“You Will”

Fascinating discussion over at Prof Farber’s Interesting People list:  How accurate were those AT&T "You Will" ads  back in 1993?

Here’s what I can spot in these adverts:

On Line Books
Onboard Navigation Systems
Tablet PCs
Mobile Wireless Computing 
EZ Pass/Automated Tolls
Movie Ticket ATM purchases
Video Conferencing
Voice Recognition
Health Cards/Chip Implants
Video on Demand
On Line Education
Video Phones

The only thing the ads seemed to have really gotten wrong was that AT&T was NOT the company that brought it to us –instead, it was Apple, Cisco, Garmin, Microsoft, and others.

But AT&T? Not so much . . .


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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. yoshi commented on Aug 26

    its amazing what limited regulation and open standards does for innovation …

  2. Unscripted Thoughts commented on Aug 26

    You forgot big, honkin’ plasma screen TV so big it takes up half the wall.

  3. Marcus Aurelius commented on Aug 26

    “its amazing what limited regulation and open standards does for innovation …”


    On the technology front, yes. On the financial front, sometimes, not so much. Deregulation can have some nasty consequences.

    The big question to answer is, “is that a good thing, or a bad thing?”

  4. jm commented on Aug 26

    I did some consulting for Bell Labs around that time. At least in the building I visited, executives were segregated from the troops and middle managers in special suites guarded by several ranks of attack secretaries, such that they would never inadvertently come into contact with the unclean rabble of scientists and software developers surrounding them. This may have something to do with it.

  5. wally commented on Aug 26

    “But AT&T? Not so much . . .”

    Did AT&T really even try to develop such things, or did they just put out the ads to sell sizzle for steak they never planned to grill? Did they think those things would somehow ‘happen’ and they would be the magical beneficiary just because they were there and were big?

  6. david foster commented on Aug 26

    AT&T probably had people doing good R&D in many of these areas, but never figured out how to turn them into businesses. It’s not enough to have engineers and programmers and to let them work on “ideas”–you have to couple the R&D folks with talented salespeople and entrepreneurial leaders, and form them into teams that are empowered to just go for it.

  7. Rob Dawg commented on Aug 26

    “[ATT] executives were segregated from the troops and middle managers in special suites guarded by several ranks of attack secretaries”
    In the old days the attack secretaries were responsible for keeping the very few (minimum necessary) execs off the backs of the scientists. That’s what changed. They’d also do things like when squirt gun fights were threatening to damage equpment they’d suggest and supply rubber band guns instead. If a scientist needed two cases of masking tape from the supply cabinet they’d help carry them. More extensive requests were not met with “where’s your P.O.?” but rather “do you mean metric tonnes or english tons? And how do you spell plutotonium?”

    Kelly Johnson, R.I.P.

  8. tekel commented on Aug 26

    also missing: gratuitous violation of your fourth-amendment right to be free from illegal search and seizure at the hands of a criminally overzealous government. And complicity, or perhaps even conspiracy, in felony violation of FISA laws.

    Those particular innovations were definitely brought to you by AT&T.

  9. jake commented on Aug 26

    “or buy a ford or gm car made in asia….you will”

  10. Jim Bergsten commented on Aug 26

    I wonder (but am too lazy to research) how many of these ideas became AT&T Patents?

    I wonder how much licensing revenue (if any) AT&T receives from the “implementing” vendors?

    I wonder why I am sitting here typing this on a beautiful Sunday afternoon?

  11. tech-tester commented on Aug 26

    Ahh, yes. AT&T the dreamer, Xerox Park the incubator, and the rest is history.

  12. Grupa commented on Aug 27

    Non stop tolls were invented in 1988 and were implemented in some european countries even before they made this commercial :P

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