At AT&T, envisioning the future in 1993 was nothing new. The company had made films projecting the future as far back as the 1960s. That impetus back then came from the confluence of the world entering the space age and the computer age at the same time.
The next real wave of future predictions came out of the marketing arm of AT&T about 30 years later. In the media sphere, Wired magazine, launched in January 1993, set an optimistic and futuristic tone that went hand in hand with new developments in computer communications in the corporate sphere. It also became very popular very quickly. Concurrently, almost every large company with a stake in the digital (Sun, Apple, Philips, etc.) put their own similar film visions forward--there's a list of some of their films in a project by theorist Natalie Jeremijenko and designer Chris Woebken. Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future laid out the company's projections.
AT&T's futurist message had a much greater impact on television. The memorable "You Will" commercials (all 7 of them, and full of touchscreen tech) debuted in 1993. Directed by (then-)music video director David Fincher, they had a dark tone but an optimistic vision. Pacific Telephone, too, put forth similar futurist scenarios that same year in the film Neighborhood.
The AT&T Tech Channel made a few theoretical "You Will" ads recently, and another short animated film about coming tech, In the Not Too Distant Future. Some of the innovations shown in that film will be rolled out in parts of the U.S. in 2012, as part of the AT&T Digital Life project.
The excellent Paleo-Future blog dug up Connections in 2007, and it brought the people who worked on it out to the internet. These participants have each communicated a little about the experience, from their perspective in our then-future now:
- Henry Bassman worked in PR at AT&T for around 30 years, and headed this video project.
- Oliver Peters was the online editor of the film, and worked on the visual effects.
Footage Courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ