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Flashback Friday: Century 21 Calling

by Sean P. Aune | February 17, 2012February 17, 2012 9:45 pm PDT

Flashback FridayFor a film produced by Bell Systems, it’s amazing how they don’t get to the part about phones until the 4:50 mark in this video.

Filmed at the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, this short film from Bell Systems showed off some of what the company thought “Century 21 calling” would be like.  (Why they didn’t say ’21st Century’ is totally beyond us)  As looks at future tech go, this one was so off base it was amazing.  If they had called it “1970’s Calling” it would have been pretty spot on, but pegging it for nearly 40 years in the future, man were they ever off.

My favorite part has to be the “Bell Boy,” which just goes to show that silly names have been attached to products for ages.  We’ll ignore the fact it’s a pager the size of a brick, and just bask in the warm glow of imagining signs in stores of a bell boy from a hotel telling you about all of the ways this device could change your life.

The automatic dialer is also a sight to behold.  “Just listen for dialtone, insert a number card and press the start bar.”  Supposedly this was faster than dialing on your own, but imagine going through a pile of number cards if you were a business to find the right one.  I have no clue if this technology ever made it out of the labs, but we can certainly hope it didn’t.

As I always say, these looks at “future technology” are always amusing, but just remember that in 50 years someone will look back at our predictions of today and have a good laugh as well.


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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