AT&T Tech Channel

About this video

Taking cues from "The Jetsons", Bell Labs posits a vision of the future in this animated film from 1962.

In the "city of tomorrow", telephone services will be even more prominent in family life than they are today. At Bell Labs, "Sybyl", a fictional computer, helps actually predict the future and determine possible telephone services that we will want and need. According to the film: "inventions such as the optical maser and the waveguide transmission system will bring these and many other communications marvels to tomorrow's citizens." (SIBYL was an actual Bell Labs computer.)

Using the basic '50s family unit, we follow each member through their day and see how technology was going to change their lives.

  • Father: His office will be in the home, and he will be able to hold international conferences by picturephone, transmit written messages to distant points by electronics, and speed order information with an advanced dataphone system.
  • Mother: can shop via telephone.
  • Daughter: has a wristwatch radio telephone.
  • Son: can do his homework via tv.
  • Family: Can watch tv from around the world.

Of course, many of these things have come to pass--we have wristwatch radio telephones (cell phones!). Mother can "shop via telephone" on her T-1 line or 4G network. Father can do everything for work via his networked computer. The family can watch tv originating from nearly anywhere, especially with a satellite dish. Only mother isn't just sitting at home shopping, she's doing the same job as father, too.

Animation by Chuck Couch

Footage courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ

Release date: 03/14/2011