I was just chatting via IM to Doc who's out in the wilderness of California somewhere camping with his son. He was connecting his Mac to the Internet over Bluetooth via his new SonyEricsson mobile phone over an AT&T Wireless cellular link. The whole thing immediately reminded me of those old AT&T commercials - I even quoted it in the chat: "Ever send a FAX from the beach? YOU WILL."
As with all long lost memories of the past, they're actually out there on the internet somewhere. After some Googling, I learned that the ads were run in and around 1993/1994 (10 years ago) but sadly, I was able to track down only one commercial and it doesn't have the beach quote. It did, however, have the image that triggered my memory: the guy talking on his wrist phone at sunset out in the mountains in front of this huge cliff. "Ever recieve a call, on your wrist? YOU WILL." If you think about the size of mobile phones back in 1994, this was a pretty good stretch. (I've said not too long ago that I think the next big step is to cellular watches... but I digress).
One of the other things that I discovered was this press release from AT&T announcing YouWill.com. In 1994, I thought? My memory is a bit fuzzy about when the Internet actually hit mainstream, so that seemed early to me. Right around the time that Yahoo and Netscape were starting, I was in the transition from journalism into computers. So even though I pretty much started working in technology as soon as I left college, I was pretty clueless about the industry up until that moment. Someone who went to college for computer science would be completely aware of the web and CERN, etc. but I only have dim memories of messing with Gopher in college and reading about the World Wide Web (or WWW) in Wired Magazine. To me, it wasn't until Microsoft announced it was "going hardcore" about the Internet in 1995 before it arrived on my radar. Sad but true.
Anyways, you can glean *a lot* about the state of mind in 1994 by looking at that press release:
NEW YORK -- AT&T's YOU WILL(sm) ad campaign, which has captured the nation's attention in magazines, and on TV and radio for the past two years, has a new home in cyberspace. It's called "youwill.com."
The YOU WILL campaign, created by N W Ayer, New York, is now appearing on the Internet, where users not only can watch and listen to the award-winning ads on their computers, but also look at AT&T products, locate nearby AT&T Phone Centers and enter a sweepstakes to win a trip and prizes.
Featuring the voice of actor Tom Selleck, the YOU WILL campaign takes a whimsical look into the near-future when information technologies now being developed at AT&T will soon enhance the way people work, live and play.
For instance, have you ever renewed your drivers license at an ATM? Have you ever studied with a classmate thousands of miles away? Have you ever installed a phone on your wrist? "You will," say the ads, as they dramatize what technology can do for you. The various capabilities in the YOU WILL campaign are based on actual technologies under development by AT&T.
The new AT&T Internet site was created by Adam Curry, formerly of MTV, now an independent producer and head of OnRamp, Inc., a New York-based agency.
Internet "surfers" can access the youwill.com site directly through the Internet's most user-friendly multimedia resource, the World Wide Web (http://youwill.com/), via the popular Metaverse site (http://metaverse.com/) and through several well-known "What's New" lists, including:
* Stanford University's Yahoo Net Lists: Commercial Contests (http://akebono.stanford.edu/yahoo/Economy/Business/Corporations/Contests)
* Commercial Services on the Net (http://tns-www.lcs.mit.edu/commerce/whatsnew.html)
* Yellow Pages of Internet Commercial Sites (http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/DataSources/bySubject/Yellow/Overview.html)
* Global On-Line Directory (http://www.cityscape.co.uk/cgi-bin/srch2html?type=Any&Field=Business&Location=Any)
Site designed by Adam Curry? Nice. I love how they quote "surfers"... those crazy kids. Checking that original Yahoo! link and akebono is still up and running, which is sort of fun. (And links to Yahoo's history page which is also amusing). I guess it's "only" 10 years later, so I shouldn't be that surprised. But damn, that's a long time, really.
So okay, I want to find a complete list of the You Will stories! I've Googled this evening but haven't found much. Anyone got a resource? More videos? I'd love to see how far we've gotten. The video above starts with "Ever check out of the supermarket, a whole cart at a time?" We're not there yet, but with RFID tags taking over stores like Wal-Mart, we're getting pretty close. Teleconferencing may not be common, but it's definitely done. And though I haven't answered my wrist, I've answered phones while driving along on my Bluetooth headset which I have to say is pretty futuristic. I wonder if the guys who were doing the You Will ads were thinking 5, 10 or 20 years out? Are we ahead of their predictions or behind?
I know at the time I was expecting this stuff to happen the next year. Damn... we should be riding around in flying cars by now. ;-) But seriously, I'd love to see a new set of those ads, no? We're on the cutting edge of some really cool advancements... "Ever hold every word ever written in the palm of your hand? YOU WILL." That sort of thing...