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AT&T – “You Will” but They Didn’t

Below is a montage of AT&T (T ) ads circa 1993.

It isn’t clear whether AT&T actually expected to deliver these innovations. They certainly were beat to market by Cable with the cable modem, and I can’t think of a single application innovation out of the company in the last 16 years.

Keep in mind that in 1993:

  1. AOL was virtually unknown
  2. 14.4k modems were state of the art
  3. The Web Browser had just been invented
  4. Most students at universities didn’t own their own computer
  5. Transmitting audio, let alone video to a consumer over the network was impossible

A remarkably accurate prediction of the future. Too bad their execution didn’t match their (or their ad agencies) vision.

And is that Tom Selleck narrating? Whoa.

Full Disclosure – I am long AT&T.


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  1. If you recall, AT&T wasn’t “beat to market by Cable with the cable modem”, they were the ones beating the RBOCs to market with the cable modem after they acquired TCI and MediaOne. Then they bailed and sold their cable properties off to Comcast.

    Posted by DG Lewis | December 7, 2006, 12:03 PM
  2. heh… did you note the ‘Go’ PDA there?

    I had completely forgotten them. That “medical history” UI looks shockingly like MacOS X… a dock and everything!


    Posted by chuck goolsbee | December 7, 2006, 12:22 PM
  3. DG – you are right, I didn’t think of that. But my point was that AT&T didn’t innovate here, and in this case they bought the innovation.

    Posted by Andrew Schmitt | December 7, 2006, 3:19 PM