This film offers a tour of the newly opened 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, starting with the famous monorail, which still runs from the city center to the site of the fairgrounds. A one-way ticket today costs $2.25, versus the $0.50 charge in 1962.
The Fair was all about the future, and while this film shows the variety of exhibits visitors could enjoy, it ultimately zeroes in on the Bell System Pavilion where it introduces the latest innovative products and services available to customers. The film also highlights some of the conveniences customers could anticipate in the next century, thanks to the research and development efforts of AT&T’s Bell Telephone Laboratories. It’s interesting to note that predicted conveniences—like networked appliances that can be turned on and off from afar—did show up in the 21st Century, though the mode of transmission is somewhat different than the film suggests, which is not surprising, since the Internet wasn’t even a twinkle in a researcher’s eye at the time.
One new Bell System service that actually made its commercial debut at the Fair was the 150-megacycle Bellboy signaling system. Though “Personal Signaling” (essentially paging) services had been available in smaller cities since the late ‘50s, these operated at 35 megacycles, a frequency range with fewer channels that could not accommodate traffic in heavily-populated areas. The Bellboy system made big-city service possible, and was faster and more reliable than the paging systems that came before it.
- About the Seattle World’s Fair
- Seattle Center Monorail Info
- Bell System Technical Journal describing the Bellboy system development and trial
Footage Courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ