AT&T Archives has uploaded footage from 1982 of the dedication of Spaceship Earth at EPCOT Center. AT&T President William Ellinghaus gives a speech, there’s some great promotional footage, footage of “futurecom” that I’ve never seen, and Card Walker (Chair of Walt Disney Productions at the time) is also interviewed. All in all a great bit of history.
In 1982, the Bell System put forth the effort to extend their large World’s Fair presence of the previous decades to a more lasting installation at Walt Disney’s brand-new EPCOT Center, basically a permanent World’s Fair.
Spaceship Earth, inspired by Buckminster Fuller (and Montreal’s Expo ’67) and conceived of with the help of science fiction author Ray Bradbury, was the centerpiece of EPCOT — an enormous, 2-layer geodesic dome that later gained the nickname of the “giant golf ball”. This film shows an overview of the exhibits in place at the opening — AT&T’s usual “history of communications” timeline, some of which still exist at Spaceship Earth, and some of which have been updated or replaced. AT&T was proud of their contribution to the park, and promoted it throughout the company. Along with this film, they made promotional films for company executives, and even had VIP suites in Spaceship Earth where AT&T employees could host visitors.
AT&T sponsored the exhibit from it’s opening to 2004. In 2005, a new corporate sponsor was found, the German company Siemens.
Footage courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ
Can you believe that it’s almost the 30th Anniversary of EPCOT?