Jim Henson's Rediscovered 1963 Robot Film

Chris Higgins

"The machine is busy digesting vast oceans of information in a single, all-encompassing, gulp. INTERRUPTION! INTERRUPTION! INFORMATION ALERT!" -Computer H14, in a 1963 film made by Jim Henson for The Bell System (now AT&T). This film is a piece of Henson ephemera -- a three-minute work created by a young Henson for a business seminar in Chicago. From the archive page:

The organizers of the seminar, Inpro, actually set the tone for the film in a three-page memo from one of Inpro's principals, Ted Mills to Henson. Mills outlined the nascent, but growing relationship between man and machine: a relationship not without tension and resentment: "He [the robot] is sure that All Men Basically Want to Play Golf, and not run businesses -- if he can do it better." (Mills also later designed the ride for the Bell System at the 1964 World's Fair.) Henson's execution is not only true to Mills' vision, but he also puts his own unique, irreverent spin on the material.

You can read more about the film, or just have a look below. Fun note: it was authenticated with help from Henson archivist Karen Falk. You might recognize her name from our interview last week! Enjoy:

Note: I've pointed to AT&T Tech Channel videos before. That archive is a goldmine.