the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle and the futurecasting that took place in the Bell Systems Pavilion. Long-distance dialing, pagers, and remote networking are mentioned, though there’s no direct mention of what might become the Internet. The jazzy “Century 21” theme song at the end is pretty good though.
And here’s a clip about an early tablet and touchscreen prototype, created by Bob Boie. In 1990, it was used to send the first live drawing overseas, via computer art pioneer Lillian Schwartz, who’s also featured in the clip.
If you want to lose two or three hours of your day, take a stroll through the whole archive.
Screengrab via AT&T Tech Channel